Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Coral & Bone

I had the opportunity to read Coral & Bone for an upcoming Blog Tour through Xpresso Blog Tours. You can check that review out on We Do Write in September.  Of course, I'm not big on waiting, so, I figured I'd dive on in now.

Can I just say, holy gorgeous cover, Batman?
Coral & Bone by Tiffany Daune was a pretty good book. I enjoyed the story and found myself laying awake later than I'd intended to finish just one more chapter, and then thinking about the characters long after I'd set it down.  It was not a one sitting book for me, partially because of it's length and the amount of world building, and partially because every few chapters I felt the need to pull on my swimming suit and find a pool.  My family jokes that I'm a bit of a mermaid myself, of course, in Coral & Bone, that's not a good thing.

In Coral & Bone, Halen, a nearly 15 year old girl, finds herself having returned to the dreary small beach town where her family lived when her father drowned in open water, which she recalls in images of silvery tails. Of course, Halen also finds fire tingling beneath her touch and goes to school with earplugs in to block the overwhelming sensory input of the world around her. Of course, the run-in with mermaids some six years earlier was nothing compared to the drama ignited when she reencounters them after a mysterious young man shows up on her front stoop.

In the first chapter, Halen passes out during a math test because she took out her ear plugs, and this moment sets the stage for the balancing act between her strengths and weaknesses throughout Coral & Bone. Again and again, her abilities push her over the edge, and again and again, she finds herself diminished by them. In some ways I thought the wording was ableist. Halen frequently questions her sanity toward the beginning, and yes, I imagine anyone being pulled from the mundane world into a realm with different rules and different beings might question their sanity, or at least struggle with disbelief. However, the frequency of "crazy" and "insane" statements detracted from the meaning of the words, because they felt like they were being used too liberally.  I know it's a small point, but it's one that wears on me, as a reader.

Similarly, I really dislike the magic k. I know, it's a personal preference thing, but I wish my e-reader had a way to go through and replace all the "magick" with "magic," because it throws me out of any text that isn't a historical text discussing the trend in neo-mystycism and pagan movements toward adding a k in order to differentiate between prestidigitation and illusion and their own brand of magic. It's like fingernails on the chalkboard of my soul.

Speaking of which, so is a cast of Earth dwellers living in contemporary times comprised entirely with bizarre names. Enter Halen, Daspar, Tage... you get the idea. However, it worked in this case. I liked them and their unique names fit the characters and their backstories in ways that Helen, David, and Teague wouldn't have. So props on that.

I think what I liked the most about Coral & Bone was that it surprised me, even the predictable parts surprised me. Sure, we all see them coming, but they unfold in subtly different ways, and it feels good to read the well foreshadowed event with the tiny little twist. I like that Halen was set up to be a bit of a swooning Bella, easily overwhelmed, easily captured, easily led along, despite obvious personal power, but then BAM- she makes choices without equivocation and sets her own destiny. I like that.

I also really enjoyed the world building Tiffany Daune put in. There's a great amount of detail, her magic system has rules and she follows them, and there is room to expand on it. Coral & Bone also exists outside the realm of quest or romance in that there is a political/social justice/ equality arc as well. While yes, there is the "destroy the bad guy, save the realms" element to the story, it really only serves to illuminate the greater problem, that Elosians truly believe that genocide is alright as long as it makes them feel safer. The social justice issues dominate the landscape of the story, and make for an interesting tale.

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