Jeffrey Overstreet's debut novel, Auralia's Colors, is breaking new welcome ground in the fantasy genre.
The story begins with the discovery of a mysterious child who is taken in by a society of outcasts and lawbreakers, living outside the walls of the House of Abascar. Auralia grows up with the other orphans, but Auralia is not your general, run-of-the-mill child.
We've seen this before: the unique child with the power to change the world. It's not a new story -- until it is deposited into Overstreet's hands. In Auralia's case, the change she brings doesn't save the world in one fell swoop. In fact, the world as the inhabitants of House Abascar know it is … well, demolished, and their future uncertain.
This isn't the only thing that sets Auralia's Colors apart from the rest of the fantasy genre. In fact, the twist on what has become a familiar formula isn't even the most exciting and ground-breaking.
Rather, it is the emphasis that Overstreet puts on the use of color. From the shades of grey in the storyline to the bold, vibrant colors that surround Auralia, this book -- and, hopefully, this series -- is defined by this one simple element.
It all began when Queen Jaralaine journeyed to House Bal Amica. On her unexpected return, the Queen declared that House Abascar had entered the Winter of Abascar. Every member of the House was ordered to hand their colors over to the palace, where they would be stored until the Queen declares the time right for Abascar to return at its full splendor. Then, the colors would be returned.
Twenty years later, the people are beginning to forget what color looks like and how it feels. The Housefolk rarely, if ever, leave the walled city; they do not get to see the colors of nature. Enter a young foundling named Auralia and her colors.
No one knows much about Auralia: where she came from, who she is, or why she's able to spin threads of found objects into items of beautiful, outstanding color: pillows, curtains, clothes.
Best of all, there seems to be a healing component to her items, although this is -- sadly -- never fully explored by Overstreet. Nor is the origins of her talents, although there are hints and suggestions about Northfolk and the Keeper, a figure only children speak of and believe in. Supposedly, when a child grows up, they leave behind their belief in the Keeper.
Yet there are enough hints of Northfolk and the Keeper to make the reader -- and a few characters in the book -- believe they are more than mere fairy tales. And by the end of the book, when havoc has been wreaked and the future altered irrevocably, it is obvious that Auralia isn't the only character in this book with ties to these seemingly-mythical people.
The number of mysteries in this one book are huge. In addition to Auralia, there are the ale boy, the truth behind Queen Jaraline's peculiar disappearance, and, of course, the Keeper and the Northmen. Not to mention the question you'll have when you shut the book: So what happens now?
Yes, we are set up for a continuation of this story. This isn't a trilogy, nor a series. Rather, it is a Thread, a term that fits what Overstreet has begun with Auralia.
Hopefully the next book will answer many of these questions, or at least begin to. Overstreet has created a huge concept that was stuffed into the rather small House Abascar. With the destruction of the House, the potential for a more vivid picture of the world as a whole and a glimpse of the members of the other Houses, becomes very real.
As of this writing, there is no information on when the next book in the Thread will be released. However, it'll be worth keeping an eye out for. What happens next to these people is a delicious, intriguing promise.
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