Book Review: Brimstone by Alan Skinner

T.B. Melanie May 6, 2013 2
  • Plot
  • Characters
  • Building Action
  • Climax and Falling Action

Brimstone by Alan SkinnerBrimstone is the first book in Alan Skinner’s Earth, Air, Fire, and Water set. It follows the life of Jenny Swift, a 15 year old girl just apprenticed- against her wishes – to one of the most famous alchemist’s in her world. She is taken from her family and their seclusion in the wood to the large city of Vale where she discovers that not only is her skin a different color, but it is rare for a woman to become an alchemist  When her new master is captured Jenny sets out on a journey of learning and discovery to return him and begin her apprenticeship.

The Daughter of a Wood Ward

Overall this book was a ‘good’ book. It was a great start to the series and will spur readers on to read more, but it wasn’t especially remarkable or unique. The following series has great potential. Brimstone set up a world where we already know Jenny will have to struggle to thrive even though she is gifted. This, and the ending of the book leave many opportunities for a great follow-up.

Thinking back about the book I had a hard time trying to decide what to write. Not much of the book is especially unique or remember-able  It’s not formulaic, but it is fairly normal. A good normal but not something I will think about for several days. I had to write down it’s title and author so that down the line I remember to look back and see if it’s sequels will appear.

The characters in this book were, for the most part, strictly good or strictly bad. With one exception, it was easy to see who was a villain (or would quickly become one) and who was going to help Jenny save the day. Several of the characters were very likable  I was especially fond of her father Ewan Swift who is characterized as a wood ward, a caretaker-sheriff like person for the area of Queerwood in the story.  He is kind and wise and most of all has taught Jenny a good deal before the beginning of the story. According to Mr. Skinner, many of the characters will return in the coming books and I for one hope Ewan will be one.

On a whole the plot, climax and falling action were fairly interesting. Jenny comes up with some surprising solutions to problems that take the story line in a direction that not many readers will predict. The falling action was especially well written. Though the reader knows what will happen because it’s been discussed for the whole of the book, it still brought tears to my eyes.

 Unique Reasons to Read

1. To gamble on the coming series: Hopefully the following books will also be good, if not great reads.

2. For lovable characters: Who doesn’t love a hero?.

While I probably won’t be recommending this to anyone unless they are looking for a new series to read and have burned through all the great ones I know about, I do intend on keeping an eye out for it’s sequels.

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  1. Alan Skinner May 13, 2013 at 4:29 am - Reply

    Thank you, Melanie, for taking the time to share your thoughts on Brimstone.

    Rest assured that Ewan returns in Hourglass, the sequel to Brimstone. Hourglass is a much more complex novel, with several story lines running in parallel before converging. There are also some new characters, including Ashar, a smart and talented boy who becomes both foil and friend for Jenny.

    I’ll let you know when Hourglass is released.

    Best regards


  2. T.B. Melanie May 16, 2013 at 3:08 am - Reply

    I look forward to Hourglass and meeting your new characters!

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