Kyra's Star Ratings:
Story: * * * *
Characters: * * *
Writing: * * * *
Emotional Engagement: * * *
In A Story of River, a traditional fantasy, elven and human lands are being attacked by an evil sorceror, and an unlikely band of human and elven allies seek the help of River, a powerful water elemental. I found the story enjoyable, and Ms. Axe's traditional fantasy world is charming. The writing is clear and well-crafted, with a minimum of errors (mainly some verb tense issues).
The parts with the antagonist, Ulda, were particularly interesting. He's deliciously nasty and ruthless, with a vivid personality and some really cool magic using gems and living souls. Other than these parts, though, I felt like the novel was just skimming the surface of the story. I would have liked to dig deeper into the minds, hearts, and personalities of the protagonists. There wasn't a lot other than name, position, and race (elf or human) to differentiate them, and the events of the story didn't seem to affect them very deeply. In particular, when one character died, it seemed to have only a brief and minimal impact on the other characters, even the ones who should have been devastated by that character's death. I as a reader was affected by the death of this character, who was one of the more vivid characters, and I was disappointed at the death's lack of impact on the story. In addition, I would have liked more physical description of the characters and their surroundings. A few details are given, but not enough to help me feel grounded in and surrounded by what is really a very charming and interesting fantasy world. I also would have liked to have more description of what the characters are experiencing physically as they go through their adventure, to engage my mind and senses more fully in the story. I wouldn't really consider these things to be faults in the novel; rather, they are ways in which a lot more could have been done with the novel to help it live up to its great potential.
Basically, what I'm getting at with this review is I enjoyed A Story of River and wanted more - not in length (the plot developed and resolved quite nicely and doesn't need to be longer) but in depth.
On the whole, A Story of River is an entertaining, nicely-written read, suitable for young teens through adults. I understand it's Ms. Axe's first novel, and I look forward to more books from her and to watching her development as an author.