Book Review: SOUL OF THE ELEPHANT by Pam Laughlin

In the first book of The Kind Mahout Series, entitled Soul of the Elephant, author Pam Laughlin introduces Hemit, a boy who lives during the British occupation of India. Hemit is rapidly approaching the age when he will choose his own elephant, and is at odds with his father over their training—Hemit believes that kindness will get better results than cruelty. While his father clings to the old ways, Hemit finds a kindred soul in the form of a mysterious hermit called The Husher who, with a mystical process, can reach the soul of the elephant.

Whether Hemit can keep his forbidden relationship with The Husher secret and be able to convince his father to change his ways are the central conflicts of the story.

Pam's Book 1

There are many fascinating aspects to this book, including the customs and food of a people with whom I was not acquainted before. Ms. Laughlin provides lush descriptions of the scenery and tantalizing depictions of their meals, as well as in-depth portrayals of the social caste system and the hunting process (the duck hunt especially intrigued me).

But in spite of, or perhaps because of, the simplicity of Hemit’s life, there’s a sense of imminent danger throughout. Nature sends lightning, rainstorms and floods; the British bureaucrats are both overbearing and condescending; and the elephants themselves can pose significant risks. Not to mention the tiger (or is it a were-tiger?) that preys on the villagers.

If there’s a negative to this book, it’s that some appealing minor characters appear here and there, but don’t have a significant role to play in the narrative. I’m hoping these characters have more to tell us as the series continues.

I recommend this book for its smooth writing and excellent imagery, as well as the sheer depth of knowledge it displays. I enjoyed every page of it.

Notes: From time to time I am asked, or volunteer, to write a review of a novel by another author. Please be assured that, although I may have an acquaintance with the author involved, the views expressed are entirely my own and are based on the book itself and nothing else. For it is only by being honest that I can expect my readers to trust me.

I was provided with a copy of this book by the author, with the provision that I write an honest review.

If you have a book you’d like reviewed and are willing to accept my unadulterated opinion, contact me through the website. I’ll be accepting adult full-length novels in all genres except Horror and Erotica, and posting no more than one review per month, on a book chosen at random from among those submitted. However, if your book is not chosen this month, it will remain on the list and have more opportunities to be “the one”. You may, of course, withdraw your request at any time.

Please note: due to poor eyesight and therefore limited screen time, I am unable to review any book for which a hard copy is not provided. My apologies to ebook-only formats: I wish I could accommodate you as well.

THE BRICKMAKER’S BRIDE by Judith Miller, book review

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Brick

I picked this book up on a whim: the title drew me in. I regret to say I didn’t really enjoy it. The writing was too simple for my taste and though the plot had great potential, the twists and the ending were telegraphed early on and there was nothing unexpected happening at any point.

Of the characters, I liked Ewan best. Even though he was too preachy for my taste, I could admire him for his love of his family and his work ethic.

The overriding theme of the book seemed to be that good things happen because of God and bad things happen because of people who don’t do God’s will. I found this extremely simplistic and even a bit insulting, as it dismisses outright any set of beliefs that don’t include the Christian God. There are absolutely good people who aren’t Christians, and evil is sometimes done by those who profess deep faith in the Christian God. The theme could have been presented much more subtly; if emphasis had been shifted to the romance plot and character development, this would, in my opinion, have been a much better book.

2 Stars

WHAT BOYS ARE MADE OF by S. Hunter Nisbet, Book Review

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Is a chance to escape a life not worth living worth the danger of losing it altogether?

In the near future, a tripartite civil war in the US has left the village of Buchell in Appalachia under the boot of an oppressive cartel leader. The citizens have for too long allowed Jeff Petrowski to keep control of the town, for those who oppose him are nearly always found dead.

This is the story of Simon “Saint” Flaherty, a teenage boy whose one talent is fighting, and of Erin Livingston, who took Simon in when he was orphaned some years earlier. Against a background of fear, poverty, and fight scenes reminiscent of Roman times, the characters struggle to come to grips with their secrets and their changing relationship.

In this gritty novel, the atmosphere is perfectly matched by Nisbet’s writing, which surprisingly has a raw lyricism all its own. Told in multiple points of view in the first person present tense, it gives the reader a deep look inside the personalities of the characters as events unfold. The reader is caught up completely in the story, in the characters, in their dilemmas as they search for any way out of Buchell.

If I have one criticism of this novel, it’s that it ended too soon. I’m looking forward to reading the next book in this series.

Notes: From time to time, I am asked, or volunteer, to write a review of a novel by another author. Please be assured that, although I may have an acquaintance with the author involved, the views expressed will be entirely my own and will be based on the book itself and nothing else. For it is only by being honest that I can expect my readers to trust me.

I was provided with a pre-release copy of this book by the author, with the provision that I write an honest review. It has been my distinct pleasure to do so.

If you have a book you’d like reviewed and are willing to accept my unadulterated opinion, contact me through the website. I’ll be accepting adult full-length novels, and posting no more than one review per month, on a book chosen at random from among those submitted. However, if your book is not chosen this month, it will remain on the list and have more opportunities to be “the one”. You may, of course, withdraw your request at any time.

Please note: due to poor eyesight and therefore limited screen time, I am unable to review any book for which a hard copy is not provided. My apologies to ebook-only formats: I wish I could accommodate you as well.