Wednesday, 3 June 2015

Book Review: Such A Secret Place

SUCH A SECRET PLACE by Cortney Pearson
3 Stars
Verdict: Brilliant but inconsistent fantasy concept.

Raids splatter across the news--Arcaian soldiers are stealing magic left and right, using it against the people they steal it from.

When sixteen-year-old Ambry Csille's brother gets taken in one of these raids, her utter fear and panic should be enough to invoke tears in any normal world. But for Ambry, tears are a thing of the past.

Because of a spell, people can no longer feel emotion; not enough to cry, and definitely not enough to defend themselves against the tyrannical soldiers stealing her people’s magic. A rare vial of enchanted tears chooses Ambry to reverse the spell, and soon she finds herself the target not only of the Arcaians, but of battle-scarred Talon Haraway, who wants the tears for his own reasons.

All Ambry wants is to rescue her brother, but when her tears get stolen, Ambry determines to work with Talon to get them back. Any day the Arcaians could drink her tears. Any day they’ll succeed at draining her people's magic completely, and all hope will be gone—not only for her brother, but for her world.


Sink or swim is an apt description of this book. The opening chapters were mainly exposition which made it hard for me to get into. Lots of terms were mentioned, some explained better than others. I still have many questions about the world, and I felt like not enough of it was shown.

I decided to cling to some driftwood and go with the flow. After all, this is by no means a bad book. The creativity of the concepts knocked my socks off, from stealing magic to the emotional blunted society. The romance is gradual and feels natural, and there are plenty of action snippets throughout.

I still found the poor author never gripped my interest. One of the main issues was show don’t tell, and a few of the told concepts felt very inconsistent making it hard to follow at times.

Ambry doesn’t have magic... Then what is she doing at school where they seem to be learning about magic? We’re told she gets extra time during tests because she’s powerless, but what are these tests? Extra time won’t help you fill up a canister with magic (which is the only thing we’re shown).

No emotion was also a fascinating concept... except characters did have emotion. Rather sporadically though. I thought I understood the rules, but I’m pretty sure the author breaks them a couple of times throughout the book, and then changes the rules towards the end. Some characters clearly have emotion and magic, and I couldn’t help but wonder why the main character never at least questioned this a little more.

Descriptions were usually clever but minimal, powerful in places and lacking in others. From time to time, I ended up with a very flat idea of where the characters were. The author had some good lines up their sleeve and a bit of wit, but I can’t help but think it was often misplaced. A witty line isn’t a good substitute for description, and if you have to drag out a scene to add in humour, it gets tedious.

When I start editing a book as I read, I just know it’s not quite as polished as it could be.

Logic was also obscure. For example, if I hypothetically caught someone who had a bounty of 100K, I wouldn’t just steal their necklace and let them go, no matter how valuable the necklace is.

Other times, the scene would rapidly change with little warning. Action scenes were good and plenty, although it wasn’t always clear what was going on. Towards the middle of the book, I felt like there was too much emphasis on long fights, without much tension behind them. Some parts were much, much stronger than others.

Overall, it just seemed a bit rushed. Such a secret place has five star potential, but not quite there yet, at least, not for me.

Source:, from a lovely author