A coming-of-age action story, this book takes a good look at bullying and oppression and the parallels between the two. This is very much a tale of the underdogs (no pun intended) meeting challenges that ought to be handled by those stronger and wiser. At the same time, the action centers around a political intrigue plot which blooms (pun totally intended) over the course of the book.
The two main characters are well rounded and the explorations of their relationship is interesting.
Even better, the core of the tale revolves around two individuals who are counter-typical for their races. Arara the runt Jegera. Se'ls the inept magician Kin. The bulk of the book is character driven, with plot conflicts mainly serving to heat up the crucibles in which the characters are being forged. This includes some very well-written action sequences. Fans of a good twist, however, will not finish the book disappointed
As a first novel, I was blown away. The thought and depth of the world Keller created is reminiscent of early Sanderson. The magic is, in my experience, quite unique. There are some interesting possibilities that arise from something as unique as this world, with an alliance between a pack-minded predatory race, and one that is more a sentient plant-based race, and the authors did a wonderful job of not squandering them. This is a great young adult novel, with easy to draw parallels between some of the common issues young adults face in this day and age, and the challenges the two main characters must overcome. The fact that I'm not the target audience but enjoyed the journey as much as I did says more about the experience of this story than I ever could.
Not once did I question the fact that the main characters were anthropomorphic dogs. The setting, the dialogue, even the plot gave this to me constantly without being a blunt instrument. I worried before I read it that I wouldn’t be able to associate with the characters as I’m not a furry. Quite to the contrary Snow Flower brought me in and gave me a big wet slurp on the nose.
Arara was the perfect underdog (ok.. pun was intended) – feisty and lovable. Her tone struck exactly the right point between pampered, sheltered brat and self-sufficient teen. Above all I love the fact that the questionable actions of Arara had consequences and not all of her plans went exactly as planned. Yet with each non-victory she was more determined than ever to succeed.
- B+ Review by Tom Gondolfi of TANSTAAFL Press