Published by: Amulet Books
ISBN 13: 9781419709289
Published: June 2014
Format reviewed: eVersion from NetGalley
Site: Author Site
Goodreads: Book Page
Stars: Four out of Five
‘Otherbound’ by Corinne Duyvis is a standalone fantasy novel – a rare thing, sometimes. It becomes even rarer when we note that within the pages there are queer characters, people of colour leads, and physically disabled leads. Told in dual point of view, we meet both Amara and Nolan.
Amara, in her fantasy world we know as the Dunelands, struggles on as she tries to protect a cursed princess she must sacrifice herself for every time the royal blood is spilt. Thanks to her ability to heal, Amara is lucky enough to be able to sacrifice herself time, and time, and time again. With her tongue cut out as part of her preparation as a servant, Amara and those around her are bound by sign language, and throughout the book, it is used effectively.
Nolan, in his cozy home in Arizona, sees Amara’s world every time he closes his eyes, as when he does, he sees through hers. It’s what caused an accident years ago that injured him. In another point I must point out that marks this novel apart from others, Amara doesn’t see Nolan’s world whenever her eyes are closed – this is simply a one way connection. One that takes Amara by surprise, and anger, when she finds out about it.
Still, it comes in handy when protecting the princess and manoeuvring between the angst and demands of the world. Chaperoned by an abusive man, and experiencing losses unexpected, Amara and her princess and those after them all, literally need all the help they can get, despite what they may have to experience or allow in order to let it happen.
This is no simple love story, set worlds apart. Because of tropes, one almost expects Amara and Nolan to find a spark together, but throughout they remain stoic and barely able to work together. Throughout the novel we come over unexpected things, which leads the author as someone to be watched closely for what they come out with next. As a debut novel this is a fantastically strong book, with only a few, very minor quibbles. I would have loved to see more of the world, as it wasn’t one of the usual white-person filled medieval style fantasy. I would have loved to see more of the magic that binds them all. You don’t need to see more of either in order to enjoy and believe in the story – as I said, they’re very minor quibbles, and I should add in ‘selfish’ there, too. It’s what I would have loved to see, personally.
This is an excellent, original, spellbinding book. I can’t wait to see what Duyvis does next.