Sunday, May 20, 2018

Looking for Dei by David A. Willson - Book Review

"The townsfolk held their breath as if deep underwater, lungs bursting with discomfort until they could reach the surface and exhale the anxiety of the moment."

Looking for Dei by David A. Willson is a quick-paced, elemental adventure with a cast of beautiful heroes.

The novel opens with a monk kidnapping a scarred child, whom we later meet as 16-year-old Nara. The monk, Bilo, has raised her as his own but for years has kept her powers hidden for fear that those in power would find her and seek to use her for their own needs. This has made Nara even more curious about her abilities, some of which she understands and some of which she doesn't.

When the novel opens, we learn that there is a ceremony to test children to see if they have gifts, such speed, strength, an ability to draw the life-force out of people and animals, and so on. However, we also learn that the town where Nara and Bilo, Dimmitt, has not seen any Gifted people in years, which has impoverished the town. Nara learns the reason for this and attempts to make things right. Only it puts her, Bilo, and her friend Mykel on the run for the rest of the book.

As Looking for Dei progresses, we see another side of the story; Nara's twin, Kayna. As the chapters shift between the sisters, the reader begins to compare and contrast the two identical and features but far from identical in traits.

"[Bilo searched] for the power in the runes of scripture. The designs had power, and Nara was part of all that, but he didn't know exactly how, and he was determined to find out. But there was nobody he could ask, and his only guide was an old book. A book about magic. A book he kept very close."

From the beginning, the novel has an even-but-fast pace, with great visual and lots of action.

I like how Willson brings in flashbacks for various characters, giving even evil ones the chance to shine and the reader the opportunity to discover why they act the way they do. At one point, the reader can sympathise with Minister of War Nikolas Vorick because of his background, even though his greed brings about the destruction of many.

Worlds collide when Nara and her twin are reunited, igniting stark contrasts, especially has Nara has been poor most of her life, while Kayna had been living with the most powerful minister in the realm.

"You could be dangerous if you wanted."

One of the things I loved about Looking for Dei was the cover as it displayed an actual event in the novel and as it helped me imagine the main character Nara.

Character development, although slow, is evident for Nara, Bilo, and Mykel. Each of the characters, even some of the supporting ones, develops in some way. I truly enjoyed the change I saw in each of them. Nara is often skeptical about herself and abilities and for good reason, she has not been trained; sometimes, she too naïve or kind, but then the goodness of her heart sets her apart from her twin and from all the characters in Looking for Dei.

In terms of lines or imagery, there were a lot of powerful lines and scenes throughout the book. There were some parts I wish I could quote whole, but couldn't to avoid spoilers.

"Nara knew no way to attack the men; she could only build caves, talk to animals, or make her hands glow with light. None of that would stop men with swords, would it?"

When I was at around 90% of the novel, I could not grasp how the author will end his novel because I felt there was still a lot to. But the ending satisfied me. And I'm thankful for that.

I'm not sure if Looking for Dei is a good title for the novel though.

Although Looking for Dei is in a fantastical world and setting, I couldn't help but notice some Christian allusions in the novel. It could just be me, but I felt them more than once. It didn't affect my view of the book though.

"The twins aren't the twin peaks; they are actual human twins!"

Overall, Looking for Dei by David A. Willson is an exciting and action-and-magic-packed must read full of adventure and characters to root for.

Overall rating: 4.5-5 stars 

Note: I received a free copy of Looking for Dei from its author David A. Willson in exchange for an honest review, which should have come much earlier than May, but personal reasons have prevented me from finishing the book earlier. 

Connect with the author David A. Willson via Goodreads, Facebook, Twitter, and his Website.

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