by Traci Chee
Series: Sea of Ink and Gold #1
Narrator: Kim Mai Guest
Length: 12 hours and 31 minutes
Purchase*: Amazon | Audible *affiliate
Narration: 5 cups
A stunning debut set in a world where reading is forbidden, perfect for fans of Inkheart and Shadow and Bone
Sefia knows what it means to survive. After her father is brutally murdered, she flees into the wilderness with her aunt Nin, who teaches her to hunt, track, and steal. But when Nin is kidnapped, leaving Sefia completely alone, none of her survival skills can help her discover where Nin’s been taken, or if she’s even alive. The only clue to both her aunt’s disappearance and her father’s murder is the odd rectangular object her father left behind, an object she comes to realize is a book—a marvelous item unheard of in her otherwise illiterate society. With the help of this book, and the aid of a mysterious stranger with dark secrets of his own, Sefia sets out to rescue her aunt and find out what really happened the day her father was killed—and punish the people responsible.
With overlapping stories of swashbuckling pirates and merciless assassins, The Reader is a brilliantly told adventure from an extraordinary new talent.
The Reader by Traci Chee is the first novel in the Sea of Ink and Gold trilogy. A young adult fantasy filled with magic, darkness, suspense, and a world that was both dark and beautiful. Narrated by Kim Mai Guest, I found myself losing myself to this world and its characters.
I am still trying to wrap my head around the delightful things contained within this novel/audio. The Reader is a début novel, and the writing has a flow and beauty rarely seen from seasoned authors. From the very first page I was drawn into this world, captivated by its characters, intrigued, and horrified by the concept. This story takes place in a world where books no longer exist, where the written word is lost.
After her father’s brutal murder, Sefia, and her Aunt Nin fled into the wilderness, going into towns to pickpocket and pilfer their wares. Those who sought a rare, powerful item, a book that Sefia carries in the bottom of her sack murdered her father. When those who find the book kidnap Nin, Sefia’s journey begins.
The item in Sefia’s pack is a book, but she does not know the name of this mysterious object only that father protected it. It is the reason she was kept hidden and why her mother taught her such strange things as a child. With Nin gone, she is desperate to find her but also curious. Alone in the woods she opens the strange book and unleashes its magic. The tale that unfolds left me breathless.
The story like many fantasies has many interconnecting and shifting storylines from cold, merciless assassins, secret librarians and pirates on the open sea. Chee weaves them all into the story as Sefia encounters characters along the way who become significant parts of the tale. None of the characters are two-dimensional, and I wager you will develop strong feelings for all of them.
Adventure on the high sea, ruthless chases in the jungle, treks into dangerous unknown territories and battles with assassins. The world building is vivid and filled with both wonder and horror. I can not imagine a world without books, let alone one without written words. I was thirsty for information, rewarded and yet craved more. When this happens, I know I have a discovered a story that will continue to pull me in. Chee brilliantly brought the story and imagery to life with a hundred and one quotable lines you’ll want to highlight. At times, the story is so thrilling and exciting your heart bursts with excitement and other scenes leave you cringing and holding your breath.
Every moment spent with the book was magic, and I loved discovering things along with Sefia. Her transformation throughout the book was interesting. Sefia is driven, compassionate and fearless in her aid to others. Her transformation from fearful misfit to fantastic heroine felt genuine. She develops a close friendship with a young man when she unknowingly saves him from the bowels of hell. Feelings emerge between them as they travel together. However, the relationship develops slowly, and I look forward to seeing it bloom.
Some stories are meant to be read aloud, and the audible narration of The Reader by narrator Kim Mai Guest is such a story. I could not stop listening as Guest captured the tone of the story and Sefia’s quest. She brought the characters emotions to life, set the pacing and pulled me in with her accent and unique voices.
Espresso review: The Reader is an exquisitely written début that comes to life through the narration by Kim Mai Guest. The story filled with magic, pirates, assassins, thieves and more has characters who will steal your heart!
[bctt tweet=”The Reader by Traci Chee a brilliant, addictive audio listen” username=”kimbacaffeinate”]
I’ve heard such good things about this one, but am wary about starting ANOTHER series. But if the audio is that good, I may give it a go anyway! I have a much easier time fitting in audiobooks these days 🙂
This sounds fascinating and I love a good audio book! I recently saw the cover and have been curious about the book. Thanks for sharing! 🙂
I hope you decide to try it Jess.
I’ve seen very good reviews of this one! It sounds like something I’d love, too, with assassins and thieves (really, I love shady characters, I wonder why that is…).
And thanks for mentioning the slow-burn romance relationship, I like those. I always cringe when I see instalove in YA books. Great review!
Sometimes I can handle insta-love if the author backs it up.
I just bought this book at the YA Lit Conference at Anderson’s and I’m so excited to read it! Glad you loved it! Sounds like the narration for the audiobook was fantastic too!
Yay, I am glad it is on your bookshelf..enjoy!
Oh wow, I’m so happy to see how much you enjoyed this one! I have it on my shelf, but I wasn’t sure it was for me. I’m definitely thinking I need to check out the audio!
Glad I shared with you Lisa. I really enjoyed it.
I am adding this to my Audible Wish List. Sounds really good. Thanks for sharing your thoughts.
I cannot wait to see what you think Martha.
Who can resist all the promise of the interesting and action packed characters. I might have to give this a go on audio.
I hope you try it 🙂
I”ve had this on my TBR for a bit, but haven’t got around to reading it — I’m thinking now the audio might be better! Wonderufl review and I’m so thrilled it’s as good as I hoped!
Oh yes, I thought the narration only enhanced my experience.
I really liked Kim Mai but I couldn’t help but feeling a little bored by this one, glad you loved it though Kim!
Nereyda│ Nick & Nereyda’s Infinite Booklist
Sorry to hear that, maybe the audio lifted it in areas that bored you
I have an ARC of this at home but I kept putting it off because I misjudged the book by its cover. i had no idea the book’s synopsis would be what it is! Guess I should have read the back of the book!
Now I can’t wait to read it!
LOL, well you know the old adage – never judge a book by it;s cover!
It really was Linda 🙂
I’m thrilled that you enjoyed this one so much! I really enjoyed actually reading this one but was very curious about how it would translate to audiobook.
I’m curious as to how it was differentiated when you were reading from The Book and when it was a narrative?
Love you review!
Hi Di, if the narrator is good they enhance the story and characters emotions.
I am so excited for this book and I am not sure why I haven’t read it yet. I am so glad you liked it. So far I have only heard positive things. 😀
Glad the feedback has all been positive. Enjoy Kay!
I have just written on other blogs about how I cannot start another series, until I finish the ones I have already started. BUT, I have to admit I added this one to my audio wish list. Great review, as always 🙂
I say that all the time and then I see a good book and bam! It is like giving up coffee!
This has been on my radar for some time, and now your review has convinced me that it is a must! I am slo very pleased to know that this is a good audiobook option since I sometimes struggle with narrators, but my condition is making audiobooks a necessity at times. Thank you for sharing this one ❤
The narration only added to this story, enjoy Danielle
I’ve seen some good reviews for this so I’m glad that you really enjoyed it and the audio too.
Thanks Ali. Have a lovely weekend
La La in the Library
Well, Inkheart and Shadow and Bone are two of my all time favorites, so this book should be delightful. Thanks for sharing your review. 🙂
Those books are on my wishlist my friend
The Bibliophile Babe
I’m dying to read this one!
I hope you love it!!
You’ve got me all excited about this book again. Look out book budget!
Book budget, more like my own personal national debt 🙂 I look around at my books and think, I have the equivalent of a car in my living room.
Mine would be a bus! Or maybe a small train. LOL
I saw the ebook in one of the libraries I am a part of and was instantly curious, a world without books? The fact that it sounds like the writing is so good, I will have to put myself on waiting list
Sweet, I hope you enjoy it as much as I did Lily 🙂
The stunning, creative backdrop to this story has me super interested. The plot doesn’t sound half bad, either. 😉
Nice review, Kimberly!
No indeed, the story was well done.
Lovely review as always, Kim. You’re reading a bunch of awesome books this year, huh? You lucky duck!
It seems like it, although I don’t review books I DNF or toss aside except on Goodreads.
Glad to see you enjoyed this one! I do really like the premise, though the idea of no books is horrifying!
Right, a world without books would be terrifying. Give me vampires but I need books.
That sounds like a great adventure. Pirates and assassins can make for a great read it seems.
Two of my favorite things 🙂 Mary
WOW, fabulous review. Makes me want to run right out and get a copy. 🙂
Thank you Sherri, this was a great listen
Oh my goodness, Kim!! I got this at BEA, and now, I want to leave everything else behind and just pick it up! It sounds absolutely amazing 🙂 Great review!
Oh awesome find at BEA. Enjoy my friend 🙂
I’m adding this to my cart RIGHT NOW! And it might be one of those that I get the book and the audio for because the cover is gorgeous and I may need to pet it while I listen. 😉 This sounds absolutely fantastic, Kim, even if I can’t imagine a world without books or reading. I’m eager to meet Sefia!
Happy err, petting!
I’ve been thinking of picking this up! Definitely glad to see it’s a fantastic read. And it’s awesome that the narration is great too! Win, win! Lovely review, Kim!
I hope you do. It was different and the narration just brought it to life for me
I didn’t know you read this :). Sounds great!!
Yes, early reviews had me grabbing the audio 🙂
What a great premise for a new series. Thanks for the fantastic review Kim, even though its YA I think I would like it.
YA is just a suggestion of where to begin. Granted I am not into Contemporary YA, and all that high school drama but give me a fantasy world or dystopian and I am all in.
Pirates and assassins? I believe we have a winner! *takes note of the book*
That was exactly what I said, then there is the whole book thing!
It sounds like a really good book./audio, Gotta love when an author produces such highlight-able material.
I had fun with this one, I love when the world pulls you in..plus pirates and assassins, how awesome is that.