The Reader by Traci Chee

October 20th, 2016 Kimberly Review 64 Comments

20th Oct
The Reader by Traci Chee
The Reader
by Traci Chee
Series: Sea of Ink and Gold #1
Narrator: Kim Mai Guest
Length: 12 hours and 31 minutes
Genres: Fantasy
Source: Publisher
Purchase*: Amazon | Audible *affiliate
Rating: One StarOne StarOne StarOne StarHalf a Star
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.

coverlove fantasy magical well written

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!


The Reader by Traci Chee a brilliant, addictive audio listen Click To Tweet


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About Kimberly
Kimberly is a coffee loving book addict who reads and listens to fictional stories in all genres. Whovian, Ravenclaw, Howler and proud Nonna. She owns and manages Caffeinated PR. The coffee is always on and she is ready to chat. Twitter | Facebook | Instagram

64 Responses to “The Reader by Traci Chee”

  1. Christine

    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 🙂

  2. Jess

    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! 🙂

  3. Kaja

    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!

  4. Nicole

    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!

  5. Lisa

    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!

  6. Toady

    Who can resist all the promise of the interesting and action packed characters. I might have to give this a go on audio.

  7. verushka

    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!

  8. Emily Alfano

    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!

  9. Di

    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!

  10. Kay

    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. 😀

  11. Paij Slater

    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 🙂

  12. Danielle Nolan

    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 ❤

  13. Lily B

    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

  14. Sophia Rose

    The stunning, creative backdrop to this story has me super interested. The plot doesn’t sound half bad, either. 😉

    Nice review, Kimberly!

  15. Rowena

    Lovely review as always, Kim. You’re reading a bunch of awesome books this year, huh? You lucky duck!

  16. Lexxie

    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!

  17. Bookworm Brandee

    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!

  18. Cyn

    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!

    • kimbacaffeinate

      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.