Publisher: Penguin Random House Australia
Release Date: November 12th, 2015
Genres: Fairy Tales, Folk Tales, Legends & Mythology, Fantasy, Young Adult
For as long as Fei can remember, there has been no sound in her village. Her people are at the mercy of a mysterious faraway kingdom, which delivers food in return for precious metals mined from the treacherous cliffs surrounding them.
When villagers begin to lose their sight, their rations shrink and many go hungry. Fei's home, the boy she loves, and her entire existence is plunged into crisis, under threat of darkness and starvation.
Then Fei is awoken in the night by a searing noise, and sound becomes her weapon . . .
It’s a short standalone
SOUNDLESS is only 250 pages or so, which makes for a very quick read with a simple, straightforward plot. The short duration means that not a lot is developed or explored beyond what is important to the central plot (which isn’t necessarily a bad things). The story also wraps up really well for a fantasy standalone! (Not at all like those “standalones” with surprise second books a few weeks after release).
Nice introduction to high fantasy
Short duration and not having everything developed means that SOUNDLESS isn’t as intense as a lot of high fantasy can be. This wasn’t so great for a hardcore high fantasy fan like myself (I like my worlds, characters, plots and subplots super rich and detailed with multiple layers) but may be great for someone that struggles with the number of elements in your typical high fantasy. It’s also be a nice gateway book because of this.
The concept is interesting
The deaf village was the main reason I wanted to read this book (along with the promise of Chinese folklore). How was Richelle Mead going to explain things without sound? How does a character who has never heard anything before describe new sounds? I was actually surprised by the results. It was weird knowing the word for an adjective that Fae had no idea about.
I was scared I wasn’t going to like it at first
I struggled with the first few chapters of SOUNDLESS, I’m not going to lie. The main reason was the writing. It just wasn’t meshing with me during the first few chapters. There was a lot of telling going on (and I was getting frustrated because SHOW ME THINGS) and I’m not sure if it was grating on me because I was adjusting to the writing style or what. It is written in the same style as Vampire Academy & Bloodlines, which works really well for for paranormal romance but maybe not so much for high fantasy? In any case around the time Fei discovered sound was when I got more absorbed into the story and actually started to enjoy it.
There could have been more Chinese folklore elements
For a book that says it’s inspired by Chinese folklore on the summary there really wasn’t that much. I mean, the names, a few of the building designs, etc, etc do give the impression of an Asian culture, but really they could have just been any random fantasy world too. There is one super obvious folklore thing, but that doesn’t appear until the VERY END and is mentioned only a few times throughout. I would have loved to have seen more Ancient Chinese customs, fears, mythology, and creatures make appearances.
I was really excited for SOUNDLESS and unfortunately it didn’t meet my expectations of a brilliant high fantasy heavily inspired Chinese folkore. It was a nice short read that may be great for introducing new readers to the high fantasy genre, but it wasn’t as developed as some of the more hardcore/epic stuff I prefer to read.