Book Review: Radiant by Karina Sumner-Smith

It has been hit and miss for me when I pick up a book through Book Bub. Truthfully, more miss than hit, even when the book is touted as having “over 100 five-star reviews.” I have stopped reading more books after the first chapter than I can count, so I always hold my breath a bit when reading the first few pages. My exact note after about a page and a half of Radiant says: “Yes! Great hook. Intriguing concept, compelling protagonist.”

I absolutely loved the world the author has built, which feels like a mash-up of urban fantasy and post-apocalyptic sci-fi. The herione, Xhea, has so much grit and determination for a young wisp of a girl that I now find myself asking, “What would Xhea do?” in challenging situations (like waking too early to a hollering toddler). Her carefully crafted facade is just vulnerable enough to allow for her journey from street urchin to the ultimate best friend. The reader intimately feels her hurts, both physical and emotional.

As Xhea risks her life to save an unlikely friend, she must learn how to manage a dark magic that is as rare as her ability to see ghosts, all while pitting herself against the forces of a society she wishes would both save her and leave her alone.

One of the first lines that grabbed me is: “Never before had she felt a ghost’s presence like a bruise in midair.” This is how I feel about the forthcoming second book of the series. I am impatient but I can hear Xhea say, “You have to wait for a book release? So what?”

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