Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Reader's Review: "Cadeau, Volume 1: Who Can You Trust?" by Connie Olvera


Synopsis from Amazon:
  
A millennium has passed since humans arrived to colonize the planet Cadeau only to find several indigenous species with higher intellect and psionic abilities peacefully cohabiting on the world. Fighting soon broke out over land and resources across the continent of Mardeaux.

An ancient telepathic people from another dimension brought peace once again when they developed a symbiotic relationship with the alien humans. This cooperation between the species had lasted hundreds of years, however, bigoted human factions now seek to profit by eliminating all who stand in their way. The tenacious young duchess, Naomi, is trying to save her territory and the species that live there from these partisan forces.

Raised as a sagoron prince, behind the guardian border, Tobin’s life as a half-breed—or graftling as the sagoron children taunted him—was lost and friendless. At the age of fifteen he ventures beyond the protection of the sagoron’s forest, out of a hunger to know his human mother who abandoned him. His search breaks the carefully erected barrier between the sagoron and human realms, and leads him to join the divergent group of resistance fighters supporting Naomi. 
 
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My Review:

What was the last book you read that made you think, "Oh yeah—this is definitely a book that's going to be around for generations!"
Cadeau definitely filled that role for me. It was a rocky start at first—the blurb didn't seem to match the story I was reading for about the first seven chapters, and there were so many questions I couldn't find the answers to—

But I kept reading, and boy, am I glad I did! The more I read, the more I understood. Cadeau unfolded wider and wider as this rich and vibrant world that arriving humans had only begun to probe. It was a world of kingdoms and duchies, with political unrest and Marquises jockeying for power, while the humanoid race on Cadeau, the sagorons, demonstrated incredible feats of supernatural power which they were now forced to employ against the invaders, to protect the land they had regarded as their home. Not only that, but it falls to some humans and sagorons to receive telepathic abilities, which both increases the potential for peace and also makes it all the more difficult to know whom to trust, as those most skilled in reading the minds of others are equally adept at hiding their own thoughts.
A half-blood sagoron prince and a young noblewoman both seek peace between their species, but he is the son of the sagoron leader who would just as soon have nothing to do with the humans, and she is the daughter of a cruel and vicious Lord who seeks to corrupt and destroy all who hinder him in his push for more power. A savage betrayal thrusts them together, and—along with the Duke's daughter, exiled and forced on the run from a murderous enemy—they must trust each other, and learn how to discern the truth in a vast sea of lies.

I loved all of it. Even the first bit that left me confused—after finishing the book, I went back and re-read the beginning, and the new understanding I had gained really helped! (So if you start reading it and get very confused... don't worry! Just keep reading till you get it, and then you can go back and read the beginning part again) 
The pacing is carefully constructed—while not completely perfect (the feeling of "jumping around" does take some getting used to) in the end it's worth it, to see the story that unfolds, to follow the characters and see their storylines intersect in exciting ways.
The wealth of new species impressed me the most: the Ancients, with actual musical notes representing their names in the text, the sagorons and their "powers" of Ker'ah, which is to literally pray and cause a thing to happen; the mysterious, aggressive Ren and their connection to much more of the history of Cadeau than anyone realizes... and those are just the non-human sentient races! Many more creatures leap from the pages in full, breathtaking detail, drawing the reader in, immersing them in this creative new world.

That being said, I would give CADEAU a *****4.5 STAR***** rating—with the stipulation that pretty much the only thing keeping it from a solid 5 stars is the fact that the story is not quite as fluid as it could be. Perhaps it is just the nature of a world existing in two dimensions that run on different timetables, or perhaps it is something that could be amended with a few minor tweaks—but be that as it may, I still loved it very much and I would add an Upstream Writer Certified WHOLEHEARTEDLY RECOMMENDED endorsement. If you love creative fantasy worlds, strong moral principles, engaging characters and a story worth reading over and over again, CADEAU is definitely the book for you—and I might add that it's only the beginning of an epic series! I can't wait to see more amazingness in the books to come!
 
Further Reading (Amazing Fantasy or Sci-fi/Marvelous Characters/Excellent Worldbuidling)
 
The Vemreaux Trilogy--Mary E. Twomey
       -The Way
       -The Truth
       -The Lie  
The Alexander Legacy--Sophronia Belle Lyon
       -A Dodge, A Twist, and A Tobacconist
       -The Pinocchio Factor
The Chronicles of Lorrek--Kelly Blanchard
        -Someday I'll Be Redeemed
        -I Still Have A Soul 
 Lord of the Wyrde Woods--Nils Visser
     -Escape From Neverland
     -Dance Into The Wyrd
The Portal Prophecies--C. A. King
     -A Keeper's Destiny
     -A Halloween's Curse