Happy Sunday, book friends! Once again I’m here with a review, this time of Seeker by Arwen Elys Dayton. This is a recently released fantasy that I picked up whilst on holiday to read in between the fifty thousand contemporaries I’ve been reading recently. It was an interesting book, and so if it sounds like your sort of thing, I would recommend you grab yourself a copy. Here’s the synopsis;
Quin Kincaid has been put through years of brutal training for what she thinks is the noble purpose of becoming a revered ‘Seeker’.Only when it’s too late does she discover she will be using her new-found knowledge and training to become an assassin. Quin's new role will take her around the globe, from a remote estate in Scotland to a bustling, futuristic Hong Kong where the past she thought she had escaped will finally catch up with her.
It was well written and different from a lot of the fantasies I've been reading lately. It does, however, putter along at a leisurely pace. At times, the book feels like it's dragging, and you have to persevere through some bits. It's a bit scary when you buy a book without consulting goodreads and then go home and check the reviews to find out that lots of really popular and respected YA reviewers DNF'd the book! But I was able to finish it and still like it quite a bit, so if you're okay with that sort of pacing there's lots of potential that you will really enjoy this book.
So go read Seeker and then head back here to discuss and compare our thoughts!
Seeker is a book I am really conflicted over. I have so many feelings and I'm not quite sure what my overall thoughts are, so I am sorry if this is a bit rambly.
First of all, this was a high fantasy, no doubt about it. The writing, the story, the mythology, everything about it was undoubtedly high fantasy. However, and I'm sure I've said this before, personally, I don't get high fantasies that are set in modern day time with technology and etc. I find that rarely do they work and they are extremely hard to execute well, for example, Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard. Both Red Queen and Seeker had these electronic elements but were written as high fantasies, and it creates this hybrid of a story that I find hard to categorize in my mind. It feels like a high fantasy, but then it feels like a dystopian, and then it slowly morphs into an odd sort of urban-but-still-high fantasy that doesn't flow nicely.
I didn't feel that this particular phenomenon effected Seeker as much as it did Red Queen, but certainly when touch screens, phones, cameras and TV was mentioned in Seeker, I was thrown out of the story and had to remember that this must be set in today's time, or in the future. Though these moments were few, it made the story less magical and special, for sure. It would've worked better, in my opinion, if the story had been set in a timeless, fantasy Scotland. I'd love to know your thoughts on this... and if you've ever read a fantasy like this that you thought worked really well. Let me know through any of my socials or my email which will be at the end of this post.
The characters in this book were interesting, to say the least. I felt like we needed more time with Quin, seeing as though she was the main character. I finished the story wanting more of her POV, and I for sure preferred her chapters to any other character's. It was so interesting to see her character change and develop from the blindly-following daughter she was at the start to the independent fighter she was at the end. It was especially interesting to see this in comparison to John's character development.
John was a really exciting character to read about. At the start, he seemed to just be a young, naive teenage boy, a little bit angsty but other than that, fairly normal. We slowly saw deeper into his character as he unraveled, turning more and more selfish, vengeful and all around sociopathic throughout the book. Another clever thing about John's character was that he hated Briac, but the parallels between him and Briac became increasingly clear as the story went on. Quin told him he would turn out like Briac, but he was so convinced he was doing the right thing, fulfilling his promise to his mother and restoring his house that he didn't see what he was becoming. Seeing him try to rationalize these violent acts was terrifying but so satisfying as a reader and reviewer, because it was such wonderful characterization. I am extremely keen to see where John's character goes in the next book.
It took me some time to start caring about Shinobu, because, truthfully, I didn't expect him to be as important as he turned out to be. His character wasn't really developed all that much until the second half of the book, once they got to Hong Kong. The things we did know about him, however, were pretty interesting and came into play rather significantly towards the end of the book. His relationship with his father was really realistic and painful to read. In comparison to the dynamic between Quin and Briac, Alistair and Shinobu had a really fun, playful father-son relationship, and when Alistair tried to warn Shinobu about what seekers really did, my heart broke a little. Alistair was always the good cop to Briac's bad cop. He was, of course, ruthless, but at least he genuinely cared about Quin and Shinobu.
When Alistair died, and Shinobu let him, I felt horrible for the both of them, because they were both so terribly stuck in the dangerous, destructive seeker web constructed by Briac that they were emotionally drained and confused. It was one of the most painful moments, along with Quin and her unraveling relationship with John.
Quin and John's relationship was always a little bit questionable, but even more so considering what we learn about John throughout the book. It was sad to see Quin and the way she realized that what she had with John was never going to be able to be salvaged. In comparison, it was chilling to see John try to convince himself that Quin still loved him and that, even though he was forcing her into teaching him something that seriously hurt her and made her incredibly self-destructive, she would come back to him and always love him. It was just another part of John's character that was terrifying and positively sent chills down my spine.
Despite all this, I seriously thought Quin and John would be endgame (at least in this book, if not at the end of the series as well) but apparently not. I assumed that Shinobu's affections for Quin would remain unrequited indefinitely. Especially considering the fact that they're cousins... well, half third cousins, as they so frequently reminded us. I did not expect Quin/Shinobu to be endgame, for sure. It was quite a shock and I will be interested to see whether they continue to be together throughout the rest of the series, and how everyone else will react to the slightly incesty themes there.
In the actual story, it's true to say that not that much actually happened, and the plot was quite straightforward, meaning the story doesn't really go very fast. It is more slow and steady than that. Most of the story was spent with John trying to get the athame and Quin trying to either keep it from him or forget what she'd done as a seeker. Personally, I would've preferred a little more development on what they thought seekers actually did, and why they so desperately wanted to be seekers. Of course there was all the 'evildoers beware' stuff, but besides that, they didn't actually know all that much about being seekers, which is what Briac and the other sworn seekers wanted. But there was no real incentive for Quin to want to be a seeker, considering she didn't even like her father all that much.
The storyline with the Dreads was interesting and I enjoyed reading from Maud's point of view, but it did feel a little out of place sometimes, considering it was a very ancient-magic sort of thing and the story was set in modern day. I felt like there was a lot of focus on the Dreads and they didn't really have all that much of an impact on the story.
Overall, I did actually enjoy the story, despite the things I've brought up in this review. I loved the setting and the mythology, but I wish there had been no technology or other modern elements! I'd love to know your thoughts on Seeker and whether you're going to read the second book, Traveler, when it comes out, because I'm undecided as of yet.
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Have a wonderful week and I'll see you soon with another post!