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The Reader: Sea of Ink and Gold #1    by Traci Chee order for
by Traci Chee
Order:  USA  Can
Putnam, 2016 (2016)
Hardcover, e-Book
* *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

There are stories within stories in Traci Chee's The Reader, first in her YA fantasy series, Sea of Ink and Gold. Reading in Kelanna, 'a wonderful and terrible world of water and ships and magic', is almost unknown as are books. But there is a rare tale of one book, key to a great and powerful magic - and many seek it.

Young heroine Sefia has been on the run with her aunt Nin for six years, ever since the brutal slaughter of her beloved father (her mother had already died before that happened). When Sefia fled the scene, she took with her a treasure that her father had hidden - an ancient book. Sefia and Nin do what they must to survive - they steal and they hide from the redcoats. For a couple of years they have also heard news of Impressors, kidnapping boys and turning them into killers.

As the story opens, Nin is taken by a group led by a woman in black. Sefia is determined to find her and, as she travels, starts trying to make sense of the book she has long carried. When she comes upon Impressors with a caged boy, she rescues him and names him Archer. He journeys with her, sharing many perilous adventures. As all this transpires, readers are given glimpses into a place called the Library and young folk who are apprenticed there as Librarian and Assassin.

Gradually, Sefia learns that the book holds people's futures, and she develops magical abilities, while Archer is already a highly talented, though reluctant, fighter. And eventually, their paths cross with that of those who seek them - and Sefia's book. Though at times over-complicated and hard to follow, The Reader is quite a story, and sure to garner a fan following.

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