Threats of Sky and Sea

March 15, 2017
Threats of Sky and Sea Book Cover Threats of Sky and Sea
Threats of Sky and Sea, #1
Jennifer Ellision
Fantasy
Smashwords
May 16th, 2014
eBook
360
NetGalley

Sixteen year-old Breena Perdit has spent her life as a barmaid, innocent to her father’s past and happily free from the Elemental gifts that would condemn her to a life in the Egrian King’s army. Until the day that three Elemental soldiers recognize her father as a traitor to the throne and Bree’s father is thrown in jail—along with the secrets from his last mission as the King’s assassin. Secrets that could help the King win a war. Secrets he refuses to share.

Desperate to escape before the King’s capricious whims prove her and her father’s downfall, Bree bargains with him: information for their lives. It’s a good trade. And she has faith she’ll get them both out of the King’s grasp with time.

But that was before the discovery that she’s the weapon the King’s been waiting for in his war.

Now, time is running out. To save her father’s life and understand her own, Bree must unravel the knot of her father’s past before the King takes his life– and uses her to bring a nation to its knees.

(via Goodreads)

 

An engaging, if predictable, YA fantasy novel, Threats of Sky and Sea brings the importance of family and friendship to the fore in this debut novel for Jennifer Ellision. Most importantly, this novel is written in first-person subjective. When was the last time you read a YA fantasy novel in first person subjective? Possibly never.

Breena Perdit lives in the far North of Egria, working as a barmaid in her father’s tavern. She loves this life. Father and daughter barely make ends meet, but Bree has dreams of turning their tavern around. With her father as her best friend, Bree cannot imagine a better life.

Of course, this means everything falls apart in the first ten pages.

Wishes, I am finding, are fickle things when they turn on you.

Three Elementals, or Adepts as the Royal military calls them, arrive one day and call Bree’s father out as a traitor to the throne. Her father imprisoned and suddenly the heiress to a duchy, Bree finds herself quickly wrapped up in political intrigue, danger, magic, and a bit of romance. Obviously, the King is mad with power, and it’s up to Bree and her friends to spring her father and escape the King. Absolute power corrupts absolutely, and that trope seems to drive the motivations of our antagonists. So begins a bit predictable, but still enjoyable, book.

First, let’s talk about the first person subjective. I haven’t read a book in first person subjective (I/We are the singular and plural pronouns used) fiction novel in a long time. This is typically used for autobiographical writing. In the case of Threats of Sky and Sea, I found it refreshing. The first few chapters were a bit weak, though. It felt like Ellision was only getting used to writing in this style and never went back to correct it. But, by the fourth chapter or so the style had improved significantly.

If they tell me one more time that I’m useing the wrong fork for a part of a meal, I swear I’ll show them exactly how multifunctional the utensil can be.

This perspective really allows the reader to get to know Bree intimately. She is a strong, feisty, intelligent, temperamental character. And I loved her almost at once. Bree is obviously overwhelmed with the changes in her life at first, but she chooses to be patient instead of whiny. She uses what knowledge she has to try and gain the upper hand. Yet, she isn’t perfect. She has many flaws; most of which emanate from her deep personal respect and love for her family.

This brings us to Bree’s father. I adore the relationship that Bree and her father have. Up until this point, she has trusted him completely. But, once the Adepts arrive and label her father as a traitor, Bree is suddenly extremely conflicted. She isn’t certain if she can trust her father, but she loves him and can’t imagine being without him. Bree is constantly thinking of him; pondering how she wishes things were different or how she could save him. This father/daughter dynamic is refreshing and touching for YA– particularly fantasy.

“I have been thinking,” he says. Kingdoms have been known to fall in the wake of his thoughts.

However, I struggled quite a bit with some other things. Character development was choppy. The magic system is a bit overused and with few explained rules (but, our characters don’t have anyone to teach them yet… so, maybe that’s an out? I have hope for future books). Overall, I feel like Threats of Sky and Sea just lacked depth. I know that this is all from Bree’s perspective and she is supposed to be confused and on the outs of all the plotting. But, I felt like that was a bit of a cop out. In the end, I would have liked to see more world-building, character development, and rules for magic wielding.

I also felt that there was a quite a lot in this book which was predictable, as mentioned above. I found myself rolling my eyes at Bree a few times, not because she was being silly for the character she was in that moment, but because if only she knew where this story was going she wouldn’t have done whatever-it-is. I found her frustrating at times because the direction of the story was so obvious to me. Yet the characters can’t seem to see the same things I can. That is no flaw of Bree’s character or the others, but of Ellision’s writing.

If they want they want to break me, they will have a hard time of it. I am unbreakable.

As this is her debut novel, I certainly will not give up now. YA tropes are a trap many authors get stuck in. I did become quite intrigued, I laughed often at Bree’s one-liners, and I look forward to seeing where this story goes in the future.


What do you think?

  • How do you decide whether or not to keep reading a debut author’s books? What sort of things are deal breakers for you?
  • What was the last book you read which was completely predictable? Did you keep reading?
  • Have you read any YA books in first-person subjective? If so, what are they?

25 Comments

  • Laila@BigReadingLife March 15, 2017 at 11:02 am

    Hmmm, deal breakers… tough question. I don’t know how to define this exactly, but bad writing. It’s like that infamous definition of porn someone once had: I know it when I see it. 🙂 I need strong writing, believable characters, and no child abuse. Or animal abuse. Those are my deal breakers.

    • Jackie B March 15, 2017 at 2:31 pm

      Ugh, child abuse and animal abuse– that’s a huge deal breaker for me, too. Graphic violent is also a deal breaker. But, as you might be able to guess from the cover, there isn’t any of that in this book.

      Bad writing is definitely hard to pin down. It’s often one of those that I struggle to identify clearly until I’ve read bad writing, so I completely agree. Any particular books with poor writing you would encourage me to avoid?

      • Laila@BigReadingLife March 16, 2017 at 12:50 pm

        Well, one that comes to mind was the first Jack Reacher book, Killing Floor, by Lee Child. He wrote like this. Very short sentences. Few words. It went on and on. Like this. For days and weeks. No end in sight. I couldn’t take it anymore! The character wasn’t that interesting to me, and with that writing quirky I couldn’t take another one. I am in the minority on this one, though, because that series is very popular.

        • Jackie B March 16, 2017 at 3:09 pm

          Hahaha! I love your example! That’s priceless. I completely understand how that can be a put off. :-\ I appreciate you being in the minority, actually. There are a lot of things I consider with other books which put me in the minority too. I respect it when you’re there. 😉

  • Birdie March 15, 2017 at 2:01 pm

    Hmmm, I don’t know if this is unfair but I’m so turned off by covers with girls in prom dresses. I think it’s leftover from the time when all YA books were marketed that way.

    • Jackie B March 15, 2017 at 2:36 pm

      Hahaha! You are my hero for speaking that aloud. That is totally fair. I have found very few books which have girls in formal dresses on the cover which have spoken to me. I feel judgmental when it comes to this, but c’est la vie. I enjoyed reading this, but this wasn’t the most gripping novel. I should learn to avoid these covers too!

  • Marie March 15, 2017 at 2:32 pm

    Lovely review! I’m sorry to hear you wished there was more to this, in terms of world–building and character development. I guess deal breakers for me in debut novels would have to be… well, like any other book, really, the writing style I can’t enjoy and the characters I can’t feel any kind of connection towards 🙂

    • Jackie B March 16, 2017 at 2:19 pm

      Thanks, Marie! You’re right about writing style– that’s hard to judge by the cover, however. 😉 I have certainly picked up some debut books I DNF’d due to writing style. As you pointed out in your Why Do Characters Matter So Much? post, there are some crucial things for connecting to characters. I feel like these characters did a decent job, and I have hope for the future– but I don’t know if I’ll keep reading just because of the predictability. C’est la vie!

  • Books, Vertigo and Tea March 15, 2017 at 2:51 pm

    Tropes are a huge issue for me. There are some I do not mind, but lately I just keep seeing reoccurring themes so I am setting YA to the side for the most part. I will of course have favorite authors or series I fall back to 😉

    • Jackie B March 16, 2017 at 2:30 pm

      Of course you will! I’ll never give up Harry Potter, for example. 😉

      I completely understand about tropes. This is one of the reasons I don’t read new releases often. I feel like the hype covers up some tropes I wouldn’t like, so I wait until the hype dies out. That helps a ton. I just love how easy it can be to read YA. It’s a breeze compared to many adult books.

      What authors/series do you keep close to your heart?

      • Books, Vertigo and Tea March 17, 2017 at 3:22 pm

        Marissa Meyer is a favorite for me of late. I love her writing. It just flows. I will definitely follow the Ren series by Brittany Quagan and pick up more Kendare Blake to try. Having a hard time thinking of them. But I am a sucker for retellings which are often YA, so there is always that 😛

        • Jackie B March 20, 2017 at 5:16 pm

          There is definitely something about Meyer’s writing which is addictive. I absolutely devour her books! I haven’t read anything by Quagan and Blake, but I’ll have to check out both of their works. Retellings have been so in lately; I also have a soft spot in my heart for them. 🙂

  • theorangutanlibrarian March 16, 2017 at 10:52 pm

    Can’t think of a single book I’ve read in first person subjective! Not sure how I’d feel about that to be honest (I can be really choosy about that sort of thing) Does sound enjoyable though! Great review!

    • Jackie B March 20, 2017 at 5:17 pm

      I don’t blame you for your choosiness! I thought I would really struggle, but it worked for me in the end. It was definitely a different experience, that’s for sure.

  • Deepika @BookHearts Forever March 18, 2017 at 1:30 am

    I read this book a while ago too and there were many issues I had this one.I am still on the fence about picking up the second book.Great review 🙂

    • Jackie B March 20, 2017 at 5:27 pm

      I can definitely see why you would hesitate to pick up the second book. I am in the same camp! It sounds like we share some reading sentiments. Thanks, Deepika.

  • Grab the Lapels March 21, 2017 at 3:04 pm

    I was so confused when you wrote that the book was in first person subjective and you hadn’t read that in forever. I kept asking myself, “What is this mysterious point of view, and why don’t I know it?!” I googled and realized that’s the official name for first-person POV. I’d simply never heard it called subjective! Actually, in the small-press world EVERYBODY seems to write in first-person. One author did an interview with several small press owners and asked how many of the books were written in first, and it’s almost all of them. Then, the author wrote an article criticizing writers for being self-absorbed called “Too Much of Moi?”

    • Jackie B March 22, 2017 at 10:51 am

      Sorry to confuse you, but I’m glad to help clear some cobwebs. Yup– this is as opposed to first-person peripheral, where the story is told in first person but that person is not the main character. Such as Watson from Sherlock Holmes. Holmes is the main character, for sure, but Watson is our narrator.

      Or, you could compare subjective as the personal point of view to objective or possessive. I was always taught to specify when addressing POV.

      I haven’t read *any* small-press books yet. I really need to get into it, but I have no idea how to even jump into it. I don’t buy many books, I mostly use the library, because I only like to own books if I know I’ll re-read them. But our library doesn’t carry any small press books. 🙁 I’m working with them to change that, but it’s slow going.

      I’m intrigued that most small press books are written in first person! I feel like that’s so rare in my fiction. I would love to read more of that!

      • Grab the Lapels March 22, 2017 at 10:57 am

        Ah, that makes sense! Thanks, Jackie! You didn’t confuse me due to anything done poorly on your part; I’m simply still learning 🙂 Yes, many small press books never make it to a library. You can check out “big” small press names, like Brian Evenson or Stephen Graham Jones, and see if they make it to the library. Sometimes they do. Also, you can request books to be purchased by your library.

  • Jasmine March 28, 2017 at 9:51 am

    Love your honest review Jackie! It’s great that you are pointing out your likes and dislikes. I don’t like books that are predictable either. I do like a character that doesn’t whine. I love it when characters can stay calm under pressure. I’m glad you enjoy the family dynamic. I can’t think at the moment of any books I have read that have good father/daughter relationship. At least in this case, the tropes of bad parenting is not the present hehe..

    • Jackie B March 29, 2017 at 12:42 pm

      Right?! Bad parenting is so common in YA. It’s nice to see a strong relationship between these two, particularly since it is so complicated. I love seeing the parents acknowledged as complex characters all unto themselves. Yes, parents are people, too!

    • Jackie B March 30, 2017 at 10:28 pm

      And I love the new photo!! <3

      • Jasmine March 31, 2017 at 9:12 am

        Thanks Jackie 🙂 I took a picture of this flower during my afternoon walks.. hehe.. I’m so into flowers as spring comes 🙂 Do you get a chance to go out much? I know we readers often stuck at home and our eyes glue to a book, but since you do more audio, you could be anywhere right? 🙂

        • Jackie B April 3, 2017 at 1:44 pm

          I completely agree- I love flowers! The weather is starting to warm up here in Wisconsin, so I’ll be outside more soon. I like to go for runs and listen to audiobooks, often. I typically run for about 30 minutes, so I get a good chunk of reading/listening in then. I also try to read physical books outside whenever I can. I find that I don’t enjoy reading on an eReader outside. I don’t know why, though… I just don’t… that’s cool, right?

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