Five star reviews — The Enchanted Castle (Shioni of Sheba #1) by Marc Secchia

Posted by Shannon Haddock on October 9, 2014 in Reviews |

Welcome to the new feature I promised a few days ago.  Every threeish weeks (I have a rough schedule for my posts, but I’m not letting myself make it a straight-jacket) I will be posting a review for a book I have given five stars to.  Some of these will be books I received free copies of to review, others will just be books that I read.

This first one was one I decided to read and review based on the first few pages of the Kindle sample.  In just a few pages, the author had mesmerized me with his language use and the setting.

Here’s the summary of the book, via Goodreads:


“A king bent on conquest.
A murderous warrior tribe.
And the slave-girl who dares to stand between them!

Shioni of Sheba: The Enchanted Castle is the first book in a unique African fantasy series set in the ancient Kingdom of Sheba and is written for middle grades/secondary school reading age.

“A cracking story which catches the imagination…” “I was enthralled, each character came alive off the page”

When Shioni, slave to the Princess of Sheba, travels to the legendary Simien Mountains of Ethiopia, she encounters adventure beyond her wildest dreams. Little does she imagine the powerful forces lurking in this jagged volcanic wilderness; forces that could tear the Kingdom of Sheba apart.

Kalcha, the Wasabi leader, has prepared a deadly trap, an evil sorcery rooted within the castle the King has chosen for his fortress. Kalcha is massing her warriors and her giant hyenas, intent on annihilating the Sheban forces.

As the Wasabi attack it is left to Shioni to show the way with courage and the conviction of her heart. Can she overcome the wrath of a lion, outwit the treacherous Captain Dabir, and defuse General Getu’s inexplicable hatred? With the help of her friends Mama Nomuula, Princess Annakiya, and the fiuri Azurelle, Shioni must uncover the hidden secrets of the Enchanted Castle before Kalcha destroys all she holds dear.

Experience the myth and magic of ancient Sheba in this truly African adventure. Includes original illustrations by the Ethiopian artist Senait.”

And my review, which now strikes me as a little light on content, but oh well.  I don’t feel like rewriting it at the moment:

“This book was wonderful. I loved the characters, especially Shioni and Mama Nomuula. The only character I didn’t particularly care for was the villain who seemed a little too over-the-top. It had some of the best similes I’ve ever read, like “Fears like vultures began to encircle her courage.” and “eyes had fairly popped out of their heads, like a snail’s eyes on stalks.” And the illustrations were very nice.

It was not, however, perfect. The pacing was uneven, at times moving along at a nice clip and at others dragging, and that Shioni is mistreated and disliked by some is shown often enough that it got a bit annoying that it kept being told too. So maybe it should be more like 4.5 stars, but since that’s not possible, I’m still giving it five.”

I would probably literally kill to be able to come up with similes like this author sprinkled throughout the book.  I read it months ago and that’s what I remember most clearly.

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