Book Review: The Kaedin Secret

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Writing your first book is hard. Putting it out there for others to read, pick apart, and review is even harder. It’s akin to ripping your ribcage open and leaving your soul bare to be spat on by strangers. I know this because Leon and myself are going through this process now. But you know what gives me courage? A. K. Lee. I have watched her go through the writing and publishing process, seen both her nerves and her joy. Her journey gives me courage and her book gives me inspiration.

I won’t hide the fact that A. K. Lee is a friend of mine as such there will bias in what I write. However, I value friendships, especially artist friendships that are open and honest particularly when it comes to feedback about work. After all, helping them better their work is in effect, helping them gain the courage to birth more art into the world and bare their soul. And oh my, does A. K. Bare her soul.

This wouldn’t normally be the kind of book I am drawn to but when A. K. asked me to beta I couldn’t say no and I am glad I didn’t. Three pages in and I was invested, deeply invested. The world she has created is beautiful and rich, but her masterful worldbuilding and writing skills means that I was able to simple soaked up the environment, never trip on it or get distracted by it. The flow and description felt natural. This allowed me to focus wholly on Rilt’s journey.

While this is a very typical coming of age adventure story in essence, there is nothing typical about the execution. I won’t lie, I was so moved at times by the poetry of her words and the rawness of emotion that I got envious. There were points where I had to put the book down and just ‘be’, both to honour the stunning and provocative writings, but also to deal with the fact I may just never be as good as her. But A. K. is an amazing hero/role model to have. Not only does she have the sweetest soul, but this sweetest soul can delve into the darkest of places with compassion, wisdom, and true bravery. She will make you ache.

Although this could almost be classed a Y.A. story because the POV is from that of a young adult, A. K. doesn’t shy away from the shadows, and perhaps this is what makes the love story that much sweeter and the adventures that much more gripping. There is no place to hide from this story, A. K. has a knack for gently and sweetly crushing your heart when you least expect it. But don’t worry, she summons joy and bliss just as easily and frequently.

While there are some areas of this story that could be improved upon (on the odd occasion I felt the twists/reveals could have been handled with greater subtly) all of these minor faults fade to nothing when I consider the character development.

I would have to say character development and depth are definitely the strong points of this novel. Her characters grow in surprising and endearing ways – and what is a story without a protagonist to grow and adventure with?

Another thing that stood out to me about this book was observation. Yes, the story was elegant and the characters gripping, but A. K. clearly has a skill for observing the world and all its nuances. She has taken this skill and woven it into her novel. There were beautiful moments of description and detail that in and of themselves spoke of melancholy, nostalgia, and grace. They weren’t so overdone as to pull me out of the story, but I definitely noticed and appreciated them. I think perhaps this attention to detail was what made everything feel so ‘real’. By the end of the book I felt as familiar with the world she had created as I do with Earth, and if that isn’t testament to a gifted writer, I don’t know what is.

In short: this is a moving tale penned by a gifted hand. A very good book.

So, even though this is not usually the kind of book I would go for, I will definitely be gobbling up the rest of the series. A. K. is a serious and glorious emerging talent. I won’t be at all surprised to see her go far with her work. Remember us little people when stardom hits!

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