Friday, May 4, 2012

Review: Silence

Silence (Queen Of The Dead - Book 1) by Michelle Sagara

Publication Date: May 1, 2012
Publisher: Penguin USA
Genre:YA Paranormal Suspense
Pages: Hardcover, 256pp.
ISBN-13: 978-0756407421
ISBN: 0756407427

(Received for an honest review from DAW)

Michelle Sagara on the WEB: Webpage, Blog, Twitter, Facebook

Excerpt from Silence


Ever since her boyfriend Nathan had died in a tragic accident, Emma had been coming to the graveyard at night. During the day she went through the motions at her prep school, in class, with her friends, but that's all it was. For Emma, life had stopped with Nathan's death. But tonight was different. Tonight Emma and her dog were not alone in the cemetery. There were two others there - Eric, who had just started at her school, and an ancient woman who looked as though she were made of rags. and when they saw Emma there, the old woman reached out to her with a grip as chilling as death...

Emma was not quite like other teenagers. It was true that other girls had experienced grief. Other girls had also lost their fathers or had their boyfriends die in a senseless accident. But though she hadn't known it till that night in the graveyard, unlike those other girls, she could see, touch, and speak with the dead. In fact, Emma could draw upon the essence of the dead to work magic. That was what Necromancers did. But Emma had no desire to be a Necromancer. She just wanted to help the ghosts who walked the streets of Toronto, unable to escape from the land of the living. And that was just as well, because had she chosen the path of the Necromancer, Eric would have had to kill her. 

Instead Eric, and his fellow Necromancer hunter Chase found themselves violating every rule they were sworn to follow, becoming part of Emma's group,  helping her stand against those who preyed upon the dead. But whether Emma and her friends could survive such a battle was anyone's guess. And whether Emma could learn to use the magic of the dead against her enemies without herself falling victim to the lure of such power remained to be seen. Eric seemed to think she could, and her living friends would never abandon her. But only time would tell what Emma's true destiny was...


Michelle Sagara's debut YA novel is anything but typical. Silence is the first book in the Queen of the Dead series and Sagara clearly has a hit on her hands. She uses the Necromancer mythology in an original and fresh way that is uncommon in my reading experience. Sagara's characters are extremely realistic and well drawn. This is a very atmospheric novel that gives off that eerie vibe that makes the hair on your neck stand up. It is chilling, yet full of underlying wisdom. This is a coming of age tale of a young girl in a paranormal world.

Ever wonder why so many YA novels are being turned into movies? It's obvious that books like the Hunger Games and the Twilight series appeal to young readers and movie goers. YA authors have a knack for vivid imagery that translates well from book to the big screen. Silence by Michelle Sagara has that same kind of feel to it. The reader is able to visualize what's happening in each scene as if it is happening right before their eyes. That an author trait that is hard to find and Sagara obviously has it. 

Sagara doesn't use the typical YA patterns in her writing, though. She treats her readers honestly and doesn't expect because this is considered a YA novel that she has to talk down or condescend to them. She realizes the intelligence of her readers and understands that YA reading it's just for Young Adults anymore. Many adults have taken to reading YA lit because of it's vibrancy and the fact that YA writers are writing some of the best fiction being released right now. I've not always been a fan of YA but my perceptions are changing, slowly but surely because of good writing and very well drawn characters. Silence was certainly a step in the right direction for me as a reader. If they were all written like this one I'd be reading a lot more YA. 

Emma, the protagonist in Silence is a young girl who has had a lot of tragedy in her life. It makes sense that she would have an affinity for the dead. I liked the fact that Sagara showed that Emma was different from other girls in a lot of ways, but she still had the same concerns and situations that everyone else was facing. School, friendships, and family. Emma stands out as a very realistic character. When she is touched by an ancient woman in the graveyard, Emma becomes something more. She is basically a Necromancer, able to see and touch the dead as well as draw upon their essences to use magic. But she doesn't want to do that. She only wants to help. It's a great premise and the Necromancer mythology that Sagara employs is extremely well written. Emma's world is imaginative and vivid.

Sagara also shows a lot of depth in choosing to have an autistic character in the book as well.  Michael is just one of those characters that readers will be drawn to. The way he looks at the world is so simplistic and real that readers can't help but fall in love with him. Sagara writes Micheal with a depth beyond his years and allows him not to be a target in school, but a loyal friend and confidant for Emma and her other friends. He was a great addition to the story and helped move the plot in numerous ways. 

This is the first in a series and certainly needs no grace as Sagara has written an engaging first book. Sagara wraps up a lot of questions at the end of the book, but leaves several more for future explanation. Writers can write a series in several ways. They can make each novel self-contained and easy to read as a stand alone or they can choose to carry a story arc over several novels. Those are the kind that I like best. Don't tell me everything all at once, let the information trickle in and I'm a whole lot more likely to read the next book in the series. Sagara pulls this off well and sets up the series with flying colors, can't wait to see what happens next!

Silence is available NOW from your favorite bookseller.

I'm giving this one 5 out of 5 apples from my book bag!

Michelle writes as both Michelle Sagara and Michelle West; she is also published as Michelle Sagara West (although the Sundered books were orig­i­nally published under the name Michelle Sagara).

She lives in Toronto with her long-suffering husband and her two children, and to her regret has no dogs.
Reading is one of her life-long passions, and she is some­times paid for her opinions about what she’s read by the venerable Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction. No matter how many book­shelves she buys, there is Never Enough Shelf space.

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