Book Title: Tribal Affairs by Matt Dallmann
Category: YA Fiction, 277 pages
Publisher: Matt Dallmann
Release date: July 2017
Tour dates: August 6 to 24, 2018
Content Rating: G (No bad language or sex)
Dahlia, a centuries-old genie, lies hopelessly trapped in a damaged golden locket charm attached to an ankle bracelet. Its owner, sixteen-year-old Liana, wears it for the first time during her father Jamison’s opening night illusion spectacular. Not only does its presence cause Jamison to folly his performance, but it also starts a chain of bizarre events that lead to a showdown with Dahlia’s mortal enemy, Stefan, and an unsuspecting romance between Liana and his son.
To follow the tour and read reviews, please visit Matt Dallmann’s page on iRead Book Tours.
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I won the paperback of this book in a competition I entered because I was intrigued by the idea of a story involving genies. The tale starts with Dahlia, a genie trapped inside a locket. Unsuspecting Liana wears the locket around her ankle, as did her now deceased mother.
When Liana starts seeing a mischievous young lad nobody else can see, both she and her father worry she is falling mentally ill, just like her mother.
But Taffi isn’t a figment of her imagination; he’s a genie. I won’t go into any spoilers here, suffice it to say the story revolves around Liana and Taffi’s fledgling relationship, and an ages old rivalry between genie tribes – hence the title.
This is a YA book, so a clean read, and the characters are vividly brought to life. They engaged me well, helping me read all the way to the end despite a pretty large issue I had with the writing (more below). The plot draws you along at a fast pace, and Dallman has an excellent knack of writing in such a visual manner (unsurprising for someone with a background in films) you can easily picture what is going on, and all the wonderfully imaginative, colourful settings.
So, the writing. For me, there was a huge issue over point of view. The story begins with Dahlia, even though she is trapped and pretty much out of contact with the outside world. It then follows Liana. The problem is, the viewpoint narrator swaps randomly from Liana, to Dahlia, to Taffi, sometimes even within the same sentence! I found it confusing and unsettling, and pretty distracting. Later on, to compound the issue, yet more points of view from other characters are added as well.
I was also frustrated by a couple of loose threads that I found distressing: Liana and Taffi ride a horse through a magical stage prop into the ocean, and while Liana magics herself and Taffi onto a boat, there is no mention of what happens to the poor horse. And later on, Liana attacks a young boy (case of mistaken identity) and renders him unconscious. Although she feels guilty about what she’s done, we never hear anything more about what happens to him after we see him lying senseless at her feet.
Please don’t leave me dangling! This reader wants to know what happened to horse and boy.
Perhaps these things wouldn’t bother a regular YA reader, all I can say is, they bothered me. Not enough to make me drop the book, but enough to say I’d hesitate to read another book by this author unless I knew I wasn’t going to find the same sort of things in it.
Recommendation – if head-hopping doesn’t worry you, then go right ahead – the story and characters are worth it. I just wish I’d found it an easier read.