Review: Prisoner of the Elements

Prisoner of the Elements by Zian Schafer

4 stars – I liked it; it was good

This book is one I’m an ARC reader for. She contacted me several months ago about reading this book, and while I received the book several weeks ago, I was swamped with work and thus only began reading it on May 3, 2022, so I made sure to read it quickly. Check out the author’s website here.

Finished on May 6, 2022.

Enticing and Full of Angst

Althea Viteri is a mortal in the Empire of Fire, Audor, and as such, she lives below the fae, weak and powerless. Only—she’s not powerless. Althea was born with a gift unlike the lands of Zephryine have ever seen before. She’s had to hide who she is, cover her body so no one sees the marks upon it, but one day, her father’s life is threatened, and her secrets are revealed. Now, Althea is a prisoner, and she has no idea what the King of Audor, or what his son, Prince Auberon, have in store for her.

The main thing that a reader should know about this book is that it’s for mature audiences. There are trigger warnings at the beginning of the book for this reason, but I’ll reiterate it here. There are dark themes in this book, and it is not suitable for younger readers.

The main character is Althea Viteri, and she lives in Audor, and kingdom ruled by the immortal fae with control of fire, known as Cintis. Their lands are in ruins, and natural disasters are common among mortals, as is a nasty plague—punishments from their gods, the Anzeth. The story follows Althea in first-person perspective and does not hold back in the more gruesome or graphic scenes.

I’d say as a character, she is not my favourite, but this is mainly because she struggles throughout the book with her own self-doubt, and her character development doesn’t revolve around her gaining more confidence in herself. Rather, the plot focuses on what’s happening around her. She is witty and sarcastic, and often times this works against her, but overall, she is an enjoyable character to read.

Queen Melonia
art from the official website
art from the official website

As for the other characters, I liked Althea’s Ma and Pa, and both her positive and negative relationships with the other people in Audor—Evander, Auberon, the king and queen, and several of the palace servants. Each of these other characters has their own individual personality and voice, and they each have a realistic feel to them. Their own motivations are not always clear, but seeing them through Althea’s eyes, the reader gets a good idea of who they are and how they differ from one another.

A nice touch this book has is including quotes at the beginning of each chapter, though I must admit, I’m not sure if the quote directly ties into the chapter, or if it just carries a similar theme.

The pacing of the book was good, but as can be decerned above, I read this book in three days. That’s the fastest I’ve ever read a novel of this length. Still, the scenes flowed with one another. There were never parts in which I wanted to skip to get the story going, nor were there parts that felt like they were moving too fast. The author gave enough detail about the plot, characters, magic, and other worldbuilding so as not to confuse the reader, but to keep them wondering about things. I can’t say I was ever confused at any point throughout this story.

The biggest critique I have about this book is the number of copyediting mistakes I found in the text. I would say this isn’t from a lack of copyeditor, but I certainly would say that it needs another run-through—perhaps if the editor used a speech app to have the story be read aloud. I found inconsistencies in names, pronouns, and spelling, though not enough to impede the comprehension of the text, just my enjoyment of it.

At its core, the book deals with trauma—physical and mental—and how it affects people’s lives. There are characters represented with physical disabilities and others who struggle with their mental health, and I found these representations as realistic as I am able to, being someone who does not struggle with most of what is presented.

map from the official website

In conclusion, I’d say it’s a well-written book that I’d recommend to mature readers who enjoy dark high-fantasy stories.

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