Review: Soulbound-Return of the Elves, Book 1

By: Bethany Adams

Available on: Amazon and Audible.

Overview:

Blurb: After her mother’s death, Arlyn goes to find her father-on the other side of the Veil between our world and Moranaia. Her father is an elf lord, her cell phone is broken, and all of the Ren Faire garb she brought has her sticking out like a sore thumb. And that’s all before she accidentally meets her soulmate.

Trigger Warnings:

Ableism, Bastardization of Mythology, Blood, Bullying, Child Abuse, Death, Food, Gore, Infidelity, Murder, Off Screen Infidelity, Off Screen Sex, Physical Abuse, Plot Holes the Size of a Canadian Province, Racism, Sexism, Sex, Toxic Masculinity, Unsafe Sex, Violence, Violent Imagery, War

Body Count: 3

The Specs:

  • Series
    • Series Name: The Return of the Elves
    • Book Number: 1 of 6
  • Genre
    • Technical Genre: Romantic Fantasy, Metaphysical Fantasy, Dragons & Mythical Creatures Fantasy
    • Theo Genre: Fantasy, World Hopping, Metaphysical Fantasy
  • Page count: 387 pages
  • POV: 3rd
  • Publication information:
    • Publisher: Bethany Adams
    • Language: English
    • ISBN-13: 9780997532005
    • ASIN: B01E9O855O

Other Fun Stuff:

To Read or Not To Read (Again):

Donated, but I would read the rest of the series

Rating out of five: 3.0 out of 5

Representation, Morality, and Sexism Tests:

  • Bechdel–Wallace Test:
    • Purpose: to establish actual female characters that act independently of male characters in a story.
      • Do two female characters talk about something other than a male character?
    • Pass or Fail: Pass
  • DuVernay Test:
    • Purpose: to establish characters of color in a story.
      • Are there fully actualized characters of color?
    • Pass or Fail: Pass
  • Ellen Willis Test:
    • Purpose: to show balance in characters regardless of gender.
      • Would two related characters still work to carry the story if their genders were reversed?
    • Pass or Fail: Pass
  • Hays Code Test:
    • Purpose: to ignore outdated and queer-degrading/punishing standards that once were the standard for produced mass media.
    • Part One: outdated moral guidelines
      • Are there any outdated “moral content” rules gloriously kicked in the teeth by this story?
      • Are there people of color allowed a happy ending?
      • Is there an interracial couple?
      • Is there profanity used at all?
      • Is there one or more homicidal acts and/or murder?
    • Part Two: queer representation
      • Are there queer characters that get a happy ending?
      • Is there an illegal or otherwise distasteful age gap between characters, queer or otherwise?
      • Do the queer characters die tragically, violently, or at all?
    • Pass or Fail: Fail, centuries old elves are involved
  • Mako Mori Test:
    • Purpose: to assure that in the story there is at least one female character independent of a male character’s story.
      • Is there a female character?
      • Does she get her own arc?
      • Does it do anything other than serve to support a man’s story?
    • Pass or Fail: Pass
  • Sexy Lamp Test:
    • Purpose: to assure that a female character in the story serves as an active protagonist, not just a device to be used by the male main character.
      • Would the plot fall apart if the female character was replaced by a sexy looking lamp?
    • Post-It Note Caveat:
      • Would the character be able to be replaced by a Sexy Lamp with a sticky note on it for information conveyance?
    • Pass or Fail: Flaming Pass
  • Tauriel Test:
    • Purpose: to help support the existence of competent, independent female characters regardless of a romantic sub-plot.
      • Is there at least one woman in the story?
      • Is this woman competent in her chosen occupation and not immediately shown up by a newcomer male character?
      • If she has or develops a love interest during the story, either implied or explicitly stated, does she suddenly abandon her job and/or chosen path to support or pursue said love interest?
    • Pass or Fail: Pass
  • Vito Russo Test:
    • Purpose: to establish more characters that are on the SAGA (Sexuality And Gender Acceptance), QTPOC (Queer and Trans People of Color) or LGBTQIAP+ (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual/Biromantic/Bigender, Transgender, Queer/Genderqueer, Intersex, Asexual/Aromantic/Agender, Pansexual/Panromantic, and others not listed here) spectrum.
      • Is there a character on the queer spectrum?
      • Are they a character beyond their orientation?
      • Do they actually affect the plot?
      • Is the character something beyond a punchline?
    • Pass or Fail: Fail

Overall review:

Thoughts:

I gotta admit, the first chapter had me lost. There was no hook, just a plunk down in the middle of some enchanted, identified as not-Earth Other Place. That being said, I kept trying to read it on lunch. I like the author’s writing style but I feel like I’m reading a second draft, not a finished novel.

That being said, the writing and pacing did get better the further into the book I got.
I liked the idea of a half-human getting to romp around an elven world, even if someone was trying to kill her half the time. The fact that there are Seers in this world, but they are flawed as they are powerful is a good thing.
The smut was practically PG, but not to its detriment. The glowing during sex made me giggle a bit, I’ll admit. And the violence was a little unexpected, towards the end.
I’d read the rest of the series, when I manage to get around to it.

Was it engaging?

At times

Favorite Character:

Kai, even though he didn’t get much growth character-wise in this story.

Review format updated 10 June 2019

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