Red Leaves and the Living Token by Benjamin David Burrell
Published April 5th, 2012 by the author
Cover and synopsis from the Goodreads book page
This book can be purchased at: B&N and Amazon (Please note: On B&N and Amazon this book is available in three parts, the ebook I am reviewing is all 3 parts)
Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book from the author in exchange for an honest review and participation in this blog tour. No other compensation was received other than the book and a positive review was not promised.
Synopsis: Doctors tell Raj that his son Emret won’t survive his illness. As Raj struggles to prepare himself and Emret for the inevitable, he’s confronted by Moslin, his son’s nurse, who’s been filling Emret’s head with fairytales about heroic quests and powerful disease curing miracles. Emret now thinks that all he has to do is find the mythical Red Tree from the nurse’s stories, and he’ll live.
In an attempt to protect his son from further emotional damage, Raj asks Moslin to stay away from Emret. He returns hours later to find them both missing.
He searches the fairytales for clues to where they may have gone and stumbles upon stories that, strangely, he already knows. He saw them in a vision just before his son disappeared.
Review: The description of this book says everything that you need to know as a reader. I couldn’t possibly add to it, so I won’t try. Emret is a sick little boy and most likely going to die. In a desperate attempt to get a miracle, he goes on the run with his nurse and without his father’s knowledge. Raj is frantic to find his son missing and follows them but finds himself on a much more complicated journey than he first expected. I really enjoyed this book, it intrigued me and kept me entertained at every page. With that said, I must point out a few things that prevented this from being a five-star review.
There is some editing issues with this book. As far as I am aware, I received a final copy of this book, but it could use another read through from an editing perspective. There is nothing too egregious but the minor problems were so frequent that I have to comment on it. For example, on nearly every page I could find things such as: “I’m am” or sentences that seemed to be missing words or had a plural form of the word when the sentence called for singular. Ultimately, the editing issues weren’t bad enough to affect my enjoyment of the story but it was impossible not to notice.
My only other complaint would be that I felt as if not very much was explained to me. It wasn’t explained very well what the Token is, or why it’s important. You get a vague sense of why it matters, but the full story is a mystery. It’s also not clear exactly why everyone wants the Token, other than to find the Red…but we don’t really know why they are all that vital either. What does Emret’s illness mean? What is “losing his binding”? What’s a binding, why does it get lost? I don’t know any of those things either, and I wanted to. I still enjoyed the story immensely, but I would have preferred getting a more complete history and explanation of a few things.
But enough with the minor issues this book had, because the rest was simply fabulous. I loved the story! Emret was such a great character and was very relatable and likeable. He believes in miracles and is determined to find his miracle. No matter how many times he ended up being disappointed and Moslin lost faith, he never did. I liked that about him and I found myself rooting for him to find his cure because he worked more than hard enough to get it. Raj was also a really likeable characters. He’s not a perfect man but he’s trying to be the best father he can be for his son and protect him from some of the more unpleasant realities of his situation. But when it all comes down to it, he will cross nations to find and protect his son, and he does just that. His journey isn’t perfect. He makes a lot of wrong decisions that ultimately make it harder for him, but he never gives up. I get so used to reading characters that are perfect in every way that I found Raj to be very refreshing. He’s not a perfect guy, but he tries his damnedest to make it right anyway. Great, great cast of characters.
The imagery in the plot is also fantastic. Some authors have a hard time conveying action scenes, because these scenes rely so heavily on what is happening and not what is being said. But Ben Burrell does this in a very vivid and engrossing manner. Every aspect of the scenes was something I could see playing out in my head because it was described that well. I couldn’t have been happier with this since I love reading a book that I can see in my head. To me, that is the mark of a good storyteller. I find it interesting that this author got his start in script writing, since I have found that script writers often have a hard time making the transition to full length fiction. Nothing could be further from the case for this book. This holds true for the different races that are present in the book. Each is different and you can tell has their own motivation, but all of them seem to center around finding this Token.
I highly recommend this book. It’s a quick, fun, interesting read that will have you fervently turning the pages until the very end. And even after it’s over, you’ll find yourself thinking about the story a few days later and wondering what happens next. Hopefully you won’t have to wait very long…I hear there are at least a few other books planned as follow-ups to this one. I know that I will be reading it, because I want to know what happens next. And I want to know if the beings mentioned at the temple are humans, I really just have to know.
Also, if you haven’t already checked out the other stops on this blog tour, so give them a look. I read each and every one, and all participants have done a fantastic job with a great book.