Spice Bringer

Narrated by: Senn Annis
Length: 10 hrs and 38 mins
Categories: Teens, Ages 11-13
4.5 out of 5 stars (9 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

A deadly disease. A vanishing remedy. A breathless journey.

All her life, Niya's known she will die young from the fatal rasp. She survives only with the aid of vitrisar spice and a magical, curmudgeonly fire salamander named Alk. Then an ambitious princess burns down the vitrisar grove in an effort to steal Alk so she can claim her rightful throne. Joined by Jayesh, a disgraced monk, Niya and Alk must flee to the faraway Hidden Temple with the last vitrisar plant, or all who suffer from the rasp will perish.

But even as Niya’s frustration and banter with Jayesh deepen to affection, the rasp is stealing away her breath and life.

For a girl with limited time and a crippling quest, love may be more painful than death.

©2018 H. L. Burke (P)2019 H. L. Burke

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Average Customer Ratings

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

The brilliance that is Alk

Having read this before, I can tell you that Alk is easily a favorite character. His sarcastic wit lends comedy to what can an emotionally charged story. This book contains all the feels, tears, anger, joy, and thanks to Alk, some laughs.

All that to say, the performance of the cheeky salamander was going to make or break this audiobook.

Senn Annis did an amazing job with all the characters, but most especially Alk. For Alk she used a voice quite unlike any if the others. it helped distinguish Alk as a supernatural being and perfectly matches his attitude and snarky timing.

1 person found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

excellent addition to this author's list

Wonderful story of adventure, love, and mystery. The characters wrapped themselves around my heart. Will listen to over and over.

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    3 out of 5 stars

Better to Read--But Do Read!

The Great Things:
The handling of loss is extremely well done in this book, and the narrator does it justice. There's a fine sprinkling of humor, as well, and I both laughed and teared at various points during the reading.

Character interactions and conflicts are well-treated and realistic, and lend depth to the characters.

The plot is excellent; my husband can normally guess at how everything is going to go in a novel, but he was wrong several times about this one! Lots of good complexity with many small twists that keep things interesting and the story moving forward. It is nearly seamlessly woven.

This is a brave premise and heartfelt story with a satisfying conclusion, though not a cliched one where everything is perfectly resolved. It feels more like real life, and has beautiful things to say about making the most of the time we have.

The narration has a nice range of diverse intonation and distinct voices for the three main characters; it is also audible when the character is having an internal thought versus a spoken line.

The Downsides:
The narrator does not give enough 'punch' to the more passionate or outright loud lines of dialogue. There is one level of intensity for delivery.

The repeated phrases. Good heavens, the repeated phrases. "No, she would not..." or "Yes, she would..." show up CONSTANTLY. Every emotion or sensation is "(emotion) (verb) through him/her." There are more, but those are the worst offenders. I think it would be less of an annoyance if I was reading the book instead of listening to it.

The romance gets kind of ridiculous, and too many words are spent emhasizing, reemphasizing, and at points just plain hounding the reader about how strong the attraction is between the two characters. At one point the main character is watching the love interest rub down a horse and thinks that she would like his hands on *her* "flanks." Yes, she actually said flanks. I literally yelled at the book at that point.

The heroine's internal discourse, in particular, seems a little too heavy/prolific to me. I got tired of hearing her go over the same problems in her head every chapter. Admittedly, this is a hard balance to strike, and in a youth book it's more reasonable to have every thought, feeling, and decision reasoned through in the reader's presence, as it were. However, as the sexual allusions make this a solidly YA and NOT middle grade novel, I still count it as a downside. I think this, also, would be less bothersome in paper format since you could skim a bit.

In conclusion, I'll reiterate the fact that this tale is bravely conceived and executed--the quest of a dying girl and the strife of trying to wring every drop of happiness from her life without becoming too attached to it. I would recommend it to anyone who likes a strong heroine and fun, realistic characters with a genuine depth and heart beneath their scaly... er... prickly exterior. But the dead tree version would have been preferable.

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    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

Unique Story

This is such an interesting and unique book, I'm not sure what to rate it or say about it in a review. The worldbuilding is very unique with a setting in the jungle and caravan roads and a culture influenced by India. The main character is suffering a disease that will kill her sooner rather than later, adding an aditional urgency to the book as her own life is ticking away. The fire salamanders were cool, though it took me a while to warm to Alk because he was kind of mean in the beginning. But that was part of his character growth.

The religion aspect was unique as well. It is polytheistic with monks following various orders. But it was also heavily influenced by a Christian worldview and used the polytheism to examine deep discussions from different angles. It will not be everyone's favorite approach but it is challenging and makes the reader think.

I listened to the audiobook version, and the narrator does a good job. She wasn't my favorite narrator, but I at least wasn't put off by the narrator either.

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Great world and story

I really enjoyed listening to Spice Bringer! It was so different from the normal magical land, and I really loved how the author took topics of things happening in our world today and wove them into this amazing tale. I enjoyed how unique the characters were with their conflicting motivations and emotions. I was engaged throughout the entire book and couldn't wait to see what happened next. The book covered every emotion, and made me tear up, laugh, and get frustrated with characters choices! I would definitely recommend to a friend. *I was given this book in exchange for an honest review.