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The Heretic's Guide to Homecoming: Book One: Theory

4.57  ·  Rating details ·  51 ratings  ·  25 reviews

“Life is transformation. You change or you die.”

Ashamed of his past and overwhelmed by his future, Ronoah Genoveffa Elizzi-denna Pilanovani feels too small for his own name. After a graceless exit from his homeland in the Acharrioni desert, his anxiety has sabotaged every attempt a
Kindle Edition, 448 pages
Published April 25th 2018 by Molewhale Press
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4.57  · 
Rating details
 ·  51 ratings  ·  25 reviews

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I think I just found one of my most favorite books of all time.

Even if the novel didn't remind me of Cat Valente's best writing, with all its poetry couched in prose, the way the stories within stories kinda blows me away.

But you know what really speaks to me the most?

This novel is about awe. Hope. Regaining spirit, driving forward your dreams, fighting anxiety, and finding wonder.

Quite aside from that, the novel has a truly delicious and deep worldbuilding that is matched or perhaps overmatch
Avi Silver
It feels a little like cheating to review this book, so I'll make it brief: I married her so she would be contractually obligated to show me all of her drafts for book two.
Cass Meehan
Aug 08, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book is absolutely fantastic in every way. It was the first book I picked up in a long while, having fallen a bit out of my love of reading due to school, work, and life in general, and it revived my passion for reading in the most magical way. This is largely because this world Sienna has built reaches beyond the bound pages here and into the stories and world-building of The Shale Project, but also working your way into your own brain, asking yourself deeper questions, and wanting more fr ...more
Reader Views
Jan 12, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Reviewed by Keshia Mcclantoc for Reader Views (1/19)

“The Heretic’s Guide to Homecoming” is the first in what proves to be a promising series for Sienna Tristen. This story follows the boy, whose name seems larger than life, Ronoah Genoveffa Elizzi-denna Pilanovani, as he leaves him home and looks for a path of redemption. From there, he meets the adventurous Reilin and together they take a journey full of magic, challenges, and strange and wonderful creatures amuck. As Ronoah recounts the epic j
Spenser Chicoine
Apr 25, 2018 rated it it was amazing
“The Heretic’s Guide to Homecoming: Theory” is a marvelous journey that left me the reader feeling, much like the story’s main character, privileged to have been allowed along as part of it. The story begins with our main character Ronoah alone far from home; unsure of both where he is going next, and everything that has brought him this far. Conversation with an enchantingly mysterious stranger escalates to an invitation on a journey across the continent to the holy Pilgrim State. The narrativ ...more
Cameron Currie
Jul 26, 2018 rated it it was amazing
First off, let me say that if you're looking for a typical first-attempt-of-the-author book, this ain't it. I was constantly surprised, pleasantly, with the philosophical insight, complex use of language and depth of character development. Fantasy normally lurks in the action hack-and-slash area, and in fairness, when you've read about one seven-foot tall barbarian with a broadsword, you've read about them all. Tristen goes to great lengths to throw the bedrock of the genre out the window in fav ...more
Apr 26, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I received an advance copy of The Heretic’s Guide to Homecoming in exchange for an honest review.

Sienna Tristen’s debut novel is incredible. From the first chapter, Tristen establishes the importance of storytelling that permeates the entire work, often interrupting the main story for a chapter akin to a fable, or fairytale, woven in to the narrative. These extra tales teach the main characters, and the readers, important lessons or give insight and background into the actions of each character.
Brianna Tosswill
Aug 13, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I received an advance copy of The Heretic’s Guide to Homecoming in exchange for an honest review.

I read the first half of this book intermittently over about a month, and I read the second half in a single Saturday. My favourite kind of reading is short story anthologies by a single author; you get little wrapped up reading snacks all in a unified style, which is less effort to process than a variety of authors in a single anthology. The Heretic's Guide to Homecoming is a hybrid of a short story
Jack Duff
Apr 25, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Simply beautiful and relevant prose about unexpectedly close-to-the-heart topics. Empathetic humanistic fantasy, you’ve met your next champion! Sit down with a mug of tea for the spellbinding story and characters you wish you could talk to in real life - keep reading long after the tea is gone for the spellbinding stories those characters tell, and the characters THEY wish they could talk to in real life.
Carisa Catherine
Apr 25, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I think I have to finally resign myself to the fact that I will never be able to be as eloquent as Tristen, and just write my review of this book honestly, regardless of the outcome, so here goes.

This book has got to be one of my favourite books of all time. All. Time.

Heretic's Guide To Homecoming: Book One starts off as a slow burn but has quite the payoff. By the time the reader is coming into the story, our main protagonist Ronoah (Genoveffa Elizzi-denna Pilanovani -- trust me these names ar
Aug 16, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This book is so very near and dear to my heart. The writing is so clear, so vivid and poignant, flush with emotional depth and psychological insight. I’ve never felt so in touch with a protagonist before. Ronoah invites the reader into his head and his heart, and we’re all the better for it.
Apr 28, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites, queer-lit
I received an Advanced Reader's Copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

The Heretic's Guide to Homecoming is a stunning debut novel by Sienna Tristen that sets a high bar for the Shale project, and promises that the expectations will be met in later instalments. With masterful prose, Tristen weaves a rich universe that filled me with the same yearning for new experiences that the main character, Ronoah, struggles to realize through the course of the story. For such a slow burn – painf
Apr 26, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: my-library
I received an advance copy of The Heretic’s Guide to Homecoming in exchange for an honest review.

“Be clever. Be brave. Rebel against inertia.” Have you ever read a book in which the main character so resembled yourself that you felt the author must have spied on you? This is that book for me. Ronoah Genoveffa Elizzi-denna Pilanovani may feel too small for his name, but this book is the perfect fit for me.
In a world that is wonderfully constructed, Ronoah’s journey is one that all lovers of fant
Irene Zhong
Sep 22, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Sonny Duan
Apr 25, 2018 rated it really liked it
I received an Advanced Reader’s Copy of this book.

“The Heretic’s Guide to Homecoming” is a book about young Ronoah, who left his home in disgrace, and his journey towards self-acceptance, knowledge, and a far-away land. This was the first book that I had read in a while, and it was well worth it. I deeply connected with Ronoah, the main character, in his nervousness, his fears, and his inner voice. I enjoyed this book more and more as I continued reading it.
Sienna Tristen is exceptionally skille
Billy Buttons
Sep 15, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This book was entered in The Wishing Shelf Book Awards. This is what our readers thought:
Title: The Heretic's Guide to Homecoming: Book One: Theory
Author: Sienna Tristen

Star Rating: 5 Stars
Number of Readers: 19
Editing: 9/10
Writing Style: 10/10
Content: 9/10
Cover: 8/10
Of the 19 readers:
18 would read another book by this author.
15 thought the cover was good or excellent.
16 felt it was easy to follow.
19 would recommend this story to another reader to try.
Of all the readers, 6 felt the author’s
Neil Hughes
May 17, 2019 rated it it was amazing
When I was a kid, I used to read books over and over, but Heretic's Guide to Homecoming is the first book I've read twice in MANY years.

On the first read it took time to understand that the important journey in this story wasn't the external cross-continental trek, but the internal development of the main character, Ronoah. As a reader I was emotionally carried on that journey, feeling all the frustration with him that he feels himself. At times, I longed to reach into the book and physically he
Jordan Stal
Mar 18, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Being a busy individual, being able to pick up a book and sit down to read for hours at a time was a lost art to me. But after picking up this one, it was like riding a bike; one never really forgets. I sat down and devoured the book in short order. It gives a very unique insight to the mind of Ronoah who even at the best of times is forced to ask the “what if’s” and hypotheticals. The satisfaction I would feel when Ronoah finally amassed the ability to stand up for himself was almost a pinch fo ...more
Jun 27, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I absolutely loved Heretic's Guide! The writing throughout the book was very immersive and added on to the emotions I felt for the characters as they progressed through the story. For instance, the scene with Ronoah deciding if he would let himself talk to other people in the first chapter, if he would let himself connect with others as he was in a new and foreign place. This brought me back to how I felt when moving to a new school and having to introduce myself to other people once again. Some ...more
Aug 20, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I think, this book has changed my life. Or at least I hope it will. I can’t even count how many times I refused to get up to get a tissue because I couldn’t read anymore through the tears welling up in my eyes. It felt like Ronoahs journey is describing so much of my own struggles and all the time described so incredibly on point and empathetic. I don’t even have words for how I feel.
This is an incredible story and I am incredibly thankful that I got the chance to read it.

Also, I’m not a native
Nov 14, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This book was one hell'ova emotional roller coaster that takes you down paths of discovery in both the written world and your own.

The main plot itself will whisk you away to take you on the adventure following our main characters. Within the story there's more lore, tales, and history to drag you into this mysterious world you crave to know more of.

This novel is a story of self-discovery, and the discovery of self-worth.

Highly recommended for anyone looking to lose themselves in another world
Jan 23, 2019 rated it really liked it
Beautiful writing. Very character-driven; the main character's introspection is obsessive and takes up most of the book.
Feb 26, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
I finished reading The Heretic's Guide to Homecoming in February of this year, and it's honestly taken me this long to actually write a review because I simply don't know where to start with how much I loved this book.

The Heretic's Guide is an installment in the Shale Project, described via their website as a "multimedia storytelling initiative roughly in the shape of a planet". I don't know exactly how I found it, but I first blogged about it here, in June 2018. Queue me signing up for the Shal
Apr 28, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This book is astounding. It is a deeply refreshing change from other books in the fantasy genre. Sienna Tristen is doing groundbreaking work.

First, the characters!! So brilliantly crafted and full of life. Ronoah is so real, so tangible and full of true human emotions that I often found myself thinking of him as one of my friends. His apparent struggles with anxiety make up one of the central conflicts of the novel. I'm not sure if I buy into bibliotherapy, but if I did, I would be pressing cop
Vikram Nijhawan
rated it liked it
May 19, 2019
Heather Lillard
rated it it was amazing
Apr 28, 2019
Nick Calow
Feb 09, 2019 rated it it was amazing
“Life is transformation. You change or you die.”
I read this novel once, and it changed a lot of things for me. But I didn't think I had the true measure of it yet, so I waited a bit and read it again. This novel for me is a powerful, anxious, annoying, painful, joyous, timely, and prescient guide to life though personal changes and growing up to see the wisdom in whatever surrounds you.
I realized something, somewhere between the first and second readthroughs. Ronoah and Reilin are two separat
Cass Meehan
rated it it was amazing
Aug 08, 2018
rated it it was amazing
Feb 17, 2019
rated it it was amazing
Jun 10, 2018
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Sienna Tristen is a writer and artist based out of Toronto. She is the author of The Heretic's Guide to Homecoming, the flagship fantasy story of The Shale Project, and her first work of poetry, The Insomniac's Assistant , is available through Penrose Press. A purveyor of many skills and talents, she can also lead a yoga class, play you a tune on violin, speak to you in three and a half languages ...more
“Right," Reilin said, and Ronoah looked up at him because his voice had changed again and suddenly it sounded clear and young, hushed with breathless anticipation. It made his own heart kick in a way that made him more excited than nauseous. The man rolled his broad shoulders in their sockets, gathering the reins in his hands. He was staring intent at the horizon, the blue canvas of the eastern sky, the rip and rupture of the sun. His face was unreadable, sort of like a question and sort of like an answer and sort of like a challenge and yet none of those things at all. "Off we go, into the glorious unknown.” 1 likes
“Be clever. Be brave. Rebel against inertia.” 0 likes
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