Sora’s Quest (The Cat’s Eye Chronicles #1) by T.L. Shreffler (2012)
YA Fiction | Dark Fantasy Blurb:
“This book is permanently free on Amazon, BN.com, Apple, Kobo and more!
Sora Fallcrest always dreamed of adventure, but as a member of the nobility, she learned the ways of a Lady instead. Now seventeen, she is expected to choose a husband and marry. She plots to run away, but just as she is stepping out the door, she runs into a mysterious man–and is kidnapped.
Abducted from her manor, Sora is plunged into a world of magical races, arcane jewelry and forgotten lore. She finds herself at the mercy of a dangerous assassin, haunted by an even darker past. She yearns for freedom, but he won’t let her go–not when her Cat’s Eye necklace is the only thing that can save his life.
But the necklace itself presents a problem. It is an ancient device from the long forgotten War of the Races, and its magic has the ability to steal souls. Can Sora learn to wield its power — or will the power wield her?”
pooled ink Review:
Well, I’m officially hooked.
The other day I was at a bridal shower for a friend whom I haven’t seen in a long time and she recommended this book to me. She said it was free as an eBook so what did I have to lose? Well it turns out what I had to lose was my sanity. But in a good way. I’m not quite sure I can put my finger on it but somehow I became quickly addicted. I devoured this book and immediately purchased the sequel quickly followed by the third book in the series and I literally just downloaded book four. I’ve managed to read each in but a day (luckily I haven’t had any work or I would have struggled to wait).
I’m going to write a review for each book, but honestly so much has happened and I’m so deep into this world that it’ll be hard to separate the journeys I’ve been taken on. I probably should have stopped to review each book before moving on but I just couldn’t put them down. Anyway, book one, here goes…
I had almost no idea what to expect when I downloaded this book. My friend gave a very short vague description and I wasn’t really sold on the cover but I added it to my Goodreads TBR list anyway, and for whatever reason I ended up grabbing a copy, sitting down, and reading it later that very day.
Overall this is a 100% fantasy genre book. There are all sorts of races of creatures/humans, plenty of magic, no shortage of sword fighting, and obviously we follow a big epic quest. Perhaps if you’re not really into high fantasy stories then you’ll just think this book is rather silly…but then you’re seriously missing out. There is absolutely no lack of adventure and action in this book. High stakes and thirsty death follow these characters relentlessly from the moment the plot begins.
Our main characters are the curious and questionable allies – Dorian, Burn, and Crash – versus the powerful villain bent on vengeance against Crash – Volcrian. Our protagonist is Sora, a sheltered noblewoman who happens to come into possession with a Cat’s Eye stone and whom by chance ends up kidnapped by an assassin, Crash. Yes, I’m sure you’re noticing Crash as a common, and not particularly heartwarming, thread and you’d be right. Crash is a born assassin and he does not yield to emotions as his traveling companions do.
If you’re hoping for Crash a.k.a. the Viper a.k.a. the Dark One to have a soft spot for Sora and that all along his coldness was just a façade that will melt away during their journey…well, you’d be wrong. Like I said, he was born an assassin. Doesn’t matter though because he’s an infinitely intriguing character anyway. I’m probably crazy but I was rooting for him far before Sora even let the thought flit through her mind.
Dorian and Burn are both Wolfies, although Dorian is a Mage (he has magic) like Volcrian while Burn is a Mercenary (he’s built like a mountain). They’re both likeable characters and I was quick to become attached to them. Sora might be the group’s prisoner but at least these two tried to break the tension in the unfortunate situation. They definitely lent the story some humor and tenderness that was much needed as the plot was filled with dark choices indeed.
Sora was pretty cool actually. She wasn’t as annoying as I had anticipated for being raised a rich noblewoman. Sora proved herself strong spirited and determined but the book wasn’t so unrealistic as to give her instant power. Oh no. She had to train relentlessly to even manage keeping her feet in a one-on-one fight. Soft feet, lack of real world knowledge, no combat skills, etc. and yet she tried not to complain, she tried not to be swallowed by her near constant fear, and she tried to vanquish her honest uselessness. Overall I really liked her. Could she be occasionally annoying? Okay yeah, but I’m sure if you were kidnapped you wouldn’t be in a great mood either.
The world building proved to be quite creative, complex, and definitely rooted in fantasy. The characters travel across a variety of landscapes from fields to forests to swamps to jungles. Besides that they are faced with a multitude of obstacles as they traverse through these lands and cross into different territories. In particular we meet the Catlins, a sort of humanoid cat type species whom reside high up in the trees of the forest, and are introduced to their beliefs, traditions, and type of magic. This world is set 500 years after the War of the Races and Sora witnesses the true aftermath of that all-but-forgotten event.
The story itself was really quite good. Fantasy is so hit-or-miss because it can be difficult to fuse realism with a world so utterly fantastic. It’s generally too easy to resist the flimsy charms and spells of most fantasy tales but in my opinion Shreffler did a great job. A few inconsistencies perhaps but overall it was fast-paced, ruthless, imaginative, and definitely addictive. Not really any romance but there is hope for some later on. There were some gruesome gory scenes, particularly with Volcrian’s blood magic, which I tried very hard to not picture too closely. But yeah, what do you expect from a dark fantasy book?
I feel like I’m rambling and using an excess of words to say very little… I’m really not sure what to say but yeah, this book was pretty great. Lots of fantastic things about this book but really what sucked me in was that elusive indescribable something that some books just have. Definitely check it out if you’re into high fantasy or dark fantasy or fantasy in general. I’m not sure if this is YA or NA or what exactly because while Sora is only 17 everyone is in their twenties…doesn’t really matter though. I think a wide age range will enjoy this series.
Sora’s Quest is an intricate and immersive beginning to a deadly journey in a world filled with forgotten magic. Violent, beautiful, horrifying, and hopeful this book races forwards with determination and an endless sea of imagination hardly daring to stop to rest as the story leaps from the pages swathed in darkness. A must on every fantasy lover’s reading list.
Similar recommended reads: Lichgates (The Grimoire Saga #1) by S.M. Boyce, The Waking Land by Callie Bates, Trial by Fire by Josephine Angelini, The Shannara Chronicles by Terry Brooks, Chained by Susanne Valenti, The Resurgence of Violet Blake by Bre Faucheux
Meet T.L. Shreffler!
T. L. Shreffler lives in Los Angeles, CA. She loves diversity, fantasy, romance, iced tea, long walks, philosophy, and thrift store shopping. She recently graduated with a BA in Badass (Creative Writing) and her poetry has been published consecutively in Eclipse: A Literary Journal and The Northridge Review. She is author of The Cat’s Eye Chronicles(YA/Epic Fantasy) and The Wolves of Black River (PN Romance.)