3 out of 4 stars
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Seven of I: The Keeper of the Words is the debut novel of Valerie Ryan, released just this past December by independent publishing house Black Rose Writing. Full of angels and demons, marauding pirates, an (attempted) murder mystery, and a world-changing Prophesy, The Keeper of the Words does not disappoint and will keep readers begging for more from Valerie Ryan.
Syntyche (think about a sinning tick with a key) just wants to be a normal girl in a post-apocalyptic world. This is harder than it seems when you can see guardian angels, your (adopted) father is definitely hiding something, your childhood friends are possibly possessed by evil, and a crazy man in a train station (that you may or may not have ever been to) tells you that it is your job to write everything down, keeping the words for the future. Without quite meaning to, Syntyche finds herself at the center of a group of remarkable individuals who have been drawn together from around the world for one purpose: to complete the prophecy.
After their world had been nearly destroyed by war and biblical style judgments from The Maker, a prophecy was given that someday, humans would be able to close the gates of Hell and live at peace. However, the time was not right and the prophecy was deemed too dangerous if it should fall into evil plans, so it was split into seven parts and given to seven individuals who would go their separate ways in the world and never reveal what they had learned to any but one person in a generation.
Syntyche’s adopted father, Parks, is a good man, albeit a mysterious one. He has dedicated his life to doing what is right and he has created a haven outside of government interference for outcasts, river rats, orphans, and escaped slaves in the Village. When he learns about Sara, a slave who helped save some friends of his from marauders, he decides to take her in, not knowing that this act would start a chain-reaction with far-reaching consequences. Sara’s arrival, along with caretaker Devout nun Catherine, is the final piece of the puzzle and all of the players of prophecy are in the same place at the same time for the first time in centuries. With the help of the angels, the seven must figure out the meaning of the prophecy and which actions to take before evil can stop them. The fate of mankind rests on the shoulders of a Pirate King, a healer, a nun, a woman who speaks to animals, a priest, an old gypsy woman, an escaped gladiator slave, and a young girl who can talk to angels. What could possibly go wrong?
The setting of Keeper is vaguely steam punk, but not fully fleshed out. With so many characters and plotlines to weave together, setting takes the backseat. Keeper takes place in the future, following an apocalyptic Noah’s Ark type extinction event decimating the planet as a judgment from God for humanity’s wickedness and betrayal of the angels sent to guide them. Most of the world’s population was destroyed through this and the following warfare and while some technology still exists, much of the world seems to run on steam engines, with horse (or dog) drawn carriages and masted sailing ships as alternate forms of transportation.
A number of characters in The Keeper of the Words have magical abilities, given to them by the angels to help them defeat evil. These gifts include talking to animals, sensing and predicting other people’s needs, projecting emotions and visions to others, and traveling to the thirds sphere of the angels. This last power belongs to the protagonist, Syntyche, who can not only see and communicate with angels, but can travel through the third sphere which leads to her having some very unwanted adventures, including a brief trip to Hell which she absolutely cannot tell her Dad about.
I wanted to give The Keeper of the Words four stars, but the editing was not stellar and there were quite a few typos, including one use of the phrase “Guardian Angles.” Honestly, this was more amusing than annoying and I can sympathize with the author missing one after writing angels however many hundreds of times it must appear throughout the novel. There were other typos, grammatical errors, and missing punctuation, but it didn’t bother me as much as it would have in another book. The fact that the novel is written as though it were a young girl recording the unfolding of the prophecy made it easier for me to overlook them and move on.
I have given Valerie Ryan’s Seven of I: The Keeper of the Words three out of four stars. It is a brilliant and beautiful first novel, sure to keep you riveted until the last page and eagerly awaiting the next installment of the series. Fantasy fans will love this story, riding the wave of hit shows like Supernatural, Dominion, and Lucifer. Anyone with a penchant for steam punk pirates, post-apocalyptic heroines, and good triumphing over evil will want to keep a close eye on Valerie Ryan and check out Seven of I: The Keeper of the Words for themselves.
Seven of I: The Keeper of the Words
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