Book Review: Transformation by Carol Berg

Title: Transformation

Author: Carol Berg

Series: Rai-Kirah #1

Genre: Fantasy

Rating: 2.5/5 stars

The Overview: Seyonne is a man waiting to die. He has been a slave for sixteen years, almost half his life, and has lost everything of meaning to him: his dignity, the people and homeland he loves, and the Warden’s power he used to defend an unsuspecting world from the ravages of demons. Seyonne has made peace with his fate. With strict self-discipline he forces himself to exist only in the present moment and to avoid the pain of hope or caring about anyone. But from the moment he is sold to the arrogant, careless Prince Aleksander, the heir to the Derzhi Empire, Seyonne’s uneasy peace begins to crumble. And when he discovers a demon lurking in the Derzhi court, he must find hope and strength in a most unlikely place… -Goodreads

The Review:

Transformation was a mixed bag for me.

I liked the flowing writing style right away and found the basic premise of the book interesting. The characters showed some dynamics early on and there were a lot of interesting court politics to follow. I was sure this was going to be a 4-star read.

But ultimately I didn’t enjoy the execution of the characters and some of the plot points.

Inconsistency of character is probably my biggest criticism. One person in particular would swing wildly from one extreme to the other, and while I appreciate the duality of his profile, it was a bit overdone and not realistic in the slightest. Subtlety would’ve gone a long way here. He wasn’t the only one – a few of the characters flipped the switch on what had been established for them a couple times throughout the book and about the third time it happened, I lost investment in them completely. They just didn’t feel like real people.

As mentioned I also had trouble with the premise. It seems like the only reason for the heavy secrecy regarding demons was because it was convenient for the plot. Exposure by those fighting them would offer way too many solutions and then we wouldn’t have a plot. With some stories, if all the other elements are working for me I usually can just go with it and accept whatever premise I’m given, but because I was already not jazzed about some of the other plot points it was hard not to nitpick the whole thing.

I also don’t particularly like reading about metaphysical realms, and while that didn’t play a huge role in the book, during those parts I found myself dozing off.

Overall, despite how many people have told me they really enjoyed this trilogy, I’m coming in at a 2.5/5 stars – meaning I can grudgingly admit it was better than “just okay” but I’m not sure I liked it. For my personal tastes it was mediocre at best. I’m truthfully not sure if I’ll be reading on or not.

Recommendations: this story had a lot of ideas that were off the beaten path (to its benefit), however neither the overall premise, nor the character trajectories worked for me. That said, this was recommended to me by people who usually offer slam-dunks (they loved it), so take my underwhelming review with a grain of salt.

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by Niki Hawkes

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