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Reviewed by Christian Sia for Readers' Favorite
Blessing and Curse is the opening book in the Acrabha Stone series by J. Elias Epp, an epic fantasy with an irresistible appeal for young adult readers. The novel has a very strong premise. Rylen has never known his family and he will do anything to find out who his real family is. He has been raised by Hyrestl, a man with a mysterious past who struggles with his own destiny. He is a cursed man who is deadly with his sword and he has vowed to have his revenge on whoever is responsible for the curse. Rylen doesn't know that he has a great inheritance and there are enemies working hard to have it before he is even aware of its existence. Will he be able to find the truth about his family and protect what is legitimately his and can Hyrestl find ultimate freedom?
The plot has so many surprises for readers. Here is a tale of magic, featuring richly developed characters, each troubled by the need to know and the struggle to embrace their destiny. The character treatment is impeccable but it is the imaginative nature of the plot that kept me turning the pages. The conflict develops and grows at different levels: psychological, moral, and physical. I wanted to know more about these characters from the moment I met them in the story. There is great suspense as the reader reads on, wanting to know if the protagonist will meet his real family some day and curious about what will happen in the relationship between the key characters. The story builds up steadily with tension and readers are introduced to a conflict that involves compelling characters, priestesses, lords, thieves, and many others. At the heart of the conflict is the mystery of the stone. Blessing and Curse is a deftly written story with interesting characters, a strong plot, and elegant prose.