“She looked back toward Abascar’s palace, that point of darkness in the woods, like the pin in the center of the spinning world. She held up the feather, and its color, vivid in contrast, seemed to bleed into the air, igniting the surrounding green gold, red, and blue in a violent conflagration. . . . The tail feather lay burning but whole in her hand. The Expanse lay before her.
“Abascar waited, blind.”
For years, all the colours in House Abascar have been locked away in the Underkeep, for only the royal family can wear colours or decorate with them. The Housefolk resent the loss of colour, but are mostly content waiting for their return, which was promised by the king. The arrival of Auralia changes everything. A foundling like no one else, she roams freely in the forest, gathering up the colours of her environment and weaving them into gifts for the Gatherers, the exiles among whom she lives. As she matures, Auralia weaves her masterpiece, the “colours” of the novel’s title, yet one shade seems to always be missing. When she finally finds the final colour, she intends the cloak she created as a gift to the people of House Abascar, yet its revelation only serves to land her in Abascar’s dungeons. Though the king thinks Auralia’s incarceration has ended the threat he feels she poses, she has, in reality, inspired and added fuel to change that will rock Abascar to its very core. From her Gatherer friends to Prince Cal-Raven, who has fallen for her, and from the grudgers who resent the rule of King Cal-Marcus to the king himself, who is slowly sliding into senility, the colours leave no one untouched and unchanged. Yet as cursed beastmen close in on Abascar and the grudgers grow in discontent, no one can imagine how Auralia’s colours will change Abascar. Forever.
Auralia’s Colors is really a novel that defies summary. The many plots and subplots that weave through the novel serve to give the reader a feeling of the story, rather than a clear picture. Some books can be compared to the Northern Lights, while others are like a crystal clear stream winding through a serene forest. Auralia is very much like the wild beauty of the Northern Lights, which cannot be pinned down or fully understood, merely reveled in. It is a story of essence, of poetry in prose. As a reader, this is the kind of book that speaks to me. I can lose myself totally in Auralia, I can feel it, sense it, live it. This, to me, is what makes a good book, a book that I will come back to over and over and over again.
As a writer, I often find elements in books that make me cringe, whether they are characterization, writing style, or some other element, yet I honestly come across nothing of that nature in Auralia’s Colors. Perhaps I was too immersed in the beauty to see the flaws. There are two areas, however, which stick out to me as being the strengths of the book: characterization and worldbuilding. Overstreet builds a cast of distinctive characters. Each character is the hero of his own story, which is a mark of exceptional writing. Each one is fully fleshed out and obviously has a history of their own. Their actions, reactions, and emotions are constantly plausible and understandable. As the icing on the cake, many are surrounded by an aura of mystery, keeping the reader riveted and wanting to know more. Overstreet’s worldbuilding is also exceptional. Though he has created many unique creatures, such as vawns, viscorcats, beastmen, and the Keeper, they are never shoved into the reader’s face. The details and descriptions are artfully woven into the narrative, so that the reader never even realizes that they are being told to him.
I will admit, though reluctantly, that Auralia’s Colors is probably not a novel for everyone. If you like to understand exactly what is going on at all times, you will probably find it frustrating. If, however, you love poetry in prose and feeling a story, then this is the book for you. Read it once. Better yet, read it twice; the experience only broadens. Immerse yourself in the tapestry. You too will be enchanted by the colours.
Published on 27 July, 2014. Last updated on