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The Reader by Traci Chee ARC {4.5 Stars}

The Reader by Traci Chee will catch your eye immediately with that cover, but it will keep you hooked with its beautiful writing, fascinating magic, protagonists you just want to befriend, and pirates! I had high hopes but didn’t know what to expect from this book, and within a few chapters I could hardly contain my excitement because I had found one of those really special fantasies that remind you why you love reading.

Note: I borrowed an advanced copy of The Reader. Some things may have changed in the final version.

The Reader by Traci Chee ARC {4.5 Stars}

The Reader by Traci Chee (The Sea of Ink and Gold #1)
Published by Putnam Juvenille on Sept. 13th, 2016
Genres: Fantasy, YA
Page Length: 448 pages
How I got my copy: Borrowed
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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.

4.5 Stars


  • To match the beauty of the cover, the writing of The Reader is stunning. It felt like honey in my brain. It isn’t overly dense, so you can read quickly, but you might not be able to resist slowing down to savor every sentence. I felt completely immersed in this world and characters.
  • Book worms like us are always going to be hooked by a magic based on reading right? ;-) I was a little nervous about how this magic would be handled, but I ended up loving it! There is a very good reason that most people are illiterate in the world and I loved discovering the literal magic of reading alongside Sefia.
  • Sefia is a great heroine and she is joined quickly by a mute boy with a lot hiding under the surface. I really loved the friendship these two develop, and not just because they have to come up with their own method of communication. Their friendship is somewhere along that line between friends and romance, and that is honestly my favorite kind of ‘romance’ to find in a first book.
  • Pirates! I’m on such a sea-faring fantasy kick, so I was thrilled when the pirates featured heavily in the plot. These are the best kind of pirates too, since they are mostly interested in adventure and freedom, not brutally killing innocent heroines, haha.
  • The most unique aspect of The Reader is the layers of stories within stories. You’ll notice quickly that there are blood smears on the pages of your book and words strangely crossed out. There are also stories of pirates on the most amazing adventures. There is a lot to unpack and I suspect this will be a book many readers will want to immediately reread.


  • After this epic build-up of awesome characters, world, magic, and plot, the ending disappointed me a bit. It felt overly convenient and anti-climactic. I just hope that it’s because it’s the first in a series and there is much more to come.
  • At first I was enchanted with these words that started appearing at the bottom of the page next to the page number. Then I became annoyed at trying to remember the sentence forming as I read the book. I recommend either writing them down as you go or not worrying about it and flipping through once you are done to form the full thing. Or read it all in one sitting so that you don’t forget?


The Reader is nearly everything I love in YA fantasy. Beautiful magic, heartfelt characters, unique storytelling techniques and writing that reminds me of why I love to read. Despite a slight trip at the end, I highly recommend this book for fans of YA fantasy and pirates ;-).

Anya from On Starships and Dragonwings

Have you read this one? What did you think? Are you excited for it if you haven’t gotten to it yet?
– Anya


 The Reader by Traci Chee

© 2016, Anya. All rights reserved.


  1. Eeeep! Yours is the 2nd glowing review I’ve read for this TODAY :D Honey in your brain?! GIMME THIS^^ I’m sorry that the ending felt a bit anti-climactic but hopefully the second book will make up for it! GREAT review! xx
    Micheline @ Lunar Rainbows Reviews recently posted…Review: Every WordMy Profile

  2. Definitely liking the sound of this book. I was interested in it right from the start with the magic system – but I am so glad to hear that Sefia is so likable. And, honestly, I was more than a little concerned that the romance would take over everything – like it’s been doing with most of YA fantasy I’ve read lately – so hearing that it’s a little less ‘shoved-down-your-throat’ alleviates that fear.
    Amy @ Pages of Starlight recently posted…Top Ten Favorite Sci-Fi BooksMy Profile

  3. Ahhhhhhhhhhhh between your review here and Mogsy’s @ Bibliosanctum, I need need NEED to get my hands on The Reader right away!! It sounds like an amazing story. And really, what bookworm can resist a book about books and reading?
    Sara L. recently posted…New DIY MFA Article on the “Why” Behind Our WritingMy Profile

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