Born of Water by Autumn M. Birt
My rating: 1 of 5 stars
It took me weeks to read this book, and I’m a fast reader. I can usually finish a novel of this length in a couple of days. There were a few times when I almost gave up on it altogether. Reading it was like trying to run through hip-deep water.
The premise starts out interesting enough: a waterbender (not really, but close enough), Priestess Niri, of the elemental Church of something-or-other, finds a girl who can control elements.
Unfortunately, Ria can control all of the elements, and the Church frowns upon this. In fact, they kill such people, calling them magic-users. Those who have control of one element only, like Niri, are brought into the Church when young to be raised and taught (read ‘brainwashed’). Those who control “magic,” like Ria, are hunted down and murdered.
Unfortunately, the whole thing falls apart rather quickly. It is clear that Autumn Birt does not have the necessary skills to compose a novel.
Grammar rules are broken for no rhyme nor reason. For example, one of the characters says, “I will help you Ria.” This is basic comma usage: “I will help you, Ria.” It’s elementary, my dear! And in another chapter, “Though slightly built, her expression was powerful and stormy.” Her expression was slightly built? How?
Birt simply doesn’t know how to choose the correct words to get her meaning across clearly. “With sinking resolve, Darag realized he would have to spend the night in the frozen Temple.” How does resolve sink? It doesn’t. It can fail, or weaken, but sink? Also, “Niri found herself smiling despite the dull pain that rummaged inside of her.” I kind of like the image of pain “rummaging” around inside someone, but then it wouldn’t be dull, would it?
The phrasing is often jarringly awkward, yanking the reader out of the story to blink and reread the sentence, trying to figure out why you would write that. For example: “The point of his sister’s sword was sticking through his throat.” No, she didn’t kill her brother. She killed some other guy. But I don’t care about the death or her feelings or anything. The action didn’t feel immediate, and there was no emotion.
Birt jumps around from head to head within one scene, making it very hard to follow who thinks/feels what. Eg: “Ria could feel Lavinia tense next to her. Lavinia’s fingers curled under the bench, the idea not sitting well with her.” One sentence is Ria’s POV, while the very next one tells us what Lavinia thinks. Ugh.
Ria is likely one of the most pathetic heroines I’ve read lately. She whines and cries about the Church chasing her and wanting to kill her; she nearly worships Niri’s ability with “waterbending”; then she turns around and accuses Niri of working with the Church even though Niri has demonstrated time and again that she has left that behind her. Come to think of it, Ria’s friends waffle back and forth too. No one can decide who they are. Now, I don’t have a problem with being unsure whether you can trust someone, but their basic character changes to suit the plot. That’s just bad writing.
Lest you think I just hated the whole thing, I did like some of the descriptions. For example: “The evening air was cooler and brought with it the smells of the orange and almond orchards outside the city. Trellised flowers encasing colonnades and railings opened their buds into the kinder air.” That’s beautiful, and paints a clear picture in my head.
I got this book for free on Kindle, but I probably will be deleting it as I cannot imagine I will ever subject myself to reading it again. Unfortunately, I cannot recommend it either.
Go watch Avatar: The Last Airbender instead. Same idea, much better writing.
View all my reviews