This book is an interwoven fantastical tale of family, of loss and sacrifice, of unexpected gifts and coping with disability and new abilities set against the backdrop of climate change occurring across parallel worlds. In Oceanlight, Yalara Narika, a winged Sea Sprite, searches for her lover over immense seas only to find catastrophe and realization that her world is in turmoil.
Meanwhile in the safe suburban normality of North Wales, Einion Morgan Alban, a restless youth afflicted by a disease of the blood, is nearly murdered by a man in a white suit. Yalara and Einion must discover the causes of their near-deaths and their as yet unrevealed connections as they both face upheaval to their lives and their worlds.
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Interview with N.R. Bates:
What genre do you write and why?
I write a mash-up of epic fantasy, magic realism, with a little science fiction, real science (Oceanography) and Celtic history and myth added to the mix.
Do you snack while writing? Favorite snack?
If I snack at my desk, it tends to be covered in ants an hour or so later! So I don’t snack typically. Living in the subtropics has its disadvantages. Occasionally, I will drink tea with a little milk or a mug of espresso with steamed milk.
Where do you get inspiration for your stories?
There were several themes I wanted to write about for the Oceanlight series. The first was a way to highlight in a different way about ocean ecology, and environmental and climate change. I decided to write under the broad genre of epic fantasy and science fiction, weaving in serious issues about the state of the planet. In these genres though there are never many characters who are disabled. Few characters are really faced with physical constraints that limit their actions. A major character in the book, Einion Morgan Alban, is faced with the realities and adjustments of being born with haemophilia (note: the British spelling; hemophilia in the U.S.). In the period I wrote for him, treatments for the condition were rather rudimentary and internal bleeds were life-threatening—I know this from very real personal experience. The difficulties still remain today despite the ups and down of medical advancement.
How long have you been writing?
I started writing short-stories, poems and song lyrics as a teenager and continued since then mostly writing non-fiction i.e., scientific papers. In my mid-twenties, I got serious about a scientific career and thus focused on communicating science to the community of oceanographers. But I could not bury creative writing forever and I felt impelled to resume writing fiction a few years ago.
Do you write every day?
Yes and No. I write scientific text almost every day; but not every day for fiction. I wish I could write fiction each day but life and my career as a scientist intrudes a lot.
If you could go back in time, where would you go?
The 1920’s; and living alternately in Paris and London. It would be between the first and second war; and before the Great Depression. On the Left Bank of Paris, perhaps I’d be lucky enough to meet Hemingway or Gertrude Stein, and the numerous writers, poets, painters, sculptors and hangers-on. I’d be the latter of course. In London, perhaps I’d be lucky enough to meet and interact with the Bloomsbury Group.
What is your favorite travel spot?
The Cote d’Azur in the South of France (between the old town of Nice, and then along the coast from Villefranche-sur-Mer to Cap-d’Ail). It is where the mountains and foothills of the Alpes Maritimes meet the sea. It is a place I always feel at home.
This book was extremely different from other books I have read. It fits into the fantasy genre, but it so much more than that.
In the book the world of Oceanlight is a parallel world to Earth. The two worlds have always been separated by an invisible barrier, but now this barrier is breaking down and Earth’s environmental problems are seeping into the world of Oceanlight.
Yalara Narika is a Sea Sprite, but she doesn’t really fit in with the rest of her clan. She is sent on a mission to discover what the deadly blue haze is that has appeared over part of the ocean.
Meanwhile, back in England, a teenager named Einion Morgan has struggles of his own to deal with. Einion has hemophilia and must be exceedingly careful not to get bumps or bruises. When he is pushed off a cliff by a mysterious man in a white suit, he nearly dies.
It is not long after this that Yalara comes through the barrier from Oceanlight and Earth. It turns out that Yalara and Einion are linked and it will be up to them to not only save themselves from an evil creature bent on their demise, but they are also Oceanlight’s only hope of survival.
The author has done an amazing job of world-building. His detailed descriptions of Oceanlight and the creatures that live there are so realistic that you almost start to wonder if Oceanlight is real and the author has visited it and come back to tell us about it in the guise of fiction.
Yalara (and the other Sea Sprites) ride on winged birds called Petrels. These petrels are raised by, and loyal to only a single sea sprite from the time of their hatching to the day they die. You can learn more about the birds and their special bonds with the Sea Sprites when you buy the book.
I was thrilled when I realized that one of the main characters had a disability. It is not often that one of the main characters in a book is disabled and this was a refreshing change. This book shows that even if you have a disability, you can do amazing things and I believe that is an important message and one that will resonate with a great number of people.
This book is also a warning to everyone on Earth about the dangers of environmental pollution. In this book humans are not only polluting their own world, but they are poisoning the world of Oceanlight as well (even if they aren’t aware of it). It demonstrates the harm that can be done to our environment and the consequences it can have for birds and other creatures.
Despite the serious themes that are found in THE SHARP END OF LIGHTNING, this book is not all doom and gloom. In fact, it is actually a hopeful book. There is hope that the pollution will end, and there is hope that the good in people will overcome the bad.
I give this book a rating of 5 out of 5 Stars. I highly recommend this book.
- I received a free copy of this book from iRead Book Tours in exchange for an honest review.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
NR Bates was born in London, grew up in Wales, and lived in Canada and Bermuda. He shares his life with his wife and his house with seven cats, one dog and the subtropical wildlife of lizards, wolf spiders and ant colonies that seek out a better life indoors.
He is an oceanographer and scientist, and has published more than one hundred and thirty scientific papers on ocean chemistry, climate change and ocean acidification. He is a Senior Scientist at the Bermuda Institute of Ocean Sciences and Professor of Ocean Biogeochemistry at the University of Southampton, UK.
His novels focus on epic fantasy and magic realism, and inspired by his deep love of the ocean and environmental sciences. He has also recently published a small book of short-stories set in Paris, entitled “The Fall of Icarus (The Elevator, The Fall of Icarus, and The Girl)”.
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