Hello my fellow booklovers!
Ever since it was featured as #reviewoftheday on TheWriteReads‘ Twitter account, I knew I wanted to read this book. The very first sentence of the blurb says “Have you ever seen something you can’t explain?”, and while I can’t claim that I have (lol, that sounds really arrogant, but I don’t mean it like that. There’s plenty of things I don’t understand, but nothing I’ve seen so far has been out of this world, I think), I have loved the sound of it right away. It makes it sound as if there’s more to this world than we can see in the haste of our busy everyday lives, and more than we understand, and I quite like that thought. If “more” exists, then maybe magic exists, and then every day, every minute, something wonderful might happen… Or that’s what I think anyway. But enough of my philosophical musings, and back to Sapphire Smyth. The rest of the blurb reads as follows:
“Have you ever seen something you can’t explain? Did it vanish as fast as it appeared? Perhaps that thing you saw was lurking in the shadows, and you caught a glimpse of it before it went back into hiding. There’s a good chance, of course, that the thing you saw simply emerged from your imagination. Or maybe, just maybe, it didn’t… Sapphire Smyth is no stranger to rejection. When she was only a baby, her father abandoned her after her mother died. Since then, Sapphire has never felt like she belonged anywhere, or with anyone. To make things worse, her foster carers have now turned their back on her – on her eighteenth birthday. After living with them throughout her childhood, Sapphire has to find a new home. Is it any wonder she finds it hard to trust people? Abandoned by the people she called family, Sapphire is alone and searching for some meaning in her life. Except that meaning has already come looking for her. When she discovers mysterious creatures lurking in the shadows, Sapphire soon realises that her fate is unlike anything she had ever imagined.”
I think this is the first time I ever fell in love with a book before it even started. In the foreword, author R.J. Furness writes:
“The staircase in our house leads out of our living room, and at the bottom of those stairs lies a mystery. Over the years, while sitting on our sofa, people have caught a glimpse of something that they can’t explain. Whatever it is, it tends to lurk at the base of our stairs. At a glance, this phenomenon looks like a shadow that has come alive, and then decided to dash into hiding. Until recently I hadn’t seen it for myself, but now that I have, I can honestly tell you I have no clue what it is. So, all of this made me curious. What if shadows could come to life?”
If this is not the most interesting beginning to a fantasy you have ever read, I don’t know what is. Even as just the foreword it creates an entrance to a magical world – one that exists directly in ours.
Sapphire Smyth, the main character of this story, is a heroine that you can’t help but like. Her foster parents want her to leave her home – no less on her 18th birthday! The only person she can still trust is her best (and only) friend Ben, whom she’s known forever. But then some unusual events take place, and Sapphire wonders, can she really trust him?
It is important to note that this is only part one of six, as Sapphire Smyth & The Shadow Five is a serialised story. While I love the premise of this book, there’s also some tiny little issues I had while reading this first story (SPOILERS ahead).
When Sapphire leaves her home and meets her friend Ben in a park, she tells him her foster parents basically threw her out of her own home, and yet he is not really as understanding as I would have expected. She then runs away from him (because he tries to make her go back home again), and he doesn’t even follow her, even though he knows where she is running off to. Strange, for a best friend. In her hiding place some unusual things happen to Sapphire, and then she’s being attacked by a man – she manages to fight him off though. Later on the attacker re-emerges with some others, and this is what I had some problems with. Not only did it feel weird for the storyline, the “fight” scenes drag very long for such a short story. Furthermore, they feel like something Sapphire is used to. She doesn’t come across as very helpless or scared, even though she has four (!!!) opponents! And then she manages to escape them just like that, and none of them can keep up with her. I don’t want to say this is a bad book because it might be all explained better in the next installments, but for now I have to say not everything added up for me. The same problem I had with the big “revelation” – if you can call it that – with Sapphire and Ben afterwards. Well, we don’t really find out all about the big secret in this one yet, but we do get some answers.
However, and to end on a positive note, I have to say that the idea behind this story is brilliant. Very imaginative and unique, and this first part made me curious enough that I want to read the next books in the series, and that’s always a good thing!
For all the uniqueness of the story, the quite new fantasy element and a strong heroine, Sapphire Smyth & The Shadow Five deserves 4 stars from me! Looking forward to reading the next parts of this story!
Do you want to know more about the author? Here is his bio:
R. J. Furness has been passionate about great stories since he was able to read. At an early age, he would frequently create new characters, worlds and creatures, then write crazy tales all about them. However, until now, he has always kept those ideas completely secret. After having a lifelong interest in animals, music and anything spawned from pure imagination, R.J.’s first love are now his wife and children. Over time, he has also developed an overwhelming desire for mugs of tea and good biscuits to dunk. He lives in Southport, England, with his family, a dog and several fish, chickens and quails.