Publisher: Tor Publishing Group, Tor Books
Date of publication: September 19th, 2023
A wild girl with sand magic in her bones and a mad god who is trying to fix the world he broke come together in SANDYMANCER, a genre-warping mashup of weird fantasy and hard science fiction.
All Caralee Vinnet has ever known is dust. Her whole world is made up of the stuff; water is the most precious thing in the cosmos. A privileged few control what elements remain. But the world was not always a dust bowl and the green is not all lost.
Caralee has a secret—she has magic in her bones and can draw up power from the sand beneath her feet to do her bidding. But when she does she winds up summoning a the former god-king who broke the world 800 years ago and has stolen the body of her best friend.
Caralee will risk the whole world to take back what she’s lost. If her new companion doesn’t kill her first.
The day the monster stole Caralee’s future started out as a dull and shiny as any other—with children and young folk scattered around the sandy circle that served as a gathering place for the families of the nameless village.Sandymancer by David Edison
Caralee is your typical teenager living on a dying planet. But she has a secret. Her secret is that she is one of the few in her world that can control the elements. While out with her foster brother, Caralee draws too much power and sets free, the last thing she expects. Who did she set free? The god-king who broke the world over 800 years ago and who has now taken over the body of her foster brother. Caralee would do anything to get her foster brother back, including accompanying the god-king on his journey to fix the world. But there are obstacles in the way. With the help of an aging sandymancer and a sentient protector, Caralee and the god-king will travel the world to right the wrongs. Can they do it? Can the god-king and Caralee fix the world and restore her foster brother to his body? Or will everything they have gone through be for nothing?
When I read the blurb for Sandymancer, I was intrigued. I have a soft spot for fantasy books involving teenagers, reawakened gods (or kings or both), magic, and dying worlds. Based on what I read, I decided to read Sandymancer. I won’t lie and say that I liked the book, but at the same time, I won’t lie and say that I disliked it either.
The main storyline for Sandymancer revolves around Caralee, The Son (the god-king), and their journey to fix the world. It was a meandering storyline that left me with many unanswered questions. There were references to The Son’s ancestors coming from space and terraforming this planet but not where they came from (I assumed Earth). There were references to The Beasts but no explanation of how they came to be. It was frustrating because everything was left hanging. But there were some parts of the storyline that I did like. I loved the spidermoths that Caralee’s foster mother owned. I liked seeing the Jewish culture represented in the book. And I liked that the author included how The Son rose to be god-king before he was taken down. And the magic, let’s remember that. I found it fascinating.
I wouldn’t say I liked Caralee. I found her to be very annoying throughout the book. She was almost too much in parts of the book, and I wished that the author had toned her down a little. She also seemed to forget that she was the one who caused Joe to run off, and that caused him to get possessed by The Son. It was her temper tantrum that freed The Son in the first place. I did like that the author took her unlikableness and used it to thwart the Metal Duchy. But, even I got an eye twitch when reading her interactions with Elinor.
The Son started as an exciting character that morphed into one that bored me. He gave long-winded speeches about magic and physics. I also found it funny that he thought he was god’s gift to people and expected people to fawn all over him. His family fascinated me, and I liked that the author took the time to explain his backstory. What he had to do was heartbreaking. Did he want to do it? No. Did he have to? Yes.
I liked the fantasy angle of Sandymancer, but I wished the author had explained more about The Son’s magic or even Caralee’s. I also wish the author had explained more about the critters and people that lived on Caralee’s planet.
The end of Sandymancer was left up in the air. None of the storylines (except for The Son’s backstory) ended. I was left with more questions than answers about what the heck happened.
I would recommend Sandymancer to anyone over 16. There is mild language, violence, and sexual situations.
Many thanks to Tor Publishing Group, Tor Books, NetGalley, and David Edison for allowing me to read and review Sandymancer. All opinions stated in this review are mine.
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