#LennReads – Book Review of “Homes”

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The past few months have been somewhat of an epic journey of my own.  Among busy schedules, the worst season of illness in our household, and now new writing adventures, I finally am happy to present you with my book review of Derek A Kamal’s Homes.

My Likes:

  1. Book Quality.

I must say first and foremost that when I received a copy of Homes I was impressed with the quality of the book.  Kamal and his illustrator did an amazing job with the book’s design and layout which is why I recommend getting the hardcopy instead of the e-book.  I especially loved seeing the world’s map at the beginning of the book instead of being tucked away at the end of the book.  It was setting the scene before I even began reading the prologue.  Well done, Mr. Kamal.

  1. Terrific Worldbuilding.

In addition to the map, one aspect readers will enjoy is the worldbuilding of Homes. Kamal is able to describe the settings with vivid intent.  He was able to take me into the mines of the Dwarves from the beginning.  Throughout Gram’s journey, readers will be exposed to a new kind of world, venturing the secret life below all the way up to the tallest of mountains.

  1. Gram’s Relationships with Faff and Oelia.

Within the story there are two special relationships Gram has.  The first is between Gram and his close friend, Faff.  I particularly liked these two characters because I found their relationship reminiscent of Frodo and Samwise.  However, Gram has more gruff to him than Frodo ever will, but you’ll like Gram nonetheless.

The other relationship is between Gram and Oelia.  This happened to be my favorite two characters because as a reader you get to explore a different side of Gram.  In addition, the two of them have conversations over a pot of tea, so how could I not love them?!  There is a twist in the plot that changes their relationship but that’s all I’ll disclose.  🙂

My Dislikes: 

With any review, I’ll be honest and say there were a couple of things I might have changed.

  1. The Prologue.

It was a bit confusing to read initially, but once I got the tone of the character I was able to make sense of it.  If you happen to be a game master (GM) or are into tabletop gaming you’ll appreciate the prologue.  Either way, the prologue does provider pertinent information that develops the story.  I promise it will make sense later.

  1. The Heavy Dose of Backstory.

This was hard for me to admit because as a writer I understand how much we want our readers to be immersed in the story.  Kamal’s approach is a bit different in that he writes a backstory within sentences like so:

“During these lulls, some occupied themselves by sitting, staring into nothing, thinking the thoughts of dwarves (which largely consist of their next drink or meal, beautiful things, subterranean creatures, folklore, and family drama), swinging their crossed legs absentmindedly.” (Pg. 92)

You will not be bombarded with chapters upon chapters of backstory, so don’t let that deter you from the story.  It was more of a stylistic observation I made.  Is this how I would tell the story?  Probably not.  Should Kamal have changed this pattern?  Absolutely not.  Again like a GM, this is how Kamal conveys the story, and I don’t fault him for that.

Overall Impression:

Homes offers a unique story centered on a dwarf named Gram.  This book offers adventure and whimsy within a well-crafted world.  If you enjoy tabletop gaming, I would highly recommend this book.  To everyone else, you will love the characters.

My rating is 4 stars.

Until next post,

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