Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Review: Albino

Albino by E.J. Dabel

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Book Info: Genre: Fantasy Reading Level: Middle Grade

Disclosure: I received a free ebook ARC eGalley from Sea Lion Books (the publisher) in exchange for an honest review.

Synopsis: The white mouse Albino always believed that he would live with the old farmer William Springer forever, eating Cheddar cheese and enjoying life at the farm. But after he is kidnapped by the street urchin Darl and violently thrown into a raging river to drown, he wakes up in the middle of a strange and mysterious forest and his life is changed forever as he finds himself in a world unlike anything he could ever imagine.

Aided by an odd crow, he begins an adventure filled with action, danger, and ultimately a final confrontation against his worst nightmares. 

The ancient and cruel rats called the Ma’aldee are on the move, the Spiritual Guardians of the Land whisper in fear and dread of the coming of Emperor Loucura, Lord of the Ma'aldee.

Only Albino has the power to save the Land.

My Thoughts: I loved Dabel’s debut book, Pantheons and have been looking forward to reading this one ever since I first heard of it.

This is an ARC, so I’m not surprised there are a number of errors in the text, which I will assume were mostly fixed in the final copy. The story flows smoothly and the characters are all unique and given individual voices that are easy to differentiate.

Albino is apparently a very special mouse, since he’s at least 50 years old, and the average mouse’s lifespan is 2-3 years. When I raised rats, I sure would have loved to have had some of my favorite rats live that long! I’d love for my cats to live that long! I guess Dabel is going for a sort of anthropomorphized version of animal life that lives even longer than humans in this book, since Albino seems quite naïve. Albino is what we call a REW – red-eyed white – mouse. Their eyes can also be pink or burgundy, although the burgundy shade is more common in fawn or beige-colored rodents.

Darl is a nasty little kid – I’m just not fond of people who don’t like animals. It seems to me that people who don’t like animals lack some certain basic level of empathy. It’s no secret that many serial killers start out by torturing animals. I was glad he only appeared briefly in the beginning of the book – with luck, we won’t have to deal with him again.

The book ends on a cliffhanger, with many strands winding together to create a highly complex plot. I think younger readers might have some trouble with this book – probably 12-13 would be the youngest that would be able to keep track of all this easily. I’m interested to see where this story will go – I’m not certain how many books Dabel plans for this series, but as complex as the story is, I imagine there will be several.

This is a satisfying fantasy for those who enjoy a more complex plot. There are a lot of characters to keep straight, so I think a dramatis personae would be very useful. I’ve tried to add as many as I could to Shelfari as I went through the book, so hopefully that will help future readers who use that site. If you enjoy complex fantasy stories, especially those utilizing animal characters, you should check out Albino.

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