Sapphire Hunting, by J SenGupta: A Review

sapphire huntingJames is a math/physics student at an unnamed university somewhere in England. He’s likely a genius, or at least a savant; concepts, equations and theories of energy flow come easily to him; he likes the challenge but knows he can find the solutions. Other facets of university life are less attractive, but he’s coping.

But it’s not just the theoretical concepts of energy flow that James understands almost intuitively and without effort. There are other sorts of energy flow, a flux of darkness, destruction, focusing in on his world, something James can sense, something perhaps attracted to him. Others know only the frightening results of this dark power; James is caught up in its forces. Trying to escape, yet strangely attracted to this force, James steps through a doorway into another world, to find he is not alone in his fight against this dark vortex.

Sapphire Hunting is not a typical young adult fantasy novel. Written in a detached, dream-like style, bordering on prose poetry, Sapphire Hunting demands a lot of its readers. Action is fairly minimal; descriptions are long and lyrical, focusing on feelings, emotions, impressions, mood: “…a spark discharged from his forefingers, like winter, into the mantis-shaped thing, the fog, the flying rags looming over.” The words flow and pattern like the energy that fascinates and focuses James.

I read Sapphire Hunting in small chunks, both because it demanded close attention and because I wanted to draw out the experience. The closest other reading experience I can remember was that of reading Joyce’s Ulysses. So, for a reader who is looking for a book where the focus is on the action and the plot, one that reflects others in its genre, this may not be the book for you. But it is one whose imagery and language will stay with me for a very long time.

Did I have any niggles? One or two….there were sentences, that, despite their overall beauty, I would have restructured, changed the punctuation. There were one or two small typos. Neither issue detracted from my overall impression. Is it a young adult book? I wonder: probably for a few – I would have swallowed it whole at fourteen or fifteen – but it might be better directed to the New Adult readership. Five stars for a unusual and memorable book.

The author provided me with a copy of the book in exchange for an honest review.

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