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Saturday, 23 January 2016

Insight Kindling by Chess Desalls (Call to Search Everywhen, #2) - Book Review - Indie

4/5 Stars

Pursued by the sentient being of white light that's been tracking her father's bloodline,

Calla fears her newfound talents may not be enough to protect her and her teammates before they complete their mission...

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Edition: Kindle
Pages: 200 (Roughly.)
Chapters: 53 (Plus an epilogue.)
Publisher: Czidor Lore, LLC

Book Links: Goodreads
                      Amazon
                      Author's Website

Review

Time to grab your travel glasses and get ready for an adventure through time and space!

The first entry in this series, Travel Glasses, feels rough around the edges; Insight Kindling, on the other hand, is sharper and smoother, boasting a fascinating world. Logic isn't always on display, so suspend your disbelief, but once you adopt a carefree and invested attitude, Ms Desalls's creation is fun.

There is a warning at the beginning, advising readers to pick up the first book before reading this one, and I agree. Stepping into Insight Kindling is more like changing chapters rather than novels, and having some history and a fundamental knowledge of the series' mechanics goes a long way.

SPOILER WARNING

Synopsis (Not a copy from the book, but I always keep my interpretations close.)

Calla has broken the rules laid out by the Time and Space Travel Agency (TSTA).
Summoned to a hearing to account for her actions, our protagonist realises she's in a sticky web of someone else's making.
Found guilty, she'll have to set out on a dangerous mission to appease for her crime.
A mission close to the TSTA's heart.
A mission close to her own.
Calla, along with the mysterious Valcas, must hunt down Calla's missing father.
Before a sentient being of light can eat them whole...

Plot - 4/5 Stars

Again, Chess throws us right into the meat of the story, much like in Travel Glasses. I cannot love that quality more. We have tension and intrigue as Calla faces down charges for her mistakes. The author imbues the reader with the same emotions our main character must be feeling: Confusion and fear.

From then on we're treated to mystery and missions, fascinating adventures through different worlds as the plot finally makes use of Calla's missing father. It's Insight Kindling that reveals a superb villain in the form of an incorporeal being of light named the Uproar. And I like it, I like it a lot. It balances on a knife's edge between brilliance and gimmicky, thankfully managing to stay away from the latter. I do hope it becomes more menacing, because for the most part of the plot, it doesn't do much but haunt and knock people down.

Have I mentioned the worlds? The adventure aspects are on point. The places our characters visit are vast and vivid, perfectly described to give the reader a full experience.

I do feel that as everything progresses, the series' mythology gets a lot more complicated and cluttered. Just as you're accepting the things you can't 100% wrap your mind around, new things are bundled on top (like innate abilities linked to time travelling; the fact that they can't use their travelling devices behind the Fire Falls, but we're given no reason as to why). Like this novel's predecessor, it's all very 50/50. Some of it is sheer awesomeness, while other parts hurt the brain.

Again, just throw yourself into it without a care, because it's an enjoyable journey.

The end leaves on a precarious note, one with a subtle twist about Valcas that begs the reader to keep going with the series (and I definitely will), but Calla completely let me down. Just as I am warming up to her she reacts wildly and unrealistically. More on that below.

Pace - 4.5/5 Stars

Chess feels a lot more confident in this area, as well as in her writing. It's great in Travel Glasses, but Insight Kindling just exudes more experience and skill. The fast-paced qualities of the novel drive everything forward with conviction, but the author still manages to convey the plot and characters clearly.

Essentially, a short and compelling read.

Characters - 4.5/5 Stars

The cast also feels stronger, more rounded and real. Chess improves upon existing characters while pulling out all the stops for newbies, who are all distinct and lovable. Their chemistry is undeniable, and it's a pleasure to join them on their journey.

Calla still divides me. Especially when we reach her reaction at the end. Too many times we're told what she's like, by other characters, but we're not really shown the qualities she's given. There's too much of a generic, empty feel. 

Valcas, on the flip side, is still going great. Who doesn't love a tortured love interest? Speaking of love, the romantic connections in Insight Kindling are mostly natural; they don't impose themselves over the story. More standouts come in the form of Ivory, who's tough, hilarious and a firm favourite, and Ray, who's kind, lovable and someone you can't help but root for.

All in all, fantastic.

Writing - 4/5 Stars

Much the same as what I said about the pace: Smoother, more experienced and clear and concise. I love watching an author grow, and Ms Desalls is awesome.

Overall - 4/5 Stars

A powerful sequel that satisfies the sci-fi in me, and a story I'm looking forward to continuing.

Keep an eye out for the third book, Time for the Lost, coming at the beginning of February.


Previous Instalment: Travel Glasses
Next Instalment: Time for the Lost


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