Blessing and Curse

Acrabha Stone Book 1

Young Adult - Fantasy - Epic
346 Pages
Reviewed on 11/05/2019
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Author Biography

J. Elias Epp was born in Kansas and lives there now. He spent many days of his childhood brainstorming and acting out adventures with his brother Samuel. It’s a universe that still captures his imagination today and one he works to share with others.

    Book Review

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.

Lit Amri

As an Ara-Eran teen in the town of Edge, Rylen is an outcast due to the war that claimed so many Gwyanians' lives in the past, even though he was never part of it. Raised by Hyrestl, a tough and aloof Telamian, Rylen helps his guardian run an inn in town. Longing for acceptance, he thinks about his real family whom he never met, hoping to find out about his true identity in his birthplace, Ara-Era. Unknown to the teen, Hyrestl himself is yearning to return home to his family. However, a mysterious curse ties him down and keeps him near Rylen. Their fate drastically changes as powerful individuals start searching for a treasure known as the King’s Desire. Blessing and Curse is the first book in the Acrabha Stone series by J. Elias Epp.

Even though it took me a while to familiarize myself with the world-building of the story, the premise of J. Elias Epp’s Blessing and Curse is definitely intriguing. Different races with distinct attributes and customs, including my favorite fantasy beasts, the dragons, populate Epp's fantasy world. The characters have considerable depth; Rylen is easy to root for but the mystery of his true identity makes me wonder if he's truly innocent. Hyrestl is quite a complex character to figure out, particularly regarding his curse and the way he treats Rylen. There is still a lot more to be revealed and I find several characters' roles in the plot are quite vague such as Rylen's friend, Leyla, as well as Toamla and his dragon, Kegol. Nevertheless, this is an interesting Book 1 of the Acrabha Stone series.

K.C. Finn

Blessing and Curse is a work of fantasy fiction penned for young adults and was written by author J. Elias Epp. The first book in the Acrabha Stone series, this adventurous novel begins at the end of a war between the Gwyanians and the Ara-Eran. In a world of deep unrest and mistrust, Rylen is Ara-Eran, but living amongst those who perceive him as an enemy. Guarded by Hyrestl, who has curses and false identities of his own to maintain, Rylen desires nothing more than to know his real homeland and the family that might lie within it. But when powerful enemies seek Rylen out for a treasure he doesn’t seem to know anything about, getting his wish might just be more than Rylen bargained for.

This teen sword and sorcery tale, suitable for both young adult and adult readers, works really well as a first novel to set up the fantasy world in which Rylen’s adventures and his coming of age will take place. Author J. Elias Epp puts a lot into the worldbuilding of two great nations at war, filling that world with kings and lords and mystical figures who all have some agenda at the end of a war that didn’t seem to end the true unrest of its people. Against this well-developed atmosphere, Rylen’s growth is slow but sure as he comes to understand his reality better. Overall, Blessing and Curse is well worth a read for fantasy fans and holds great promise for a stunning future series.