Monday 11 July 2016

Book Review: The Silver Child by Nancy Norbeck

Last Updated: 21 June 2021

The Silver Child by Nancy Norbeck book cover

AD* | Maia Starfield is on the run, having successfully hidden her ability to create silver just by singing - until government thugs arrived to take her away. Her mother sent her out the door just in time, giving her only one piece of advice: Find Dr Martus.

Albert Martus has no idea why Maia was sent to find him - the doctor who delivered her 17 years ago. But from the moment she turns up, his story becomes intertwined with hers... as it has been since before she was born.

Follow this unlikely team as they discover the truth about the past and their present, the regime known as the Brotherhood, and the magical and ordinary power they each carry deep inside.

After a run of reading children's books, Nancy Norbeck's The Silver Child came as a welcome change and variety in my reading diet. It's a YA story - an intriguing blend of sci-fi, dystopia, and fantasy.
Norbeck said she originally got the idea for the novel from a one-sentence writing prompt - "The baby had been born with..." - as her first thought to fill in the gap was 'a silver spoon'. In itself, I think that's a really interesting idea. I'm always fascinated by the origins of common but quirky phrases like this, and the fact that Norbeck has managed to craft an entire book from that one phrase is great.


Another thing I really liked about this book was the religious and mythological angles to it. On the surface, Maia's world is similar to our own, though her cities are governed by the sinister Brotherhood. It was refreshing that the necessary religious exposition wasn't info-dumped on us right from the start, as this has a tendency to happen in dystopian fiction where the author feels the need to categorically introduce the reader to every different aspect of their world from the start. Instead, Norbeck drip-feeds us snippets of information bit by bit, so we slowly begin to find out more about the Gods and the legend of the Silver Child, learning more as we progress further through the story.

At the end of the day, this story boils down to the age-old fight of good versus evil - the rebels versus the Brotherhood. But it's the constant reminder of the religious legends, which are continually referenced and therefore constantly in the back of the reader's minds, which makes it stand out. Maia is special and she has a unique gift, there's no doubt about that, but she isn't defined by that gift. Even upon learning of her destiny as the Silver Child, there's no self-importance or snobbishness about her - she's the same person she always was, and I respect that.

Progressive Character Arc

Doctor Martus, on the other hand, undergoes a complete change of character. When we first meet him, he likes to keep himself to himself and does his best to stay out of harm's way. Then, without giving away any spoilers, a series of events happen which cause him to change his entire outlook on life. Martus is definitely the person with the biggest character arc in the entire book, which is interesting as he isn't the main character.

Again without giving things away, the plot follows the natural progressive arc you'd expect from the genre. It may be a little slow-going at times, but I'd urge you to stick with it because things definitely get going in the second half of the novel. Plus the final part of the book, where everything comes to a head, features some really well-written scenes. Norbeck manages to marry action, chaos and dread with that horribly tense feeling of waiting - it's very well done.

Rating: 3.5 stars

The Silver Child is available to buy now. For more information, visit Nancy's website or follow her on Twitter.

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* I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review 

Will you be reading the book? Let me know in the comments below!

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