The Mahk are a breed of workers brought to life by the Creators, already fully-developed. They mine for obsidian (for a purpose that is not explained) in exchange for meager food rations, and they live in the labyrinths surrounding Simul's castle, fighting and killing each other for their food. Araina is a Mahk who came into existence only two years ago but who resembles a seventeen-year-old girl. She lives in a secret spot in the Labyrinth with only Blue, a large bird with blue feathers, for company. One day Araina witnesses a man in white shimmer through the labyrinth wall, and she follows him to Simul's castle to seek answers. This is the beginning of an extraordinary adventure, as Araina and some new-found friends struggle to find their way back to the wall. But will they find something better on the other side of the labyrinth wall?
This is a totally engrossing book; however, too many sentences begin with dependent clauses. As the book progresses, either this stops, or I stopped noticing as I became more involved in the narrative. Darith's colloquial speech is annoying, especially as it is so different to the formal tone set by the author and the precise language of Araina and the rest of the Mahk. (I'm hoping Darith's speech variation may become relevant in a later book.) The story is also a bit repetitive, and there is too much introspection from Araina (but I thought the same of Katniss in The Hunger Games
; interestingly, the author cites Suzanne Collins as one of her influences).
Despite these flaws, this is an action-packed adventure, full of interesting characters, thrilling encounters, and the all-important quest. The author has created an imaginative land full of horrors: hunger, discomfort, hard work, Mahk killing Mahk for food, the cannibalistic Nabal in the Blood Caves, the Darktouch flowers that can turn you to stone, hidden booby traps, the Rotting Pass with its poisonous mist and saber-tooth mutts, the dog-like Sir Riddles, a lava-spewing volcano, the giant snake-like Buyu, and the remorseless Creators themselves. Some scenes are quite gruesome, making this unsuitable for younger readers.
While this episode is complete, further adventures in the labyrinth will follow. I look forward to reading them.
I received this book in return for an honest review.
Full blog post: http://booksdirectonline.blogspot.com/2015/04/the-labyrinth-wall-by-emilyann-girdner.html