Book Review: Soulmaker by Nadine Cooke

Soulmaker, Nadine Cooke, 2012. 

$2.99 USD (Smashwords ebook)

$11.99 USD (Amazon)

It seems fitting that with the Australian publishing and bookselling industry discussing ebooks and self publishing over at Isobelle Carmody’s Greylands launch site, I should read and review an up and coming Australian author’s self published ebook.

Normally I detest self published books. My friend loves the 99c Amazon ones for the train and the quality authors for hard copies but I find myself noticing too many editing mistakes, or weird structural decisions or stereotypical characters or cliched writing etc which detracts from my enjoyment of the book. I only agreed on this book because Cooke is a local writer and because I knew she had rewritten her manuscript multiple times and had some good feedback from some Australian publishers.

Nadine’s first book, Soulmaker, tells the story of 15 year old Ashden and 13 year old Elanora; two misfit teens drawn into the mysterious Timefold in order to give toys a second chance at life. The first book in a slated trilogy, Soulmaker flicks between these two characters perspectives, with Elanora getting stuck in time, and Ashden trying to enlist his old teacher to try and rescue her. Aimed at Year 6 readers and older, the story is well written, doesn’t fall into the telling rather than showing trap, has sympathetic characters and strong imagery. All positive reasons to take a punt on a first time, self published author.

I do have some caveats. The story did head hop between characters. The Final Destination/Christian allegory was very obvious and will really rub some people up the wrong way, especially those who criticised C. S Lewis for utilising the sledgehammer in his Narnia books, and the character arc of Elanora is left very ambiguous. She aged quite a bit, very fast, and we miss out on seeing her character growth. This did irritate me but I am assured by the author that this comes in Book 2 so fingers crossed.

Story structure and sledgehammer theme concerns aside, Soulmaker is a different, original fantasy concept, rooted in a very strong sense of Australian place and culture. I will watch this author with interest. I have a suspicion it is only a small matter of time before a publisher picks her up.

Soulmaker: 2.5/5 inky stars (I reccomend buying the ebook to see if you like the author’s style and then buy hard copies on book 2’s release if you like what you read)

A proof copy of the book was supplied to InkAshlings by the author. You can purchase Soulmaker from Cooke’s website here:

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