The Root by Na’amen Tilahun is pretty much everything I want in a book: vast world-building, unique and captivating magic, scary and other-worldly enemy, and characters that actually show the full spectrum of humanity in all its skin colors, genders, and sexualities. I picked this book up because I was so happy to see two heroes with dark skin on the cover, but what I got was so so so much more.
Note: I received an advanced copy of The Root from the publisher. Some things may have changed in the final version.
The Root by Na'amen Tilahun (Wrath and Athenaeum #1)
Published by Nightshade Books on June 7th, 2016
Genres: Fantasy, YA
Page Length: 410 pages
How I got my copy: Publisher
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A dark, gritty urban fantasy debut set in modern-day San Francisco, filled with gods, sinister government agencies, and worlds of dark magic hidden just below the surface.
When a secret government agency trying to enslave you isn’t the biggest problem you’re facing, you’re in trouble.
Erik, a former teen star living in San Francisco, thought his life was complicated; having his ex-boyfriend in jail because of the scandal that destroyed his career seemed overwhelming. Then Erik learned he was Blooded: descended from the Gods.
Struggling with a power he doesn’t understand and can barely control, Erik discovers that a secret government agency is selling off Blooded like lab rats to a rival branch of preternatural beings in ’Zebub—San Francisco’s mirror city in an alternate dimension.
Lil, a timid apprentice in ’Zebub, is searching for answers to her parents’ sudden and mysterious deaths. Surrounded by those who wish her harm and view her as a lesser being, Lil delves into a forgotten history that those in power will go to dangerous lengths to keep buried.
What neither Erik nor Lil realize is that a darkness is coming, something none have faced in living memory. It eats. It hunts. And it knows them. In The Root, the dark and surging urban fantasy debut from Na’amen Tilahun, two worlds must come together if even a remnant of one is to survive.
- There are two worlds that The Root mostly takes place in, one is our own and one is vastly different from our own. There are a whole lot more than just those two though and enemies could be coming from anywhere! It was so refreshing to discover a fantasy realm that is completely alien compared to our own and I am seriously impressed by the level of detail invested in these worlds.
- To go along with a completely alien world of course we need completely alien creatures! These are not the mythical creatures you are used to. There are no unicorns or dragons here. There are instead creatures with magic you can barely comprehend and bodies that you can barely imagine. The humanoids with tentacles coming out of their bodies are the normal ones, okay?
- While all of the different creatures have their own flavors of magic, our heroine’s magic is the kind we get the best picture of and I love it. Casting this magic has a severe cost and there seems to be a much more ancient origin than anyone suspected.
- I think I counted a total of three white characters. I am so happy to see a fantasy that features people of all skin colors. If that isn’t awesome enough, there are also an equal representation of gay characters (including the hero!) and transgender! None of this is treated as a central focus, there are just casual references to chest binding and testosterone injections while sparring. The male hero’s interest in other men is completely normal and accepted. I can’t get over how happy this makes me and how sad it is that this is such a marvel to me.
- I often have trouble connecting with male main characters, but Erik was a character I couldn’t help but fall for. He’s dealt with some difficult things in his life, but he’s come out stronger and is just trying to keep his head above water and figure out this crazy superpower thing.
- I was completely hooked by this story until about 2/3. Then I found myself getting a bit bored and wishing that we could get back to the action. Things pick up again at the end, of course, but I wish that that section had been condensed a bit.
- Despite reading a finished copy, there were still a few rather noticeable typos. Not so frequent that I didn’t enjoy the experience of reading, but more than I expect in a finished book.
The Root is a fantastic addition to the fantasy genre and exactly what I hope to see more of in the future. I will be grabbing book two the second I can get my hands on it and I will be pushing this book on everyone I can. You probably haven’t heard of The Root before this review, but please trust me that it deserves your limited attention and budget.
Have you read this one? What did you think? Are you excited for it if you haven’t gotten to it yet?
The Root by Na’amen Tilahun
© 2016, Anya. All rights reserved.