Sunday, April 8, 2012

Book Review: CONCEALED

This is actually going to be a really easy review for me to write because I basically have the words I need to say MEMORIZED. I've read lots of reviews on Sang Kromah's debut novel, and several of them have summed up the novel in a single word like "unique," "magical," or I even saw in one, "brilliant."

Me? I don't think I have a word or phrase that can quite describe it. Reading CONCEALED often made me feel like I was being whispered to, and though there is definitely room for improvement as the series develops, it's those lingering whispers that make me happy to have picked up this book. I like hearing good stories, and I think you do, too.

I think a HUGE factor in what makes or breaks a book for any particular reader is the reading experience itself. If I'm in the right mood for a particular book, at the right time, and it's by the right author, I find myself extremely forgiving, and eerily enthusiastic about any and every thing about it.

Such was the case with CONCEALED. I stumbled across this bijou at a time when I really needed something... I don't know... adventurous. I'd been looking over something for a friend of mine, and I wanted to read something that was already in print, but similar to the concept of the manuscript we were tug-of-warring with... And lo and behold... CONCEALED. And  I was excited! At first. But it was WEIRD because I could've SWORN that, the day before, there was nothing on the market like his story so I was spooked, but ready to roll.

That was the first time I read the book, but the second time was just over a week ago shortly after a package came from TLT Publishing. They'd sent over a copy of the book! I was ecstatic and freaking out about Finals and again--- perfect timing. I devoured this 370 something paged gem in three? Maybe four days if you count the amount of time I spent in the wee hours of the "fourth" morning...

So my experience with this story has always been pleasant and YES. This is why I was able to gloss over a lot of its misdemeanors. Truthfully, it could've gone through another round of edits not for content, but for technicalities. There were passages of dialogue I wish I could've altered. There were paragraphs that, if moved around, might've made a scene flow better and words that were made adverbs when they were meant to be adjectives... there were misprints and nuances that would be glimpsed over by careless readers, but caught by the close reader. And Elsewhere, you know I'm a close reader. I like to get the most out of every story I read--- consume every single character, even down to the punctuation...

And it wasn't clean. It wasn't MESSY, but chances are, some of the mistakes will jump out at you. But, Reader, don't let them deter you. I can say that the world in which the CONCEALED universe is set is actually pretty wonderful. It is reminiscent of the tales of old--- the ones you might imagine hearing around a fire in a tribal village, or over a hot cup of cocoa with an elderly storyteller as your sole source of entertainment on "a dark and stormy night..." It's not clean, but it's not messy. It is clear that Sang Kromah KNOWS what she wants from this series, from her characters, and that she wants to make a connection with her readers through the art that preserves the human race: the telling and exchanging of stories.

I'd like to think of CONCEALED as a gateway for Sang who is an obviously talented writer and a not-so-undercover romantic that thinks BIG. The ideas in this story... the characters she's crafted... the stories that work their way through the text in a skeletal manner, like bones... the relationships, both romantic, and unromantic... They're the things I'll be looking for again in the next installment of this series. But I also have hopes that the next story will be even BETTER both in form, in delivery, and of course, in terms of the stakes. Although wow. This book went from a fight for normalcy to a fight for--- Well, if I said for Narnia, would you believe me? Probably not. So I guess you'll have to read the book for yourself in order to know what for and to read the super cool ending that no... not even I saw coming. You can find it at your local Barnes and Nobles, now, so seriously, what are you waiting for? The sequel? Right... me too.

My hope is that you'll fall in love with Sykesville, Maryland and the mythology Sang has crafted around the Concealed. I recommend this to those of you looking for a mystery with a romantic and paranormal emphasis. Because, at its core, CONCEALED challenges us to ask the question who is Bijou? Who can she trust? And it also asks us to wonder if knowing where you come from can compensate for or give value to knowing who you are. Yes. This book has hidden gems, mon amies! Do yourselves a favor; go dig them out.

Concealed Blurb from Goodreads:

When 16-year-old Bijou Fitzroy and her nomadic grandmother leave New York City to live in a home in the sleepy town of Sykesville, Maryland, Bijou thinks she will finally be able to live a normal life and be like everyone else. Things soon take a turn for the worse when the stories of the mythical creatures from her mythology class begin to take shape in Bijou's life.

Want more Sang Kromah? Click one.


  1. Guess I have to add another book to my Must Read list. Thanks a lot Des XP Haha.

  2. Sounds enticing! I'll add it to my list of books to read! :D
    I also have a tendency to be a bit of a close reader. Occasionally, I'll lean back and just kind of go with the flow. (It's a bad habit of mine, since I don't really understand the story in the end a lot of the time, and then I'll be confused while reading the sequel.)
    Either way, I'll probably check this book out soon! Thanks for the recommendation Desi!

  3. Mwah, I love your review of Concealed!! I completely agree with everything you said. Personally I feel it would have turned out even better if a more thorough editing had been done (Like you said!) And also, it kinda annoyed me how there were sometimes unnecessary capitalised letters in the dialogue where italics would have done more use. Also, I kinda felt as if some of the events that occurred in the book were too overwhelming, and it would have been better if perhaps they were saved off for the next book.
    But one things for sure--I enjoyed the nail-biting conclusion, and I can't wait for more! And for our sakes, let's hope the next books got the editing bit smoothed over :)
    xox, lots of love, Maya


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