By Dorothy A. Winsor
Published on: September 28, 2019
Although the characters are 15-years old and can be seen as a teen/young adult novel, The Wind Reader also feels like it would work well in the middle grade category too. With captivating characters, suspense, and ethical and moral dilemmas, I found this to be a very nice fantasy read.
Stuck in a city far from home, street kid Doniver fakes telling fortunes so he can earn a few coins to feed himself and his friends. Then the divine Powers smile on him when he accidentally delivers a true prediction for the prince.
Concerned about rumors of treason, the prince demands that Doniver use his “magic” to prevent harm from coming to the king, and so Doniver is taken–dragged?–into the castle to be the royal fortune teller.
Now Doniver must decide where the boundaries of honor lie, as he struggles to work convincing magic, fend off whoever is trying to shut him up, and stop an assassin, assuming he can even figure out who the would-be assassin is. All he wants is to survive long enough to go home to the Uplands, but it’s starting to look as if that might be too much to ask.
There is an ease of writing in this story that was noticeable from the start and made it so easy to enjoy.
Doniver and his father are sailing to Marketon to sell timber from Doniver’s land that he had inherited. Suddenly an unexpected illness occurs that can’t be contained leaving Doniver stranded in a city without money, his father, and no way to get back. Wanting to keep his honor – something his father instilled in him – Doniver tries various means to earn money legitimately with no real consistency. Finally, he gives in and with the help of a fellow street urchin he tries his hand at being a Wind Reader (fortune teller, of sorts). Except something goes horribly wrong – the prediction comes true or perhaps the prince read more into it than Doniver had actually said. Either way, the prince wants him to live in the castle to help identify a potential threat to his father, the King.
Wind Reading is done using a basket that has parts of it open for the wind to blow through, stirring the small papers inside. The small papers help tell your fortune to the Wind Reader, who reads it back to you. Some individuals potentially have this gift, but most do not. Doniver definitely does not, so he has to learn how to pick up on clues relating to the person requesting the reading or who they are with. Another character, Jarka, is able to help him with this and teaches him how to notice certain things, which serves him well when having to read for the prince.
Doniver’s honor, or honor that his father instilled in him, is one of the reoccurring themes within the story – one that he has to either overcome or work through. Making people believe he can read the future doesn’t sit well with Doniver and he struggles with this and other lies throughout the story. However, this honor does play a positive role in other choices he makes too – sometimes causing a rift between him and a friend, or protecting the kingdom even when he knows it is at his own expense.
As part of the story there are some very difficult topics addressed in this book. Death, poverty, survival, just to name a few. Once Doniver is all alone with no money and no loved ones nearby, I grew a little worried about how this part of Doniver’s story would be written. I was concerned the narrative would take a darker turn showing what it takes to survive on the streets that often leaves me unsettled when reading. While these topics are addressed, such as only having enough money for that day’s food, or where they might sleep, or even what may be expected of a girl in these situations, the author never provides the reader with too dark of a picture. In my opinion, not taking the darker turn helped the pacing stay consistent and helped the plot continue to move forward, so in the end I was rather grateful at the author’s choice.
Overall, I found this an enjoyable read with an ending that left me feeling very satisfied. I can always tell I’m really enjoying a book when I continue to think about the characters even after I’ve put the book down and this was one of those times.
Thanks to the author for a reader’s copy and opportunity to provide an honest review.