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
Published by: Penguin Random House
Narrator: Kim Mai Guest
Length: 12 hours and 31 minutes
Genres: Fantasy
Source: Publisher
Purchase: Amazon | Audible
Narration Rating: 5 musical notes
Rating: One StarOne StarOne StarOne StarHalf a Star

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


About Traci Chee

Traci Chee

Traci Chee is an author of speculative fiction for teens. An all-around word geek, she loves book arts and art books, poetry and paper crafts, though she also dabbles at piano playing, egg painting, and hosting potluck game nights for family and friends. She studied literature and creative writing at UC Santa Cruz and earned a master of arts degree from San Francisco State University. Traci grew up in a small town with more cows than people, and now feels most at home in the mountains, scaling switchbacks and happening upon hidden highland lakes. She lives in California with her fast-fast dog. The Reader is her YA debut.

Reading this book contributed to these challenges:

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About Kimberly
Kimberly is a coffee loving book addict who reads and listens to fictional stories in all genres. She's a self-professed Whovian, as well as a Supernatural, and Sherlock Holmes junkie, She enjoys sharing books, tips, recipes and hosting the Sunday Post. The coffee is always on and she is ready to chat...Twitter | Facebook | Instagram

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64 Responses to “The Reader by Traci Chee”

    • 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.

  1. 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!

    Bookworm Brandee recently posted: #OctobeRecFest Review ~ Jaxson ~ Alisa Woods
  2. 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 ❤

  3. 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. 😀

  4. 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!

    Di recently posted: Weekly Round Up #5
  5. 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!

  6. 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 🙂

    Christine recently posted: October #ShelfLove Update