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Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Book Review: Reflection: The Stranger in the Mirror (Records of the Ohanzee, #1) by Rachel R. Smith

My Rating: 
Reflection: The Stranger in the Mirror (Records of the Ohanzee, #1)
Author: Rachel R. Smith
Pages: 265
Release date: May 9th 2015
An Heiress, an ancient prophecy, and a masquerade...
Nerissa, the Heiress of Chiyo, prepares for the masquerade celebrating the twentieth anniversary of a thwarted assassination attempt on her family. Longing to be admired for herself and not her title, she arranges to switch costumes and enjoy the ball in blissful anonymity. But, when the fateful night finally comes, a prophetic warning of a second attack arrives too late, and the evening turns from revelry and romance to violence. After being pulled from the chaos by an enigmatic guardian, Nerissa learns that the Royal Family has been concealing a formidable secret for generations--and it is only one of many that are about to be revealed.

Reflection: The Stranger in the Mirror is Book 1 of 4 in the Records of the Ohanzee series, which is written in a serialized style with a story line that flows continuously between books.

My Review:

I received a ARC from the author via Netgalley to read and review in return.

When I read the synopsis of the book I knew two things straight away; this book is going to more complex than the usual Young Adult book I've read; and second, it's going to be an interesting and unique read! Well both of them were correct, however despite these positive facts, I found myself lingering on some of the pages a little too long due to the story's intricacy and rather often mild pace. 

It took me a while to get into this book. Rachel R. Smith writes beautifully but also quite 'technical', when referring to the abundance of names and cities the reader will have to remember in order to keep up with the story. The writing style is meticulous and elaborate, as Ms. Smith has no problem carefully and intricately describing almost every mood, look or ambiance of a scene or a character.

Reflection starts off with getting to know the Heiress of Chiyo named Narissa. Nerissa is a big book lover, who has a passion for adventure and is fascinated with crystals. In fact, the world in which Nerissa lives in is known to have special crystals which harness significant powers and symbolics. This is not taken serious by all of the inhabitants of Chiyo, but when almost each and every crystal abruptly smashes apart for 'no reason', Nerissa can't help but think this may be some kind of omen. Nonetheless, Nerissa prepares for the annual masquerade ball, a gala to celebrate Chiyo's liberalism and independency. This time she wants to experience the ball slightly different, and decides to get a second dress and mask made to grant het the rare opportunity to roam around freely as a 'stranger', and meet people who will normally act differently around her as the future ruler of Chiyo. Everything seems to be going according to plan, until the attack hits the Kingdom of Chiyo, and everything and everyone dearest to Nerissa is taken away... 

In this enticing story we find out what happens to Nerissa after this dreadful attack to her home, when she is kept safe in a secret city, hiding from the enemy. 

Nerissa is a warm and enthusiastic character. She is somewhat naive, which seems believable being a princess who grew up cooped up safely in her peaceful home with personal guards and special conveniences, but when all things turn into ashes, Narissa really surprised me. She became more powerful and assertive, despite the traumatic events, and is entirely prepared to fight back and fully admit the possible consequences. Her companions are interesting and some even comical, but due to the vast amount of characters included, it was sometimes hard to follow who was who. This created a tiny disconnect between me and the other characters (and sometimes the story), but the more I got the hang of the character's names and their accompanying role, the more it all seemed to create an impact on me.

As you may have gotten the hint by now, the writing style is a little bit more elaborate than I normally would prefer or seek for when choosing a (YA) book. This might have been the reason why it took me a little longer to get into the story and eventually finish the book. Ms. Smith cleverly constructed a list of names of all the characters which appear in this book. Unfortunately I only discovered this list as I was nearing to the end of the book, but the list may definitely come in handy when needing a quick refreshment course on who is who. 

The story leaves you hanging in the end, knowing a sequel is to come and I have a feeling the sequel will be brimming full of adventure and action.