Issaura's Claws by Katharine E. Wibell
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Oh wow, oh wow, oh wow. This read – just wow. Honestly, it was so much more than I’d anticipated. I was so very close to giving this one a five star rating.
If the truth is to be known, I went into this one not expecting much. The synopsis was interesting, yet I wasn’t one hundred percent sure what I would be receiving. A fantasy novel – yes. Some kind of shifter creatures – yes. A new mythology to wrap my head around – yes. Prejudice against women that would be overcome – yes to the former, hopefully the latter. Information beyond that – not really. Thus, it was more curiosity than anything else that had me reading this one.
As soon as I started reading, though, I was pulled in. My worries vanished extremely quickly. The writing was wonderful, the world building beautiful, and the characters amazing. I was sucked into the world and putting the story down became an impossibility. In fact, I was extremely annoyed when the battery died on my Kindle and I was pulled out of the world for a short period of time – how dare such a menial thing interrupt my enjoyment. I was so sucked into the world that such a basic thing felt like an infringement of my human rights. I needed more of this story, I need to know where things went, and I could not tear my mind away from the amazing tale I was given.
What this amounts to is how you shouldn’t judge a book. People say this all the time, and yet it still happens. I often go into books with some kind of expectation, and this one was no different. Fortunately, this one surpassed all of my expectations, leaving me with fangirl feelings I had never anticipated. Without a doubt, this is a story I’m going to be recommending to friends. If you enjoy an action-packed fantasy read, then this is certainly for you. Although labelled as ‘young adult’, know it’s one of those stories that can be enjoyed by all. Honestly, this one does not feel like a young adult novel at all. Admittedly, it is not as graphic as dark adult fantasy, but there is enough in there for adults to enjoy it – for it to be one of those books that sit on the borderlines of the categorising. Not that you should allow something as simple as a categorisation of genre to influence your decision to read this – it’s well worth it for many reasons.
What are those reasons?
To begin, the world building. As already mentioned, it is beautiful. Throughout you can see how the story has been inspired by ancient myths, by past civilisations, and it truly is a thing of beauty. There are nods to the past without it feeling as though the author is simply regurgitating a history lesson with changed names. This is in relation to both the mythology we’re introduced to and the everyday life of the characters. Both had a certain feel about them that made it very easy for the reader to fall in love with the world. I constantly wanted to know more – more of the myths, more of how the world worked, basically more of everything.
More than that, though, is the building of the creatures of this world. Whilst it seems like a simple tale of shifters, there is so much more to this story. The shifter aspect of life is linked in with the mythology, and whilst I still have many questions, I found I adored the way in which this aspect of the story was told. I would like some more information in the future books, but this is something that hit me after reading. The questions I have are not the kind to prevent enjoyment – they’re simply the kind that will allow me to develop a fuller picture in my mind. The questions I have are a way for me to fall even deeper in love with the world.
As much as I loved the world, I came to find I loved the characters even more. Honestly, they were amazing. We have a truly amazing cast, and watching them develop throughout the story was a thing of beauty. We watch as prejudices are overcome – in terms of both gender and race. We watch as people reach their potential. We watch as secrets are uncovered. The amount of change to be seen with the characters throughout is positively amazing. I could say so much, but all the things I wish to say err on the side of being spoilers. Just know your views will change throughout – there are so many twists added, so many characters surprise you, that you’ll be left with emotional whiplash as everything comes together.
Another thing I wish to give a nod of respect towards is the lack of romance in this one. Whenever I read ‘young adult fantasy’ I fear the story will be consumed by romance. Whilst there is emotion to be seen throughout, whilst you can feel emotions building, nothing is ever overly shoved down your throat. This, I really loved. I hate it when romance dims the rest of the story, and such did not happen with this one. It was really refreshing, and I have so much respect for the author for this choice.
In all honesty, it was just little things that prevented me from giving this one a five star rating. One thing that got me was how at times words that were used didn’t quite seem to fit with the fantasy setting. It was never anything overly large – it wasn’t as though a bus was suddenly driving through the forest – but every so often a word would be used that threatened to pull me out of the magical world. The second thing is that certain events seemed to lack the emotional depth I would have liked – there was so much action that when something big and drastic happened, I felt as though I didn’t quite have time to experience every emotion that was connected to the event. Whilst action is amazing, when dire events happen, negative emotions need to be played with rather than skipped over. These are only little things, and I’m sure others will overlook them, but they prevented me from giving a five star rating. Part of this, though, is a reflection of how hard it is to pull a five star rating from me.
One thing I do believe, though, is that future books will have the potential to pull a five star rating from me. For this first book to be so close, I can only imagine the heights that the future books will reach. Honestly, I cannot wait to get hold of them – I’m super excited to see what the next books brings.
Overall, a truly wonderful read. If you’re looking for your next fantasy hit, you’ve found it with Issaura’s Claws.
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