Title: Dominion | Series: The Molly Stout Adventures #1 | Author: Shane Arbuthnott | Publisher: Orca Book Publishers | Pub. Date: 2017-2-1 | Pages: 312 | ISBN13: 9781459811171 | Genre: Middle Grade Fantasy | Language: English | Triggers: 1 instance of child abuse | Rating: 5 out of 5 | Source: Library
Molly grew up hearing the tales of Haviland Stout, her ancestor who discovered the dangerous magical spirits that inhabit the far corners of the world. Now, on the edge of the New World, in the British Dominion of Terra Nova, Molly and her family collect spirits aboard their airship, the Legerdemain.
But when Molly captures a spirit that can speak and claims to have been Haviland’s friend, her entire life is upended. What if everything she knows about the spirits, and her own history, is a lie? In her hunt for the truth, Molly will have to challenge the most powerful company in Terra Nova and find the courage to reshape her world.
I picked Dominion up after getting approved for an arc of the second book. I really need to start paying more attention to the details. I just get so caught up by awesome synopses that I forget to look for other details I need to know! Then, I end up scrambling to get the first book from the library and hoping that I like it. Sometimes this completely bites me in the buttocks, but luckily this time it did not.
Shane Arbuthnott gives us an interesting world in Dominion. He makes references to what we think of as normal things – London, automobiles, etc – but they’re far away – almost fairytales, really. He takes the familiar and skews it just enough to breathe fresh air into it – pardon the pun. Molly, the main character is wonderful. She’s tender-hearted and stubborn. She believes in doing the right thing, and while she isn’t afraid to go it alone, she’ll ask for help when she thinks she can get it. I found it a bit fun that this is actually considered a steampunk book, because the whole time I was reading it, the thought never popped into my head. However, as soon as I glanced at Goodreads, I was like “Oh. Well, yes, yes it was.” But really, when you’re reading it, it’s hard to classify as any one thing beyond just a good story.
I spent most of Dominion thinking it was a pretty good book. It was well-imagined, well-told, and written so that it could be interesting to adults or children. I had already mentally filed it into the “good but not particularly outstanding” category. Generally, by halfway through the book, I can tell how I’m going to end up rating something. It’s a rare book that changes my mind. Normally it’s because of an ending that just blows me away. However, that wasn’t the case with Dominion. Instead, it was one single page in this book that elevated it from good to great. Just one.
You see, Shane Arbuthnott, does something that it’s rare to see a writer do. He told a basic truth that so many of us, both kids and adults, need to learn. I’m going to put this in the simplest terms possible to avoid spoiling anything. He makes it clear to young readers that when someone hurts you, you can still love them without forgiving them. That you don’t have to accept abuse and you don’t have to ease the guilt of the person that hurt you. And, again, that you can love them anyways. I thought that was amazing. Just that one simple exchange made such an impact on me that I instantly boosted the rating of this book up from a 4 to a 5.
Overall, Dominion was a great read, and I can’t wait to dive into Terra Nova, the second book in the series. Shane Arbuthnott is a thoroughly talented and insightful writer. Dominion is definitely deserving of attention, whether it’s a middle grader reading it, or an adult. It’s a wonderful, imaginative tale that can sweep you away.
Buy Link: Amazon