Wednesday, 6 January 2016

Black Halo: the Witch & the Guardian

Black Halo: the Witch & the Guardian

by A.S. Aramiru

3 out of 5

With the Light, came Magic, and the Witch. As mysterious as she was fearsome, and as powerful as she was merciless, the Witch almost succeeded in ending the world until she was vanquished by a hero and his comrades.

This is the legend of the Witch and the Guardian.

Centuries after the nigh calamity, this legend is as much as almost anyone knows of what truly happened back then and as much of an explanation anyone has of what ended an era in human civilization.

Though the people may never learn the whole story, you as the reader will follow the days that led up to how a young girl named Lily became immortalized as the Witch though her name, dreams and life became forgotten.

*Note: I bought this in July 2015, I've got a feeling there may be a newer edition recently out; but this is a review of what I've got*

The world has been thrown into paranoia and fear when a mysterious light appears, at the same time a powerful witch and her red-haired companion show up. Soon "Gifted" children are starting to appear, threatening society.

This was an interesting spin on a tale of witchcraft. It reminded me of X-Men, in the sense that these individuals seemed to be victims of natural evolution; the Gifted had one special gift or ability (teleportation,mind-reading, super strength etc); and the focus on Gifted children living at a special school.
It focusses less on the actual magic, than many in its genre.  Refreshingly it is a dark review of the worst parts of human society.  Featuring kidnapping, child trafficking and a lot of politics; it is fascinating to see how society would turn on their own children, obeying the mass hysteria and blaming what they do not understand, rather than seeing that the fault is within themselves.

I thought there were some very powerful and expressive sections, and through his characters, Aramiru has given us some new quotes and ideas to think about.

I think this would make a fantastic film. It is very visual, every piece of magic is remarkably described.
A great film, but a sometimes difficult book.
1) With every other chapter, you jump to another person and you are suddenly in the thick of it, without any buffering or reminders at where you are or who you're with. This would work well on screen, as you recognise the face and the scene; but there were many points where I got frustrated with "Who the hell (insert stronger expletive here) is Fred?", followed by scrolling back to try and find their last appearance.
There were some chapters that had scene changes with no actual mention of names for the first page, leaving you wondering whose head you were in.
2) Scene repetition - in relation to the narrative jumping from one person to another, it would feel like we were starting to make traction in the story, when suddenly you'd be dragged back in time, to before Point A or Point B happened, to relive it step by step through another character. I couldn't help but get annoyed because it was simply repeating itself and not providing any additional information for the plot.
3) Timeline confusion leading on from the above point, it got very confusing trying to work out where we were in the timeline. I felt that the central thread of the story wasn't solid enough, the surrounding storylines didn't always explain where they were in relation to it.
There were several chapters that jumped back in time - made even more confusing by the fact that the Witch is called Ruby. This is explained about half-way through ((by the way, I actually love the back-story and how the Witch's life transforms, which is mirrored with the names she takes on)), and perhaps it would have been easier to follow if there were dates or years heading the chapters and interludes.
4) I felt that some of the dialogue and narrative was very... direct. Sorry, it's hard to explain, but it did feel almost like stage directions being voiced. One character would reel off all that he/she knew of the other character; what they should know and what they predicted they should do.
It would be alright if it was just one character's trait that they spoke this way, it could have come across as powerful and insightful; but it happened so often, it just became a bit of a headache.
Similarly, I felt that because everybody was stating their intentions whenever the spotlight was on them, it missed out on some fantastic potential twists and betrayals.

Overall, I really like the story and creativity. The plot is good, too. I just felt that at times, Aramiru was trying to show me his whole world at once, and as a newcomer, I was a little overwhelmed. And as a reader, I wanted to make a few more discoveries for myself.

Goodreads link

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