Blog Tour: Below

It’s my turn on the FFBC blog tour for this wonderful book! Thank you the author and Wolf Publishing for an e-ARC in exchange for my honest opinion. Huge thanks to the Fantastic Flying Book Club for inviting me to take part in this blog tour.

Published by Wolf Publishing
Cover Illustration: Faryn Hughes
Publication Date: 4th February 2020
Young Adult, Dark Fantasy

This is an absolute stunning, intense and painful story which had me gripped from the beginning, leading me on a journey which both chilled and warmed me … the writing is powerful, poetic and unrelenting.  Based on Inuit mythology, this is a story that both fascinated and challenged me.

Apaay loses her younger sister, Eska, on the day her face is stolen by the feared Demon, known as the Face-Stealer, leaving her lost and without an identify.  Apaay resolves to find the Demon and reclaim Eska’s face, and so begins the most incredible redemptive quest, borne out of love, guilt and family loyalty which takes Eska through the harsh landscape of the North to the labyrinthine world of the in-between to face the most terrible captor who plays the cruellest games.  Yuki plays to win, but will Apaay have the strength and resolve to beat the master at her own game?  Will she stop allowing herself to be defined by what others think of her and find the strength to be wholly herself?

I was blown away by the depth of this narrative:  the intricate plot developments, the rich complexity of the world-building but, most of all, by the honesty of the characterisation which took me on a rollercoaster of emotions throughout the story so that, even now, I am trying to justify my emotional response to Yuki; my mixed feelings towards the Face-Stealer; but, what I have no doubt of, is that I am in awe at the strength and courage shown by Apaay.   

Yuki, who appears as a young girl, exudes negative emotions and is a whirlwind of cruelty, jealousy, pain, hatred and loss.  She craves love, but has been so emotionally damaged by events in her past that she is unable to show kindness towards others. 

Apaay is an incredible young girl who completely captured my heart.  At times, I found her treatment unbearable, but was then in awe of how she handled everything that was thrown at her.  Her strength lies in her love of family and friendships; in her ability to recognise and accept herself even through her self-doubt and guilt; and in her fierce loyalty and love which allows her to survive despite heart-breaking pain. 

The battle of wills, and struggle for control, between Yuki and Apaay is masterfully portrayed and kept me both eagerly anticipating their next meeting, but also dreading its outcome …

For me, the Face-Stealer, Numiak, is a real enigma and I have such mixed feelings towards him.  He is locked in an endless battle with Yuki, committing heinous acts against innocent people at her behest.  That should be enough to make me detest him, but there is more to him and, I must admit, I found his story arc fascinating, and my reaction to him was so divided.  I had no difficulty in compartmentalising my feelings for Yuki into the ‘hate her’ category, but I couldn’t quite get there with … I definitely struggled with how he created a dichotomy of feelings within me, but maybe that is exactly what is intended.

This is an incredibly powerful story which completely enthralled me, and definitely makes me want to follow Apaay on the next part of her journey.

Alexandria Warwick

Alexandria Warwick is the #1 fan of Avatar: The Last Airbender. She is the author of The Demon Race and the upcoming North series.





6 thoughts on “Blog Tour: Below

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