Imitatore by A. Rose is a fantasy story set in a world where magical powers are common. Sophie is not unique because she has magical powers—she is unique because she has many magical powers. Her father tries to keep this hidden, but his efforts are in vain. Threats are coming Sophie’s way.
In many ways, this was a refreshing read. The world, the diversity of characters, and even the fact that this was a complex story set in a fictional world, but nevertheless not that long, more like a novella. This is the first fantasy story I’ve ever read featuring a trans character, which I truly appreciated.
The style of writing was very direct and matter-of-fact, as well as detached. This is not to say that there is not emotion in the text, but the words conveyed mostly actions. More than once, I’d feel like I was in the middle of a very calm, matter-of-fact conversation until suddenly I was informed that one of these people is crying. A lot of confrontations that would have been presented as confrontational in another story are, here, simple discussions.
I do like the matter-of-fact style of writing. At many points, it could be quite comedic by contrasting the emotions being portrayed and the dryness of the text portraying them, which I enjoyed.
The sentence structure can often feel a little off, and I struggled with this for the first half of the book. But at that point, I realized that it’s written as if it’s meant to be read out loud. After that, I started imagining the story being read aloud as I read, and that made it instantly easier to read. I think that this story would make a nice audiobook.
The beginning of the book was a little difficult to get through. Three times I read through the prologue and chapter 1, one of these times making it through chapter 2 before realizing that I had no sense of what was going on and giving up for the moment. I would then try again a few days later. The prologue is a lot of foreshadowing of things that we don’t understand; chapter 1 introduces us to the world and circumstances surrounding the main character (but not the main character). Chapter 2 finally introduces us to the main character. These three chapters were difficult for me because they mostly convey a sense of mysteriousness and remark on all these things that the characters do not know.
This could be a very effective start for a thriller. The trouble is, we’re in a fantasy world, so we readers know less than nothing. The narrative is trying to build suspense, but in doing so, we don’t have anything to latch onto to care that the suspense is building. Most glaring is the motivations described in chapter 1: Sarah is doing a task without knowing why she is doing it, but only because that’s what she’s been told to do. It’s difficult to care about a character when their introduction offers only actions with no motivation and no stakes.
I wish this had seen one more edit, because while the typos weren’t everywhere, they were not uncommon. Most jarring was the odd and inconsistent capitalization on the word “the.” When there is a mention of any capitalized noun that requires a the, such as “the Society,” most often it will be written as “The Society”; except on occasion when it is “the Society.”
Added to this, the text on my Kindle is a grayish color rather than black, lowering the contrast and making it a little harder on my eyes. I couldn’t find a way to darken the text.
These details are factors that will surely alienate some readers. That is a great shame, because A. Rose has talent. Her “about the author” page is a delight to read in and of itself, and highlights her skill as a writer. This is a fantastic story told in her dry, matter-of-fact voice—I just wish it were more polished. I hope that she will continue to hone her skill, and look forward to her books of the future.
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