Review: Sunbolt – Intisar Khanani

Book cover: An 8-pointed star with an intricate circular knot in orange-gold on a blue patterned background.

The winding streets and narrow alleys of Karolene hide many secrets, and Hitomi is one of them. Orphaned at a young age, Hitomi has learned to hide her magical aptitude and who her parents really were. Most of all, she must conceal her role in the Shadow League, an underground movement working to undermine the powerful and corrupt Arch Mage Wilhelm Blackflame.

When the League gets word that Blackflame intends to detain—and execute—a leading political family, Hitomi volunteers to help the family escape. But there are more secrets at play than Hitomi’s, and much worse fates than execution. When Hitomi finds herself captured along with her charges, it will take everything she can summon to escape with her life.

I first came across Intisar Khanani through her short story: The Bone Knife. So when it came to choosing books for Ramadan Readathon, I decided to read one of her others books: Sunbolt. I was really nervous about reading this book because I thought it would be boring. I was wrong. So wrong!

Hitomi is an awesome main character. Due to her past, she has to hide part of her identity a secret. She’s very rash and knows exactly what she wants. And she’s multiracial! I’m so excited about this, like seriously, how many fantasy books can you think of that have multiracial characters, let alone main characters. Her father is from a Middle-Eastern-inspired region, and I assume her mother is from a Japanese-inspired region. There were so many experiences and feelings that I could relate to! (Disclaimer: I don’t share the same ethnicities that Hitomi has, but I’m also multiracial.)

There is very little emphasis on romance in this book, which I absolutely loved as most of the fantasy books that I’ve read have a very heavy romantic-love plotline and it’s nice to read something different once in a while. Actually, it’s more than nice, it’s wonderful!

There are various different people in this book: humans, Lycans, Fangs and Breathers, and they all have misconceptions about each other. These misconceptions are called out and various characters realise that not all people from one group fulfill the stereotypes of that group. Hitomi herself learns to question her own beliefs. What I also liked was that the characters belonging to these groups were not all the same, e.g. not all humans were good nor were they all evil.

I  loved the ending of this book, as upon reading it, I felt like I had read a complete story but also that I wanted to know more about Hitomi’s next steps.

Sunbolt wowed me. I actually ended up reading the sequel Memories of Ash in the same night and then her other full-length novel Thorn. I think it’s safe to say that I am in love with Intisar Khanani’s work. I am eagerly awaiting the release of the third book in The Sunbolt Chronicles, and her companion trilogy to Thorn.

5 stars

Have you read Sunbolt? Have you read other books by Intisar Khanani?


21 thoughts on “Review: Sunbolt – Intisar Khanani

  1. I feel like this is the universe’s kind reminder to read this book. I love stories that have heroines learning and questioning world views in nuanced ways.


    1. I did enjoy Sunbolt more than Thorn but that is just my opinion. Have you read The Bone Knife yet – it’s a free novella by the same author and really good! It introduces the main character for the companion series of Thorn.


  2. It always makes me so happy to see other people loving this book! I absolutely adored it (and the sequel, and Thorn) when I read it too. I can’t wait for the next one -even though I’ll have to re-read the first two because it’s been quite a while. I’m glad to see you give this book a shout out, so more people are likely to pick it up. Wonderful review! 🙂


  3. Honestlyyy Sinead, I am HERE for this book. Like the light emphasis on romance has got me heart-eyeing (while I AM a romance lover, I feel like there are some times in adventure stories where it’s more of a hindrance than anything). And a multiracial main character who’s not afraid to do what she thinks? I need to get my copy now.


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