“Ice cream. That’s what Eden could be doing right now…eating ice cream on Loma Island with his friends, the Melee Club. But no, he had to get saddled with the world’s most infamous weapon, forcing him into a life of secrecy and suspicion. To make things worse, his best friend (or maybe more?) Sitara has gone away to live the monastic life of a Haelle, leaving him cold. Now, roaming the world in search of his fate, Eden is met with countless dangers and questions about his own identity. All for the sake of a tiny piece of string.
Stupid accidental destiny. ” (From the back of Sunthread)
Picture if Hironobu Sakaguchi re-imagined Peter Pan (the book, mind you) and incorporated it into his Final Fantasy series. Well, on one hand you would have the game Kingdom Hearts. On the other hand, you would have Sunthread.
Set in a Mediterranean island full of orange groves and anthropomorphic animal kids, enter Eden–an easy-going orphan brat who spends his free time training the village kids in swordplay. Where Eden is pigheaded, brash, and loud-mouthed, his best friend Sitara is the opposite: soft-spoken, mysterious, and a little odd. Unlucky for Eden, who’s just now realized his enormous crush on her, Sitara has chosen to dedicate herself to the monastic life of a Haelle–healers who spend their lives protecting civilization from the apocalyptic force known as Eveila. Not only is Eden head-over-heels for the “prettiest girl on Loma Island”, but his attachment to her goes deeper; his first memory was of Sitara, and if she leaves, he may never know exactly where he came from.
And then, there’s the Sunthread itself–said to be the most controversial weapon ever made, because it was created by a Haelle heretic who developed a god complex and decided to collaborate with the Eveilas. When it inexplicably chose Eden to be its master, his life as a carefree island brat promptly went down the drain. And now, against his very nature, Eden is forced into a life of hiding, going underground to discover why and how the Sunthread chose him.
Indie fantasy books are seldom the top-notch pieces of work that commercially sold fantasy books are. And honestly, not many great fantasy books have been published lately. The steady decline of fantasy coupled with the ongoing demand for sci-fi and action have meant that fantasy is not doing so hot right now. I’ve seen WAY too many dragons, swords, and princesses slapped on fantasy covers and sold in the backs of bookstores like a shamed requisite. I’ve written an article about how to write decent fantasy earlier, and I noted that there are millions upon millions of variations to the genre, but the whole “hero discovering his destiny” thing with swords and magic has been WAY overplayed. We definitely need a book that takes the whole “swords and destinies” thing to a newer, fresher level. And here are the reasons I think Sunthread deserves a little praise.
One! The world’s most powerful, coveted, controversial weapon is…a piece of string. Yes, the Sunthread is a piece of string. Not a legendary sword pulled from a lake, not a hammer of gods, not an elvish bow and arrow. Kind of a cool twist there.
Two! The writing is beautiful. Unlike a whole battalion of self-published indie books, Sunthread is actually…pretty. Too many fantasy writers focus on the content of the story instead of the actual writing, but this book skillfully juggles both. You get the quirky factor with passages describing the sunshine as having “strawberry jelly-like warmth” and stars like “the souls of the snuffed-out candles” beneath them. Overall, it’s written in the carefree perspective of a 15-year-old island kid, and it shows. Instead of being written like any other “dragons and princesses” kind of fantasy, it reads more like a slice-of-life. Which is very refreshing.
Three! The quirky factor is just right. Like I said before, the language can be refreshingly oddball. So can the characters: one of them is a cloaked little girl named Hete, named after the Dutch potato-apple-bacon dish “hete bliksem” (hot lightning). Boly is a “Magitt”, an anthropomorphic mushroom person with no mouth, no nose, and no distinguishable features except for two round eyes. The opening sentence is eye-catching enough.
Four! The lady characters are kickass. It’s heavily hinted that if Sitara hadn’t become a Haelle, she would have gone to join the army in Iresh. She was always a way better fighter than Eden, and instead of getting all butthurt about it, he actually finds it really attractive. You won’t see any weak “damsel in distress” ladies in this book…just kickass girls and kickass guys being kickass together. I would say sexy but they’re all underage, so that would be weird.
Five! Twists, anyone? The plot is gripping. Maybe a little slow and slice-of-life-ish at first, but once it picks up, it starts getting really interesting. And with the whole Final Fantasy vibe this book gives off, I wouldn’t be at all surprised if characters die off, the plot takes a turn for the dark, and feels are had by all.
So if you’re a fan of beautifully thought-provoking writing, quirkiness, kickass women, a Final Fantasy-eque atmosphere, a gripping plot, and a nice big dose of feels, try reading Sunthread. It’s the first book in a series of 3, and only 244 pages long. I really recommend it, and I can’t wait for the second book to come out!
Here’s where you can buy it. I suggest you do so.