Absence of Color: Spectrum of Color, Book One

Absence of Color had, at heart, an interesting premise. The deposed and scattered royal family of Mandalay can be recognised by a distinctive birthmark; and by their unique magical abilities. Violet/Frankie is an empath, able to see emotions as shades of colour. Darby can communicate with animals. Sophia can see the future. According to legend, these gifts are bestowed as necessary to help the kingdom. Author S. K. Wee demonstrates an imaginative twist on a classic fantasy plot, and it was definitely the redeeming point of the novel.

Unfortunately, beyond that, I found that the writing got repeatedly in the way of the story. Verb form errors and word repetition in sentences were the points that caught my attention out of the plot most often, but beyond the technical side, I found the incredible series of coincidences stretched my credulity, not least the renegade sea captain able to capture all the necessary resources to gather, arm, feed, and hide, an army and a navy—and then accidentally capture the one ship carrying his long-lost prince to lead them.

There is also an interesting dichotomy in character reactions. One of our teenaged heroes is raped by the bad guys in the opening chapters of the book, and he goes off on a mission of revenge. Multiple women are raped throughout the story, but they’re able to brush it off and don’t even need the services of a healer – their reaction, approximately, can be summarised as ‘after all, it happens a lot’. It seemed like a consistently implausible reaction that nagged at me through the book.

Overall, I came out of this story feeling that a strong developmental and copy edit, and a little more work on character depth, could really transform this book and allow it to live up to its full potential.

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