Reviewed by Timea Barabas
Breaking into the world of fantasy with a meaningful contribution is not an easy task, but Aaron Safronoff managed to do just that with Sunborn Rising: Beneath the Fall. Actually, this is only the first book of the series and it’s the key to the gates of a magically fresh universe. This YA fantasy thriller is but a part of the Sunborn Rising experience, which stretches far beyond the colorful pages of the book.
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A world that bares a slight resemblance to ours is on the verge of darkness. At the center of all there is a sun floating in an ocean and this is the spring of life for the floating tree islands covering the planet. But there is a disturbance in the flow of life and the world is at risk of falling into darkness. Salvation is uncertain and in the paws of the most unlikely of heroes.
Our main guides to this world are Barra – a young Listlespur, a catlike humanoid – along with her two best friends Plicks – a Kolalabat, resembling a bat – and Tory – a Rugosik, a puppet like humanoid. Barra starts out by wanting to learn more about her deceased father and so she sneaks into his study and finds his hidden journal. But his writings not only strengthens the father-daughter bond, but also propels Barra and her friends on the adventure of their lives. They learn that their existence is threatened by darkness and driven by curiosity they set out to explore the uncharted territories of the Middens surrounding their Loft. But things do not go exactly as planned and they fall from the comfort of their leafy bows to the muddy root. There a new unfamiliar world unfolds before them, filled with dangers, enemies but also allies and wonders. But now they struggle to find their path to the Loft and also to bring back the light to their home.
The Sunborn Rising series is clearly aimed at a younger audience, so the occasionally simplistic narrative serves its purpose. The black and white pages are sprinkled with colorful images vividly portraying scenes from the magical realm. Actually, these pictures are a valuable support for the imagination of the reader, as some creatures and plants are quite different from our reality.
In fact, Aaron Safronoff did a lot more than just start a fantasy book series; he set the grounds for a complex Sunborn Rising experience. So, the readers can also immerse themselves in music and art. But more dimensions are about to be added. Games and animated media are in the development stage. One thing is for sure, there is a lot to explore and even more to come.