Balam, Spring by Travis M. Riddle
Ebook. 422 pages.
Lately, I've been feeling a little... burnt out, if you will, due to how much dark and epic fantasy I've been reading. I love those types of fantasy, but I've been doing a lot of reviews and reading a lot of books that are dark, often nihilistic, fairly violent, full of political plotting, etc. I love all those, but it's left me feeling bombarded lately. When I started reading Balam, Spring and found this beautiful, welcoming small town with quirky characters and a sense of normalcy, I was elated. (If you think I'm exaggerating, you should have seen me running around gushing about how perfect this book was to everyone) Balam, Spring is a book that you can just sit down and lose yourself in because not only is it a lovely small town setting, it also has an intriguing plot line to keep you hooked.
I really loved the fantasy world that Riddle created for this book It's the sort of setting that feels somewhat like our own, but is clearly a second world fantasy and is full of magic and magical creatures. Balam is a quiet seaside town that moves at what can only be described as a leisurely place. Things don't stay all sunshine and rainbows, however, and there are indeed some serious events that happen and are discussed in this book, but Balam, Spring never loses its charm and relaxing quality. I need some art for this book because I think it would make for some beautiful illustrations. And if you're anything like me who loves a good food description, you will be in heaven with the amount of food depicted in this book.
The main characters we follow are Aava, Theo, and Ryckert. Of course, we get to meet many of the other town members as well, all of which are wonderful and have their unique story that adds dimension to the story as well.
Theo is a teacher, married to a lovely woman named Lyra, and an all-around nice guy. He becomes a big part of this story because he is the one that is with the White Mage when she dies from her illness. Both Theo and Ryckert have interesting backstories, but I have to admit that Theo's was the more surprising of the two and made me understand Theo and his relationship with his family in a better light.
Aava is the temporary White Mage brought in to take over the town's White Mage duties until a more permanent replacement can be found. Aava is fresh out of school and is nervous--and a bit excited--to start her duties as a White Mage. She gets a bit more than she bargained for when the mysterious illness takes over the town, and I was impressed to see how well she handled the situation for being someone so young and relatively inexperienced.
Lastly we have Ryckert, a rather reclusive rocyan that lives in Balam. He gets drawn into everything because his own curiosity is simply too strong, and I enjoyed seeing his interactions with the various townspeople. Ryckert is a resourceful and intelligent person who prefers to be on his own and not become a big part of the town's events, but as the story progresses he slowly develops relationships a few people that help him realize it's okay to open up more.
I didn't expect certain parts of this book to get quite as dark or intense as they did, but I think it added a really great balance to the tone of the book. Looking back, I actually really liked how even though some horrible things happened, the sense of warmth and comfort from the town and its inhabitants never went away, which I think is nice to remember when we all go through our own dark times.
Overall, I've given Balam, Spring four-and-a-half stars! I had a wonderful time reading this book. I have no idea if Riddle plans to write more books in this world or with these characters, but I would absolutely pick them up--though I'll probably try out anything he writes out, if we're being honest. If you're looking for a charming and compelling book, then I can't recommend Balam, Spring enough.
Buy the book: Amazon | Book Depository
*I received a copy of Balam, Spring courtesy of the author in exchange for an honest review. This has no effect on my rating. Thanks to TBRindr!*
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