Readers of Elemental: The First will quickly find themselves engrossed into the world of Rose Frost as she struggles with what many teens (and honestly, most adults) are dealing with – finding out where she belongs. After a lifetime of moving from place to place, Rose is separated from her parents and older sister when she is sent to live with her grandmother, Daisy, in the small town of Warminster in Westshire, England. From the beginning of the story, the reader is drawn into the emotions of May’s characters and connected through excellent descriptions of their actions and interactions. Readers in the US might be perplexed by some of the British references and terminology, but overall will still find it understandable enough to lose themselves in the story.
The prologue was challenging to get through as I found myself caught up by some grammatical issues and awkward phrasing, but once I allowed myself to sink into the story, I found it very enjoyable. I think some of the issues I had while reading might be related to the author’s use of British English rather than any actual issues with structure, but readers who are used to American English might have some trouble with the flow of her writing until they get deeper into the story.
Some fantasy writers that pull in historical facts overwhelm the reader with excessive details and obstruct the flow of the story. In this, May proves herself a master – the historical details and references are clear without being overwhelming and are comprehensive without burying the story in minutia. My only other slight discomfort came during the reveal of the last 25ish pages of the book. I wish May had spent more time explaining the details of the Primords and really digging into the relationship between Aidan and his grandfather. I can only hope this will be discussed in the next book in the series, but I felt more time in this book should have been devoted to these details.
Overall, lovers of fantasy and historical fiction alike will find themselves lost in the prose and descriptive narrative in May’s work. She handles her teenage characters in an honest and heartfelt way while piecing together her story in a way that draws in adults and young adults alike and will leave them wanting more.
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