The Key of Amatahns

*Disclaimer: This post does include a synopsis of the book, but no major information is given away. And, of course, you should take my opinions with a grain of salt. I don’t pretend to be the end all, be all for YA books. This is just what I thought of the book.

I did something that I usually don’t do, but it was a special occasion. My birthday is two days after my husband’s birthday. As a special treat, we both went down to a B&N clearance sale and just went crazy! We got a box full of books plus what we could fit into a book bag. It was awesome! I strongly suggest that you go to a clearance sale sometime. It’s not a good place to find specific books, but you can easily wile away a few hours shuffling past tables covered in stacks of books, talking about books with complete strangers, grabbing a good find off the table before anyone else gets to it, and, my personal favorite, starting a new book while you wait in a check out line that wraps around the whole building.

Between both of us, we spent about $50. I’d say that over half of that was mine, but I still got a pretty good deal. For my 30 or so dollars, I got 15 new books. Out of those, there was one I’d already read and I just wanted to add to my personal library. There were five books that I’d heard about and knew I wanted to read. The remaining nine were books I’d never heard about. I don’t usually like to buy random books, but they were $1-2 dollars a piece, so I decided to take a chance on them.

The first book I picked up out of the box when I got home was The Key of Amatahns by Elisabeth Wheatley. The book’s name was the first thing that captured my attention. It seemed like an interesting story and I loved that it was written by a high school student. You don’t see that a lot.

Here’s a basic synopsis of the story: Janir is born as the heir to a kingdom that is ruled by the ruthless, bloodthirsty Argetellams. When her traveling convoy is ambushed by a group of people from  another kingdom, they almost kill her just because of her heritage. A knight takes pity on her, however, and decides to take her into his home. They manage to keep the secret for many years, but she is forced to flee to the mountains when someone finds out that she is an Argetallam.

Along the way she meets a young (and foolish) wizard who convinces her to go on a quest to find the fabled “Key of Amahtans,” which is said to have the power of an entire magical race locked inside it. Before she knows it, Janir is caught up in a quest that involves an elf, her Argetallam half-brother, and an ancient race of magical beings.

Will Janir be able to save herself and her friends with her emerging Argetallam powers? Who will end up with the key? Will the power inside of the key be unlocked? These are the questions that will be racing through your mind while you read this book.

Now, while I love Wheatley’s story, I don’t love this book. I’m sure some of my opinion comes down to a dislike of the author’s personal writing style. That can happen in any circumstance. Sometimes a writer’s writing style, or quirks, just don’t sit right with a reader. For instance, the sheer number of run-on sentences that occurred when Wheatley was describing something or the chapter/paragraph breaks. They didn’t take away from the awesome story line, but they did annoy me at times.

One of the biggest turn offs for me was the repetition that occurred throughout the book. I really don’t like it when an author shows or tells you something twenty times. I get it. I see the connection. You don’t have to spell it out for me by repeating the meaning behind something again. Also some of the descriptive words or phrases became a little repetitive.

I don’t think the pacing was ideal. This can be a rather touchy subject. I work in publishing house. I understand the importance of jumping straight into the action and getting the reader’s attention. When openings are too slow, you can lose readers. However, I’ve read a lot of manuscripts recently where I think the story could have benefited from a little more background or world building in the beginning. (Or more time in the “ordinary world,” if you will.) I think “The Key of Amatahans” could have benefited from more time spend in the “ordinary world.” After the first chapter, Janir was all grown up. On top of that, she was a completely different character in a completely different place. There are a lot of questions about Janir’s background that were left unanswered. I want to know more about Janir and her world, which is a good thing, but it did take me longer to get “the feel” of her as the main character.

The characters were relatable and well-rounded. I found myself becoming emotionally involved with them all. I even felt sympathy for the “bad” characters, which is saying a lot. It’s wonderful whenever an author can cause readers to feel something for her evil characters. Except when repetition showed up, their interactions were quite genuine.

Through all of that, I got to the end of the book. The ending was perfect! Wheatley knew how to keep her readers on the edge of their seats. Just when I thought her denouement was starting to draw out, she added a twist that left the character’s hanging in the balance.

All in all, I love the story! I’m kind of “eeh” on the book. I haven’t decided whether it has earned its place on my shelf yet. I  don’t think I’ll go to any extremes to look for the rest of the series, but I might check out the next book if I can find it at my local library.

I’d love to see if this author is still writing, because her writing style might have changed. I’m sure she’s grown in her craft since high school. I’m in no place to judge her first book, because I’m embarrassed to read my old attempts at writing. I’m just amazed at the character and world building skills that she already possessed. And she knew what she wanted! She went out there and she found someone who would publish a book written by a high school student! That fact alone might be enough to get me to check my library for more of her books. We’ll see 🙂 .

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