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On the edge of a mystical border called the Limen, close to a beautiful canal-laced city, a humble candlemaker rescues a child whom he raises as his apprentice.

Years pass and the child’s unusual talents are revealed, the gentle art of candlemaking slowly transforming into something far more sinister.

Lingering in the shadows, enemies watch and wait - a vengeful aristocrat, an exotic queen and the lethal creatures known only as the Morte Whisperers.

They hunger after the child’s ancient magic and will do anything to control it - betray, lie, manipulate. Even murder.

A story of intrigue, deadly magic and a love so deep it transcends life itself.

411 pages, Paperback

First published October 1, 2009

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Karen Brooks

14 books506 followers

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5 stars
206 (26%)
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271 (34%)
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181 (23%)
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75 (9%)
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44 (5%)
Displaying 1 - 30 of 70 reviews
Profile Image for Sarah (saz101).
192 reviews151 followers
May 4, 2012
Wow... I haven't had this little fun with a book in a long time.
Months ago I got three quarters of the way through Tallow, and couldn't make myself turn another page. I finally picked it up again and forced my way through the rest of it. It was unpleasant.

For the life of me I can't figure out why I didn't like Tallow. It's everything I normally love in a novel: mystery, intrigue, magic, and, of course, fantasy. It's well written enough, has an original setting, interesting characters, but I didn't enjoy reading it. It felt like a chore.

I enjoyed the side characters a lot more than I liked the main ones. The clearly evil queen (Zarina?) plotting in the background, and Giaconda (Giovanna? G-something-a?) were more interesting than Tallow or Pillar to me... As was Tallow's pet dog, Cane.

The cast are interestingly multi-faceted. Pillar and Katina seem like good guys... But are they really? Pillar, for all his seeming kindness is a slave to his apathy and lack of backbone, and Katina seems to be harboring secrets that could cause Tallow a world of trouble. The characters are actually convincing, flawed, and (for once in a fantasy novel) not entirely archetypes or cliches. They have their good and bad, and I appreciated the way they conducted themselves (true to character), and their reasoning. Whether it was love, depression, curiosity--they were well-rounded and convincingly motivated.

The characters are brilliant, painted in subtle shades of grey, artfully handled, and depicted uncompromisingly. The problem was I didn't find myself liking any of them.

The book takes an interesting approach to story telling, with narration divided between Tallow's first person POV, and third person narration following various other characters. It was fascinating, allowing Brooks to show us a lot more of the world while still giving an intimate personal account, yet I wonder if this wasn't half my problem. I'm also not sure I bought Tallow's first person POV as being a convincing voice, or one that I could relate to.

The story is set in a beautifully imagined fictional Venice called 'Serenissima', and the pages are littered with what I'll call 'italianisms'. Dottore (Doctor), Padre (Priest/Father), Vino (wine). It adds to the feeling of an alternate version of the beautiful Italian city... but it also bothered me. Is the book in english or not? Does this mean they speak English, littering a few Italian words throughout? I know it's me being petty, but it's another thing that I was constantly aware of, always pulling me back out of the narrative, and stopping me from being able to immerse myself in this gorgeously imagined world.

Tallow is a slow paced novel, and I found it downright stressful. The book also ends on what is clearly a series setup (the cover, saying 'Curse of the Bondriders, Book 1 ', alluded to the fact, too :P), which is fine by me, but I want some sort of satisfaction after slogging through 400 pages of watching the main character getting the sh*t kicked out of them (physically and emotionally, not to mention the long term psychological issues this is kid gonna end up with) in excruciating detail. There is no closure at the end of this story. I hate it when books do this to me. The book has promise, and I really want to see how the series pans out; I'm just not sure I could make myself read another of the series.

I wanted to like Tallow. I should have liked Tallow. But for some reason I still can't understand, I did not like Tallow.
It's well written, full of heart aching beauty and magic... but I had to force myself to finish it so I could justify the time I spent reading the first three quarters of it months ago.

So, Tallow? I'm sorry... It's not you. It's me.

Regardless of my particular experience with the novel, I'd definitely recommend it to fantasy fans, and not just fans of YA fantasy. Tallow is a good book. Just not my cup of tea.
Profile Image for Paula Weston.
Author 6 books850 followers
August 11, 2016
There’s been quite a bit of buzz in the Australian spec fic scene lately over the recent release of Tallow, the first book in Karen Brooks’ new fantasy series, The Curse of the Bond Riders.

Brooks is known in Australia as an academic, cultural commentator and young adult fantasy author. Tallow is her latest offering, and the first of her work I’ve read.

Set in a city very much like Renaissance Venice, the novel tells the story of Tallow, an orphaned child raised by a lowly candle-maker (hence the child’s name), who also happens to be the last surviving member of a mystical race long ago banished from the canal city.

The child becomes a teenager and latent talents are revealed, watched from the shadows by men and women who each need the child’s talents for their own ambiguous ends.

The candle-maker and his frequently violent mother go to suffocating lengths to hide Tallow’s true identity, with the resultant consequences often frustrating. But those consequences also create the ever-present tension that continues to build throughout the novel.

The key drivers of the plot aren’t particularly original – an abused and isolated orphan with hidden talents; an ancient mystical religion suppressed by a patriarchal religion; confusion caused by hidden identities – but Brooks manages to deliver them in a fresh and new way.

And while the historical elements and add texture to the story, it’s the fantasy world that provides the hook.

Brooks has a clear talent for weaving elements of traditional Venetian society and politics with the dark, multi-layered fantasy world she’s created. The writing is solid, the storytelling rich with interesting twists, and the mythology is cleverly influenced by not only history, but also the Italian language itself.

Brooks offers several points of view from various narrative characters, which helps keep track of the increasingly layered plot. (Although, Tallow’s changing point of view is occasionally distracting – sometimes first person, sometimes third).

By the end of the first book, Tallow’s world has been turned upside down, and a series of clever twists makes it hard for the young orphan to tell friend from foe.

Much happens in this first book, which ends with a twist that sets the scene for an intriguing second book, assumedly due out this year.
Profile Image for Pat K.
620 reviews7 followers
November 17, 2019
I really wanted to finish this book, I got to 50% but I just couldn't finish. I didn't like or engage with any of the characters. I usually love fantasy an I'm more than willing to suspend disbelief, but the world building fell short for me and I just didn't get what the world or the story was on about.
3 reviews
November 23, 2010
I liked the concelpt of this book, I felt it had real potential! But after slugging through page after page of making candles and how they change your life, I could not bring myself to finish it. All though I don't agree with leaving a book unfinished I couldn't bring myself to continue reading as it was a total bore. However, this is only my opinion, it is not the sort of book I would usually read, and only decided to read it as it was highly recommended. I, however have no interest in reading the process of making candles and practicing an art which is technically illegal and disgraces those you love.
1 review1 follower
April 26, 2010
What a great story. The characters were very believable and the historical fantasy atmosphere of Venice and the canals inspired me to find out more about the culture of this time and setting.
Profile Image for Helen.
869 reviews2 followers
December 1, 2020
Abandoned at 60+% Couldn't continue with the audio.
Profile Image for Paulette.
16 reviews2 followers
September 6, 2015
Tallow is an Estrattore - someone who can extract emotions from or distill them into, a person or object. She is believed to be the last surviving Estrattore and the key to a prophesy that says she will free her kind. Yes free her kind, even though she's believed to be the last one.. so I guess she can't be.

Bond riders are humans, or more precisely ex-humans, who have pledged themselves to something or some cause in exchange for their lives. Their souls get split and they become kind of immortal in that they can rejuvenate themselves by crossing into the Limen - a kind of mystical border where non human thingy's dwell and time doesn't exist - so that they don't age, but they can still be killed while in the normal world, .....I think?

Estrattore's were once free until a new king decided they were heretics and started killing them off in the name of religion around three hundred years ago.

A Bondrider discovers baby Tallow hidden inside the Limen and dies trying to keep her from these Morte Whisperer thingy's (it's not made clear what they are) but not before he crosses through the Limen into the temporal world and handballs her to Pillar, a kind but weak bloke in his forties who still lives with his hateful drunk of a mum who bashes Tallow all the time for no good reason.

Tallow grows up hiding from the world, pretending she is a boy. She manages to remain a nice person despite the fact that those around her are either cruel and small minded or really nice but too pathetic to stand up for her.

She gets to around 14yrs without knowing what she is but when her powers start to really kick in and she gets bashed up a lot by the drunk mum for making weird things happen, she starts to put two and two together.

Then one day she is discovered by a Bondrider who trains her to understand and control her powers. Finally someone nice who's also tough enough to look out for her. But for some unknown reason the Bondrider stays away from the Limen so long that she ends up at deaths door and Tallow and Pillar have to put themselves in potentially grave danger to get her back to safety... At least that's how it was built up, in the end there was nothing to it. Anyway, the only positive role model in Tallows life is gone.. (Her twin brother was the one who saved baby Tallow and he was "consumed by time" and died when he crossed over but none of the other Bondriders seem to be in such danger so the whole crossing over thing is seemingly only dangerous if it's convenient to the plot).

Add in a power hungry queen with an evil agenda, some nobiles (not a spelling mistake) who have fallen from grace and see Tallow as their ticket back to the big time, a Bondrider Council with unclear but doubtful motives where Tallow is concerned, an entire populous with an unaccountably vicious mob mentality and you've got the depressing tale of Tallows' miserable existence, heavily loaded with weak or hateful characters written especially, it seems, to appeal to the minds of our young adult population.

That's not entirely true. There is one slither of hope for Tallow's happiness. One friend who doesn't have a selfish agenda. A cool guy who's suffering from sexual confusion because he can't tell she's really a girl, poor thing. But then he (((. ))). Oh well, I'm sure he'll be (((. ))).

The writing - I thought the author couldn't decide whether to write in first or third person, so she switched between them from one chapter to the next. I personally found it off putting and I truly thought it was a weird oversight but I've since been informed that it was the authors narrative choice. It's like some nosy, random nobody swoops in uninvited to narrate what Tallows' perfectly capable of saying herself. Most off putting.

In Summation. Tallow and friends are not strong enough or likeable enough to counterbalance the overwhelming shittiness of everyone and everything else in this miserable world so what's the point? This is a bleak read.

Finally. The world building was cool, original and imaginative and it was full of promise but there were holes. When you're inventing a whole new world, the reader can't be expected to have assumed knowledge, we need a solid underlying framework for the fantasy to flourish in our minds. There were mentions of beasties and ghoulies and magiks and such that had me flicking back through the pages going 'wha'?
2 reviews
May 9, 2021
Love love love this book. Read it as a kid and was so consumed
Profile Image for Kat at Book Thingo.
265 reviews98 followers
February 18, 2010
I give props to Karen Brooks’s imagination. I love the idea of candlewax imbued with magic, which is released when lit. The book is set in Serenissima or old world Venice, and it’s always refreshing to read a fantasy novel with an unusual setting. It’s a world of artisans, political intrigues and superstitions into which Brooks weaves a story of magic, prophesies and immortal beings.

I know this is my personal reading bias coming through, but by the end of the book I felt that Brooks laid on a little more anguish than was necessary for Tallow. It could be that forthcoming books will provide more balance, but I was left very much unsatisfied by Tallow’s ending. The book is first in a series, and there isn’t much of an attempt to tie up loose ends.

Tallow is one of those books I find very difficult to evaluate. I struggled to keep my interest for most of the first half of the book, yet I couldn’t put it down from page 200 onwards. Brooks shows flashes of the kind of lyrical prose I love in my fantasy novels, and the world of Serenissima was something new and exciting for me. I think some of the issues I had with Brooks’s writing stem from being an adult reading a book targeted towards children and young adults, who I think may well be enchanted by this new series.

For a more detailed review, see Book Thingo.
Profile Image for Shelley.
21 reviews
December 4, 2011
This is the first book I've never finished. I started reading it like a year ago and thought I'd put it down for a little while and come back to it later. But I couldn't bring myself to do it. I have this thing that I hate not finishing books because I think that maybe the rest will be better and I will actually like the book in the end. But I decided not to pick it back up in the end because there are books out there that I'll enjoy reading a lot more than this one. I'm really disappointed though because I thought from the blurb that this book would become one of my favourites. But I just couldn't get into the story. It was maybe a tad bit too bizarre for me. But of course, this is only my opinion and you should definitely give the book a read and make your own judgement on it :)
Profile Image for Tracey.
103 reviews
November 10, 2012
I persevered and unfortunately it wasn't that great. It clearly states that it is a part of a series but it didn't offer any resolutions or any great progress in the story whatsoever. Several characters motivations weren't really made clear and so I couldn't really get in to the story line. Not a series I will be continuing with, and thats saying someething.
Profile Image for Alissa.
181 reviews1 follower
April 9, 2011
This one kind of went no where for a while, then got interesting in the second half, and then ended on a abrupt cliffhanger, which annoyed me. Even books that are part of a series can at least wrap things up a little instead of ending in the middle of an interesting part.
Profile Image for Annabelle Amber.
40 reviews
October 5, 2011
Ugh.
This is one of those books I literally had to bully myself into keeping on reading it.
:(
It took me nearly two weeks to read it! Two weeks!
D:
I respect that others found it immensely entertaining, but I have not been so bored with a book since Drowned Wednesday.
Profile Image for Paula.
31 reviews
June 4, 2014
I didn't finish this book I got a 3rd of the way through and hated it. Not much more I can say, it was unpleasant and I felt very depressed thinking it was going to be a great historical nov r l but it let me down.
Profile Image for Liz.
310 reviews34 followers
January 3, 2017
didn't necessarily 'give up' on reading it, but got about half way and had to return it... that was 2 years ago.. interesting, but not high on my list to read in order to finish.
304 reviews3 followers
July 8, 2012
Loved it & am looking forward to Votive.
Profile Image for Carolyne.
77 reviews
October 17, 2012
I did not really enjoy this book, the begining I though that it was alright though by the time I was halfway through the book I had totally lost interest in it.
December 17, 2017
I enjoyed listening to this book, but I can easily say at the end there was zero point of me reading it. Nothing really happens. From the sounds of it, all the exciting things happen in the next book.
This book was mainly following our MC, Tallow while she/he stumbled about the place making the same mistakes over and over again, while she/he maintained her crazy optimistic POV.
There was also an interesting make-out scene towards the end. When I say interesting, I mean THE WORST MAKE OUT SCENE I HAVE EVER READ. Impressive really, I've read some truly terrible ones.
Profile Image for ArrianeReads.
242 reviews1 follower
December 27, 2022
This has been on my tbr since 2011. Finally got around to reading it and honestly, it was a little underwhelming. I just feel like the stakes weren't very high, and throughout it I just felt… 'meh'. The interweaving plotlines didn't feel fully realised or even all that interesting and the writing was simple. It wasn't by any means a terrible book, just plain. Will I read the sequel? Maybe; we'll see how I feel in the new year.
Profile Image for KB Eliza.
6 reviews
September 2, 2021
Loved this series, this authors ability to collide dystopian adventure with such clarity and realism makes a feast for the mind. Fell in love with the characters and will never think of candles or Venice the same again. Magical and enchanting- an all time favourite!
October 3, 2022
Gave up on it. Didn’t grab me. I have read Karen Brooks in the past and really enjoyed her books but this one felt more like a teen read. Quite flat.
Profile Image for James Paull.
Author 1 book4 followers
December 29, 2020
Majestic and stylish novel - breathtakingly beautiful writing, captivating characters and intrigue abounds! This is just how I like my fantasy served!
Profile Image for Mery.
Author 38 books208 followers
December 12, 2011
Ih suka suka suka banget buku ini...

Awalnya cerita udah suram. Dan karena ini fantasi murni, jadi detaiiiillll banget diceritainnya.
Mana nama-nama tokohnya susah-susah, nama kaumnya juga susah-susah. Tapi kereeeen.

Ada anak cowok 15 tahun, namanya Tallow. Dia dirawat dari bayi oleh seseorang bernama Pillar. Pillar ini pembuat lilin. Dan dari kecil Tallow udah diajarin cara buat lilin.
Tapi hidup Tallow sengsara, karena dia bukan anak Pillar, jd kalo keluar rumah dia mesti nunduk, ga boleh menatap siapa pun. Apalagi ibunya Pillar, Quinn tuh sebel banget ama Tallow, hampir tiap hari Tallow disiksa dia. Alasannya cuma satu, karena lilin yang dibuat Tallow tuh bagus banget.

Aneh kan? Kok lilin bagus malah disiksa. Justruuuu itu. Tallow baru 15 tahun, tapi lilin bikinannya udah kayak ahli aja. Kalo dijual, lilinnya bisa nimbulin kecurigaan. Pillar dan Quinn ga mau orang-orang penasaran sama Tallow. Terlebih karena mata Tallow.

Pokoknya si Tallow ini misterius deh. Asalnya dari mana juga ga ada yang tahu. Lalu suatu hari ada wanita asing yang mencari seorang anak cewek. Tallow yang kebetulan ngedenger itu langsung kabur. Kenapa hayoo? :D


Nah jadi, 15 tahun lalu, ada salah satu Bond Rider, bond rider ini semacam orang-orang yang terikat dengan sumpah gitu. Nama orang ini Filipo, dia menunggang kudanya sambil membawa seorang bayi, menuju perbatasan Limen. Intinya dia harus menyelamatkan bayi itu dari kejaran Morte Whisperer--pelayan kematian, pengisap jiwa. Maka dia kasih bayi itu ke Pillar. Bayi itu Tallow.

Tallow, tumbuh menjadi bocah laki-laki pemalu. Sering disiksa Quinn, dan dimaki-maki. Ada satu kata yang sempet dia dengar dan terpatri diingatannya: Estrattore. Maka dia memberanikan diri tanya ke Pillar apa arti Estrattore itu.... Tapi pastinya Pillar ga mau dong jawab apaan. Tapi Tallow mengancam... akhirnya Pillar cuma jawab, "tatap mata saya" <--- kayak Rommy Rafael ya :))

Jeng jeng.... bukan sihir bukan magic, si Pillar sama sekali ga terhipnosis... justru jiwanya malah kesedot... Jadi pas mata perak Tallow natap Pillar, dia bisa melihat tembus ke jiwanya Pillar. Melihat dan merasakan ketakutan2nnya, masa kecilnya, kesusahannya, dll. Maka dari itu, Tallow mengerti, bahwa Estrattore bukanlah siapa atau apa. Melainkan Estrattore adalah dirinya sendiri.

Pokoknya seru.....

Terus Tallow dilatih gitu buat jadi Estrattore mahir. Karena ternyata selain bisa tembus jiwa seseorang, Estrattore juga bisa tembus ke jiwa benda mati. Benda mati kan ga punya jiwa, mer? Iyaaaa tahu. Tapi itu kan kata kita, buktinya Tallow bisa kok tembus ke jiwa-jiwa benda mati. Dan uniknya, Estrattore itu bisa mengubah apa-apa yang ada di dalam jiwa orang yang disentuh sambil ditatapnya itu...

Itulah bahayanya, makanya Tallow mesti bersembunyi supaya ga ada orang jahat yang manfaatin dia.


Lalu mengenai judul, aku sempet mikir, kenapa judulnya Curse of The Bond Riders? bukan curse of estrattore? :D

Nah di buku dijelasin kalau para bond rider ini adalah orang2 yang mengikat jiwa mereka pada sumpah. Sumpahnya dengan darah, kayak kalau ngejual jiwa ke iblis gitu... Banyak banget bond rider yang bersumpah dan jiwanya terkurung di semacam batu lempeng gitu.

Filipo dan adiknya Katina, mengikat jiwa mereka ke Estrattore... yaitu Tallow.


Ah pokoknya baca, seru....
Profile Image for Emily Wrayburn.
Author 5 books39 followers
August 21, 2016
Review originally posted on A Keyboard and an Open Mind 22 August, 2016:

While this book definitely felt like a series opener, and a set-up for bigger things to come later, the setting and characterisation were both fresh and original and drew me in completely.

Tallow has grown up as a candle maker’s apprentice in Serenissima, a place we now know as Venice. Her strange eyes have always bothered people, but it’s not until a stranger shows up at their door that she learns she is one of the last Estrattore, a race able to extract and distill the feelings of those around them, and who were exiled and killed by the Church hundreds of years before. Under Katina’s tutelage, she begins to learn how to control her power, but she soon also learns that even using her powers for what she perceives to be good can have dire consequences.

The world-building is definitely the highlight of this book, and the books that follow. It is rich and sensual and makes the reader feel like they are really there, too. The descriptions of the various regions of Serenissima, the canals, Carnivale, etc, were all vivid. Italian language is peppered throughout the story, which also served to remind us where we were.

Tallow is a well-constructed character. She is eager to please, eager to help and horrified by the attention she begins receiving when people start attributing certain things to her (“his” – she is disguised as a boy for the majority of the book) candles. Her guardians, Pillar, the candle-maker, and his mother, Quinn, are also very thoroughly characterised, though I never especially warmed to any of them. Katina is really the only Bond Rider we meet in this book, and she makes a very good mentor for Tallow, and her world-weariness comes across well, too.

There is a bit of romance in the novel, and I actually enjoyed it a lot more than I usually do in YA books. I think this is because it is actually realistic – Tallow and Dante meet by chance, and there is no “I laid eyes on him and immediately knew he was the One/special/whatever else”. Instead, they continue to spend time together and slowly fall in love, though neither acts on it until right at the end, because Tallow is worried about revealing her powers to Dante, and Dante thinks Tallow is a boy.

There are also several subplots, including one with some Venetian nobles who go on to play a larger part later on in the series, and also with a queen of Farrow Fair (somewhere in Albion; on the audio book, she’s read with a French accent so I’m not exactly sure where she’s supposed to be from), who is also on the lookout for an Estrattore. The problem was, these characters were visited so infrequently that I tended to forget their side plots even existed when I wasn’t following them. They also made the book a lot more drawn out than it needed to be, especially as they were both being set up to play larger parts in the later books, rather than actively having much of an effect on the events of this book.

In spite of all that, the world and main characters did win me over and I had the next book downloaded before I had even reached the ending of this one.
Profile Image for TheCosyDragon.
938 reviews9 followers
October 15, 2012
This review has been crossposted from my blog at The Cosy Dragon . Please head there for more in-depth reviews by me, which appear on a timely schedule.

There's something about Tallow that sets him apart from other children. His luminescent eyes mark him as a extractor - but what does that mean for him and his family? When the plague comes, will he be able to combat it?

For the first few moments of the prologue, the reader can feel a little confused about what is happening. It's not immediately clear what a Bond Rider is (nor do we find out until much later the significance of this) or what the mists are doing. It's a racy start that gets you interested in the book, and determined to press on.

There are so many hidden things in this novel that I can't tell you about! It makes it rather hard to review actually, but the book is so good you'll want to read it anyway. I promise! This book isn't a waste of time, and you will really find yourself enjoying it if you have found that the majority of my reviews cover the same sort of things that you felt about the books.

I can see such a difference between the writing of Brooks and some of the other novels I have seen lately. Brooks does a large amount of work, on linguistics I believe, and it shows through. So too does the research she has done to present a semi-realistic interpretation of Renaissance Venice.

The language is easy to understand, you don't get confused about who is speaking to whom, and the various plot lines are effortlessly entwined. It's amazing how much has been packed into this book with all the intrigues that are going on, but at the same time they fit together into a seamless whole.

I have been holding off for what seems like months to read these books again. Originally my partner got Tallow from the bookstore he worked at as a uncorrected bound sample, even though the book had been released properly by then. I then had to wait until Votive and Illumination came out, which took forever!!! I enjoyed Tallow so much the first time, I knew I'd want to read the whole trilogy in succession. I got Illumination for my birthday, and so I thought it was high time to read them. Also, I wanted to read something I knew I would enjoy after a run of crappy books that I have won or had on tour.

I would recommend this novel firmly for older teens, and possibly also adults who like an easy read. There are elements of sex (not gratuitous) and also some violence and deaths, but nothing too shocking or uncomfortable. There is a hint of homosexuality, but it's not what the two 'boys' think it is!
205 reviews34 followers
May 26, 2010
Who doesn't love an epic fantasy tale? In particular one full of mystery, magic and intrigue. I do that's for sure. It must have been my lucky day when I found Tallow among the new arrivals at my local library as I was drawn to it by its interesting cover art. A single candle being extinguished the smoke rising against a dark background; I do love an interesting cover that is for sure. I was drawn in from the first word until the very last after actually opening the book. I will admit that the blurb also drew me in as a reader, carefully worded to ensure that there was no possible way I could not read this.

The premise itself is highly original, Tallow, a young candle makers apprentice finds himself, or should I say herself in a spot of trouble when the candles she produces appear to produce some rather strange results when burnt. She lives under the impression that she is male, taught to never look anyone in the village in the eyes, as he guardians Pillar and his somewhat abusive mother Quinn have taught her to do in order to hide her eyes. Pure silver, reflecting the surfaces which she gazes upon. The eyes that would reveal her as an Estrattore, the Estrattore of legend. Able to sense and absorb emotions and feelings the curse she is forced to bear daily.

That is under Katina appears one evening, a Bond Rider bound to ensure Tallow's safety and that she is able to master the basics of her skill so that one day she may in fact be able to live up to the prophecy written long before her birth. But Katina, Pillar, Quinn and Tallow are not the only ones who know of her skills and in a world that hunts, banishes and fears the Estrattore, Tallow is no longer safe. Tallow takes place in what could only be described as a perfect setting. It is fitting for the story and once you have your bearings it complements the story perfectly, making it everything a fantasy fiction novel should be.

Tallow is an incredibly interesting and unique addition to my fantasy fiction collection, the writing is superb and describes what Tallow is able to sense and feel so wonderfully it feels as though you yourself an feeling such things. I particularly loved Tallow's friendship with Dante it was particularly heart-warming and at times infuriating. Sometimes you wish she could tell him that she is not in fact a male as he believes. It’s almost maddening. Of course, I’ll be waiting patiently for the second book, which is sure to shed some light on many of my questions.

4 Stars.
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for Matilda Mayfair.
32 reviews
June 14, 2016
On the edge of a mystical border called the Limen, close to a beautiful canal-laced city, a humble candlemaker rescues a child, whom he raises as his apprentice. Years pass and the child's unusual talents are revealed, the gentle art of candlemaking slowly transforming into something far more sinister. Lingering in the shadows, enemies watch and wait ? a vengeful aristocrat, an exotic queen and the lethal creatures known only a the Morte Whisperers. They hunger after the child's ancient magic and will do anything to control it ? betray, lie, manipulate. Even murder. A story of intrigue, deadly magic and a love so deep it transcends life itself.

I quite enjoyed Tallow, read by Eloise Oxer. It took me a little while to adapt to the reader's voice but as the novel progressed, I really came to appreciate the lilting differences that made the story seem more vibrant and real. Her pronunciation of Italian and the dialect used between the characters was a godsend because they aren't words that I'm familiar with speaking and that too, added dimension to the story.

One thing that put me off Tallow was the early stages of the story where Brooks consistently switches between first and third person to tell the story. I found it very disconcerting to be hearing Tallow's thoughts and voice about what was going on around her, only to revert back to watching from a window again. It seemed somewhat fragmented and threw me off from the story somewhat, I firmly believe that it should have been a third person perspective for the entire duration. It was prominent enough that I questioned the point of it as well.

I felt the end of the story was cut short, which I suppose is a given since it's the first in a series, but I didn't feel like there was a proper cliffhanger that left me with anticipation as to what will happen next. I am very intrigued to know the outcome of Tallow's journey and what will befall her next, and at the end of the day, I do consider Tallow to be an excellent read.
Profile Image for Nicole .
35 reviews
May 16, 2011
**One minor spoiler**

I loved Brooks for creating such a political and complicated world building.

The setting for the story is in La Serenissima, a beautiful canal-laced city that is kinda like Renaissance Italy.
14 year old Tallow, a candle maker's apprentice, is an Estrattore: someone who extracts human emotions and puts them into use. However, years ago, they were hunted down and killed, so that makes Tallow very valuable to others and the Morte Whisperers, ghoul-like creatures who takes people's souls. Tallow, now must hide her identity (she passes herself to people as a boy) and not anyone find her secret.

I think it's a good book. The world building was something I have not heard of yet, and Estrattores are a fascinating type of humans, as extracting emotions is something i don't read in books. Tallow, for me, comes across as someone who just wants a place in the world, even if doing so means being submissive to other people. I mean, she's only fourteen years old, and she has to bear the burden of being a 'savior' for her kind. I also like Tallow and Dante, her friend's relationship. I won't elaborate, but i did find myself surprised at them.

The Morte Whisperers ACTUALLY is a threat. Someone you don't want to mess with.

But, sometimes I was confused with her writing. It's like the narratives switches from first to third person. Though I got used to it. This is also another slow book. I was bored by it at times because nothing much happens at the first half. However at the second part I couldn't tear myself away from this.

All in all, a good book to read if you want subtle romances and a cool world-building.
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