This review contains a spoiler! Readers beware.
Title: The Soulkeepers
Author: G. P. Ching
An interesting premise filled with small town Americana (not in a positive way) and a hodgepodge of mythology (or theology depending on your view). That being said, Ching managed to keep me reading. Her characters were generally intriguing if not likable, and as a fellow author, I admired how she shaped and organized her series with particular platforms in mind (environmentalism, multiculturalism / globalism, etc.)
I somewhat feel a kinship with Ching. We both have fantasy series with biracial male leads. However, Ching’s much more overt about confronting the casual racism and internal outrage. Both struggle with the double-edged sword of passing and being forced to narrow one’s identity because people aren’t as willing to acknowledge the multiplicity of self-identities; however, Ching’s Jacob is far more alone than my main character, Jon Blythe. Jon has friends, his mother, and a growing community of magic users. Jacob doesn’t have the first due to his losing of the second. Why am I comparing these two? Because I might be a little bias in seeing Ching and myself as somewhat similar perspectives.
That being said – a lot of how Ching handled her plot and Jacob himself were themes I felt needed to be handled more delicately. There’s a binary good/evil feel that I absolutely dislike. As I repeatedly say, I like gray morality. I think characters are more interesting when they confront a range of perspectives rather than forming solid realities – especially as any plot twist flips feel so out of place. The villain might remind everyone of Marvel’s Taneleer Tivan (The Collector).
Outside of that – having read this as protests are going on about “thoughts and prayers,” the deus ex machina used ruffled my feathers. There’s some over explaining (i.e. telling vs. showing debate), and a clean end point is skipped for a chapter explaining a side character’s back story. I might have suggested putting it in book 2 and cutting to a cleaner resolution. Otherwise, while it brushed along my tastes and against them in turns, it was a decent read.
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