Qin Shi Huangdi, the first emperor of China, could have been a hero for bringing peace to his country. Instead he chose to enslave many of his people to create grandiose projects, such as The Great Wall, pandering to his own ego. Fortunately, his force for evil is opposed by a group called The Dragon’s Spite, a group intent on seeing him overthrown. In order to face each other, each side must gather those with the power of the elements to fight on their side. The Dragon’s Spite’s best hope is three young women who might use their supernatural powers to fight for good – but only if the emperor doesn’t get to them first.
Although I was excited about the unusual choice to set a fantasy book in ancient China, it took me a little while to get into The Elementals. The plot is fairly complicated and we meet at least six different characters in the first seven chapters. As you might imagine, this made it hard to get to know everyone. The writing and dialogue were also a tiny bit stiff and the occasional odd word usage distracted me from the story. However,I was quickly involved enough in the story that all that changed. As we got to know the characters, the plot stopped being hard to get into and became enjoyably complex (far too fun for slightly unpolished writing to distract me!). I loved the way each of the characters stories connected to each other and when separate, the different plots lines meant something exciting was always happening.
The setting also turned out to be as appealing as I had hoped. I love when author’s merge historical figures and events with a complementary fantasy world and this author did a great job. The glossary including pronunciations of names was a nice touch and made it easier to get into the foreign setting. By the grand, climatic ending of this action-packed adventure, I couldn’t put the book down. Fortunately, the author left room for a sequel, but wrapped up the plot of this book enough to give a satisfying sense of closure. Hopefully the next book well receive slightly better editing, because I know I’m going to pick up the sequel to this impressive debut novel.This review first published at Doing Dewey.