Otherbound is a novel with a very interesting concept. It’s a fantasy novel that follows two characters in two very different worlds: Nolan, who lives in our world, and Amara, who lives in a different world populated by magic, curses, and princesses. Both of their lives are hard for different reasons. Amara is forced, as a servant, to travel with a mage and a fugitive princess who is cursed. Her master is a hard and abusive man, whose motives remain unclear. Nolan’s life is complicated by the fact that he sees through Amara’s eyes whenever he closes his own. The people in his life believe he is having seizures when this happens, and these instances have also caused him to be physically impacted.
Overall, Otherbound had an intriguing concept. Nolan and Amara, though inextricably linked, are two very different characters. Nolan is juggling all the normal teenage stuff, along with his health issues. Amara is battling with stakes that are much higher than his, but her life still has parallels to ours in our “real” world. What I really appreciated about this book a lot was the diversity within the characters. Amara and Nolan both deal with physical differences, and there’s also an LGBT relationship that was nuanced and complex. In Nolan’s life, he has to deal constantly with how others treat him and interact with him due to his physical ailments, while Amara’s differences are so commonplace in her world that she doesn’t struggle with this aspect of disability as much. Instead, she has to grapple with how it impacts her life and causes fear about making any changes to her lot in life, since her differences still mark her as other and a servant. Watching her grow was the best character arc in the novel.
The story itself was rather slow-moving and the writing is not overly lyrical or beautiful. However, I was still very interested in what happened to Nolan and Amara, and I really wanted to discover where or how their connection came from/happened. While that was explained in the book, I wanted more to the explanation than was given. Duyvis had an opportunity to craft a really rich explanation, but it fell kind of flat. One thing I would be interested in hearing further from her, though, is more of the backstory of the piece’s villain. There’s got to be a story there!
Overall, Otherbound is a very interesting fantasy read. Amara and Nolan’s link was interesting and I really enjoyed getting to see both of their worlds. It was really awesome to see such diverse characters in fantasy, because I feel like that doesn’t happen a lot. I could’ve used some more world building around Amara’s world and also around how/why Nolan and Amara’s connection happened. While it could’ve gone deeper and moved a little faster, the novel was still a solid read, and I recommend it if you like fantasy and the premise intrigues you.
Rating: 3 out of 5 stars
What fantasy novels with diverse characters would you recommend??