Book Review: ‘The Golden Specific’ by S.E. Grove

Posted: 7 August 2017 in Book reviews
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Sophia, her uncle Shadrack, and Theo are safely back home after saving the world, but no closer to finding Sophia’s parents. So Shadrack begins teaching her the tricks of his trade, the making and reading of various kinds of maps. Leads would come and explorers would be sent out, but only one resulted in anything useful.

Then Sophia receives an anonymous tip leading her to the Nihilismian Archive. She is looking for a needle in a haystack and only has a few days to find it. She discovers what she is looking for only to learn it is housed in the Papal States. She is excited to find a solid lead, but is disappointed when Shadrack suggests someone else go retrieve the material. She is determined to get it personally, so she talks with Theo and he agrees to go with her.

Things take a turn when Sophia falls asleep on the boat waiting for Theo and it sets sail without him. She is unaware that Shadrack and Miles have been framed for murder. Theo is now under house arrest with Mrs. Clay. He knows who really did it, but proving it isn’t going to be easy. Together with the detective’s daughter and a street urchin, Theo crosses into enemy territory in search of clues to free his friends.

Across the ocean, the Papal States are tormented by a mysterious plague; a plague where seeing phantoms and losing the will to live have brought death to many. Sophia is accused with having the plague and is only able to escape Sevilla, and find her way to the mysterious Ausentinia, by the help of three random companions. Together, they brave the dangers of the Papal States and venture into the deadly Dark Age.

The path to discover the fate of Sophia’s parents lies directly before her. To follow it may give her answers, or it may end in her death. In New Occident, a wicked politician has set in motion a series of events that may be too much for even Theo to stop. If he cannot, there will be disastrous consequences.

My Thoughts

I thoroughly enjoyed this book. The story is so fascinating. It was very hard to put down. I enjoyed accompanying Sophia on her journey. I really liked how it isn’t a huge fantasy story like ones I usually read. It isn’t filled with magic and battles. The fantasy is more subtle. You see glimpses of it, but it isn’t overwhelming. Absolutely wonderful.

So for this book, Shadrack takes a backseat leaving Sophia and Theo as the main characters. Both of them have definitely grown since the events of the first book. I like that both of them are unwilling to let their fears keep them from pursuing their goals. Whether it is Sophia alone on a journey across an ocean, or Theo confronting a terrifying figure from his past, neither back down. They have new priorities now. They have more to consider. Theo more so than Sophia. I really love Sophia’s determination. She wants to find her parent’s and she isn’t going to let anyone else do what she knows she can do herself. I also really like that Theo has accepted his place in their little family. He has something to fight for now and it shows.

We are also introduced to a few new secondary characters in this book. The most fascinating one is Goldenrod. She is a mysterious character with a complex background. And she can produce flowers from her hands. She is one reason I love this series. For a world that has splintered, we see so many beings that shouldn’t exist in our rational timeline. Because of this, it makes me wonder if it wasn’t just Sophia’s timeline that fractured and maybe every alternate reality as well. Then there is Errol Forsyth. He is a hunter that Sophia meets in Sevilla. He is almost the exact opposite of Sophia. He is mistrustful of things that are different. He feels tormented by his phantom rather than comforted, like Sophia. But he is very noble. He is also willing to follow and learn. He is slow to trust, but once he does he is very loyal. Then there is the villain Gordon Broadgirdle. You can almost sum up certain politicians into this one character. He is wickedly clever, enigmatic, magnetic, devious, willing to use others regardless of what happens to them, and more. And he has an even worse background that only Theo knows about. He really does remind you of what most politicians really are. He is very well created.

In all, the book is written very well. There is so much wonderful description. It is obvious that a lot of work went into world-building. I loved all the bits of insight given into the backgrounds of each era (whether real or imaginary) we are introduced to. They are all so beautifully different and well thought out. I really liked the twist on the Dark Age. Really, really well done.

This is an excellent continuation of a well crafted story. It is filled with so much imagination and heart. I loved it. I cannot wait to read the final book!!! I definitely recommend this series! Two thumbs up. Enjoy 😉

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