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Nikki's Journal
By Nikole Hahn, Chino Valley, AZ
Book reviews, journaling, interviews and guest posts from authors, special columns like the latest, "Touring Arizona Coffee Houses: Havens for Writers," etc.
Friday, April 12, 2013

Book Review: Emaline's Gift

Nikole Hahn

Emaline's Gift by Brad Francis has good writing and an interesting plot. If not for the issues and believability in the story, I would have enjoyed reading it more.

Emaline has a gift similar to the Magi. Her power is discovered during a struggle between good and evil in the opening scenes of the novel. This interests both parties and thus begins a pursuit to persuade Emaline to join one or the other. The Magi are interested in her Salvation and power. The Obeah are interested in her power. A love interest between one Magi and Emaline is hinted. However, because of publishing issues after 60%, the story has paragraphs that don't belong and half sentences. I was unable to finish it. The problem with Emaline's Gift is also in the believability, delivery of the story, the preachiness, and the information dumping that breaks up the tension. In truth, if the publishing issues hadn't been present, I would have struggled to finish it.

The opening scene is the point of view of a cat. The reader will wonder why the cat gets the honor of his own point of view, and because this is a fantasy novel, is the cat really a cat? But then, the cat is never mentioned again. This whole chapter should have been re-written from the point of view of someone involved in the plot of the story, not a cat. That lost me. When Emaline is saved from capture by the Magi, the long conversation within the inside of the old church breaks up the tension that was flowing nicely until then.

The reader is forced to read the long dialogues explaining the why, where, and how of the Magi and Obeah. This information should have been slowly released throughout to preserve the tension or write a prologue. Take for example, Angel Eyes by Shannon Dittemore. Shannon Dittemore began her story with a prologue that explained how the angel hierarchy works without info dumping. She opens with a biblical story that she has taken artistic license with in order to make her angels believable.

The preachiness throughout Emalines' Gift felt awkward as if the message wasn't for Emaline, but the reader. While the author says, "Emaline's Gift is a Christian urban fantasy novel for young adults. It's full of action, adventure, supernatural battles and the timeless truth of Scripture. Fans of the Harry Potter and Percy Jackson series may find a lot to like here, but all the excitement is strengthened by an exploration of God's will and the importance of building a strong relationship with Him (Goodreads)," preachiness should never overwhelm the plot. He claims the novel is for young adults. It reads much younger.

Chapter 10 was all quotes or dialogue with no beats or tags; no description. I wasn't sure why that was placed there and it broke up the story. Also, the author tends to frequently switch from one point of view to an omniscient point of view in the same chapter as if now the narrator is speaking. In one place, it says, "At this point it might be natural for the reader to wonder whether Emaline could have made good her escape..." This followed Emaline's attempt at escape. The reader is drawn into Emaline's mind, then the above quoted sentence startles me. We've just switched from Emalines' head to a narrator.

It's hard to believe the plot when the Obeah are likened to evil and yet the Magi explain how the three who pursue Emaline can still be saved. If the Magi have powers likened to angels and the Obeah have powers likened to demons, then how can the three Obeah be saved? Also, in an attempt to rescue Emaline and Anthony the flow of this magical peoples are broken when the powerful Obeah require security guards around the perimeter of their mansion. The attempt to save Emaline felt long, too.

In spite of the cat's point of view in the beginning, I thought the writing was good, keeping me involved in the story until the message took precedence over the story. The writing went from show to lots of tell. Because there seems to be issues with the publishing after 60%, I could not finish it. Other reviewers didn't mention this problem. I gave the story two stars.

*Book given by author to review.

Brad left this comment on Amazon. Please read. We discussed at length the issue with my file.

I just wanted to let everyone know, however, that this reviewer received a mobi file directly from me, not a download from Amazon, and I think that her copy was corrupted somewhere in the process (the problem is not present on my end, nor with others who received the exact same file). The commercially available Kindle book does not have the issue described and I would fix it as soon as possible if I became aware of any issues. I appreciate all my readers and strive to give you as good an experience as possible!

Now, as for whether the cat reappears in the story, one would have to read to the end to find that out. . . =)

Comment on the cat: Being that the cat wasn't in up to 60%, I got stuck on the cat; fixated even. I was looking for the cat, wondering on it's importance, but when it didn't reappear, became disappointed. It served as distraction for me. I stand by what I wrote, however. I think I would have put the cat here and there to show the cat had a purpose.

Related Links:
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