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Review: ‘The Labyrinth Wall’ by Emilyann Girdner

September 17, 2014

Summary: Araina’s isolated teenage life is forever altered when she witnesses a man emerge through a rippling wall into the dark labyrinth she calls home. A Mahk, Araina has never been outside the labyrinth, and has never seen anyone inside it but other Mahks. When the stranger appears, Araina’s world is turned upside down. Working with a dangerous fellow Mahk named Darith, Araina rescues the strange man and escapes with him back into the labyrinth.

But as a result of the stranger’s arrival, Araina’s Creators have unleashed a series of magical attacks using the labyrinth against its inhabitants. Grappling with new revelations, saber toothed mutts, insane creatures, and cannibals as she tries to make her escape from her home, Araina must decide if she will trust potentially deceitful allies in order to reach safety on the other side of the labyrinth wall.

My Thoughts: I found this book interesting, but only so-so. It was written fairly well, and I like the plot and characters overall, but there were also some problem spots for me.

Trapped inside a labyrinth, which is the only home she’s ever known, Araina is a Mahk, or a created human. Grown and given life by the Creators who rule the labyrinth, Araina has only been alive for two years. In that time, she tried to stay alive and stay away from the other Mahk, who might kill or hurt her to steal her food rations. She keeps a pet bird, Blue, and mostly tries to stay in the secluded area where Blue likes to live. A kinder, gentler soul than her fellow Mahk, Araina is very much out of place in her kill-or-be-killed kind of world. Araina is a great main character. There are plenty of conflicts for her to experience, and she does grow over the course of the novel into a more complex character. She mostly just wants to be left alone and to live in a better place.

Darith, her companion at the start of the book, appears to be exactly like the rest of the Mahk: dangerous, deadly, and focused on survival. He joins Araina for part of her quest in saving Korun and then escaping the labyrinth. He then disappears for most of the story and reappears later, but I can’t say more than that without giving away spoilers. My main issue with Darith is, he’s the only one of the Mahk to speak with any kind of accent. Why? In the course of the story, the reader is introduced to numerous other Mahk and other people. But Darith is the only one to speak in a different fashion, and it’s not entirely consistent at that. Why? This actually really annoyed me, but I realize that with my linguistics background, this is something that be an issue for me but may not be an issue for other people. Otherwise, I think he was a good character and I would have liked to have seen more of him.

Some of the relationships seem rather contrived to me. For instance, the relationship between Soll and Saige seems to be there expressly for the purpose of getting Araina to realize that romance among the Mahk is possible. I never buy this relationship as being legit, nor am I invested in it. The relationships that seem to work best, in my view, are Araina’s relationships with Korun and Blue. However, the relationship with Korun at times seems forced. And there was one spot near the end where there is no mention of Blue and I was left very much confused at to what had happened and where Blue was, since Araina was completely unconcerned about the status of her pet, which seems very out of character. Araina’s relationship with Darith is much more interesting because they’re so antagonistic toward each other for so long, but again, he only appears for a small segment of the book. Perhaps their relationship will be developed some more in the next installment.

I was at times not a fan of the writing style, but that is largely a personal preference, and other readers may not mind as much. For me, there was instances when I thought the writing could have been tighter, or I would have appreciated further description of something when there was none. There was also one point at which Araina goes swimming and says swimming is a new experience for her–but she knows how to swim without ever having done it before. It’s explained that the Mahk are created with certain knowledge, but the way this scene was written was very confusing to me and illogical for a while. Even though this gets explained, I feel a reader should never be left with the feeling that something is illogical or out of place.

As for the plot, I have nothing negative to say about it. I thought the plot was very well done and set out a logical, suspenseful fashion. There was a point when I worried that some items in the beginning of the book had been forgotten or wouldn’t be wrapped up, but everything came to a fairly satisfying conclusion. I thought some of the enemies Araina faces were very creative and thoroughly terrifying, though the saber tooth dogs/mutts reminded me a little too strongly of the mutts from The Hunger Games, though that may just be because of word choice.

If you’re looking for a book with suspense, betrayal, action, and a Hunger Games kind of feel to it, this may be a good read for you.

Overall, I give it 3 stars. I just can’t get past the writing style and some of the flaws in relationships and descriptions. I may pick up the next book just to find out what happens, but I’m not sure how much re-readability this one has for me.

3 stars: Still a pretty good read, but I can set it aside if I need to for things like school, eating, sleeping, etc.

Find on Amazon * Author Info * GoodReads * Shelfari

Book info: published 2013, 308 pages, ASIN B00HMFAESO

Copy is a free ebook copy from author in exchange for an honest review.

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