Monday, February 12, 2018

Tour Review/Giveaway!! Of Sea and Stone, by Kate Avery Ellison

Welcome to the Of Sea and Stone
Blog Tour, sponsored by 
YA Bound Book Tours!!

For my stop, I'm featuring a review!
There's also a tour-wide giveaway!

Of Sea and Stone
(Secrets of Itlantis, Book 1)
Kate Avery Ellison
Digital Edition, 260 pages
Kate Avery Ellison, First Edition
February 2, 2014
Fantasy, Romance, Science Fiction,
Young Adult

All her life, clever Aemi has been a slave in the Village of the Rocks, a place where the sea and sky meet. She’s heard the stories about the fabled People of the Sea, a people who possess unimaginable technology who live below the waves in the dark, secret places of the ocean. But she never dreamed those stories were true.

When a ship emerges from the ocean and men burn her village, Aemi is captured, and enslaved below the waves in Itlantis, a world filled with ancient cities of glass and metal, floating gardens, and wondrous devices that seem to work magic. To make matters worse, her village nemesis, the stuck-up mayor’s son Nol, was captured with her, and they are made servants in the same household beneath the sea.

I purchased the Kindle Edition of this novel, and am genuinely enthusiastic about it, so much so that I intend to purchase the paperback as soon as I possibly can!!

I have always loved stories about the sea, so, when I first saw this beautiful cover, I signed up to review this book right away! 

To my great delight, I was immediately hooked, and swept up into a very imaginative tale, based on the legends (some say they're true stories) of the mysterious land of Atlantis. However, this is not quite Atlantis, but a kingdom named "Itlantis", an underwater kingdom. Still, there are references to the legendary Atlantis with the mention of an ancient cataclysm that killed many people, forcing others to build a magnificent realm underneath the seas. So Ellison is really extrapolating as to what could have happened to Atlantis when it sank into the ocean. Thus, this new kingdom is now named "Itlantis", to differentiate it from that other fabled kingdom. I think this is brilliant, and makes a lot of sense.

It's not only the great characters, but the masterful world building, as well, that makes this novel such a captivating story! Ellison's descriptions of the cities of this underwater realm are beautiful and magical, as well as very believable. And their names are so wonderful too -- Celestrus, nicknamed "The Jeweled City", and, as described by one of the secondary characters, the "seat of learning and the arts"; Primus, Volcanus.... I loved the detailed descriptions of the various places in the story -- the beautiful gardens, encased in spheres, the arches and fantastical architecture of the cities, the way the sea was integrated into each and every feature of the people's homes and other buildings..... I actually felt as if I, too, lived there, as if I were walking the streets, taking in all the lovely sights, seeing, up close and personal, schools of fish floating by the transparent walls of the buildings.... In short, this was a truly enchanting experience!

Here's an especially evocative description of the gardens of Celestrus:

"They were so beautiful, like pearls. The sunlight made their surface sparkle, and I could only faintly see inside to where plants were growing and waterfalls were splashing. I saw people in rich robes with elaborate hairstyles watching our ship pass as it swept over the top of one of the orbs and then beneath another."

The characters more than lived up to the setting they were so skillfully placed in, too. I immediately liked Aemi when I met her! She's an extremely intelligent, very observant young woman, unjustly enslaved, and mistreated by her young mistress, who is nothing better than a rich, spoiled, brat. And Aemi is very skilled with a spear, which made me like her even more! She bravely steps up to help her friend, Kit, during a spear-throwing contest, and stoically bears the consequences. She's a true and loyal friend. 

It took me a while to warm up to Nol, who was kidnapped right along with Aemi, and placed as an "Indentured" in the same household with her. He was initially arrogant, and he and Aemi totally disliked each other. It didn't help that he initially liked the vapid, shallow Tagatha, whom Aemi had to serve as a "thrall" (the name given to slaves in this book). However, Nol did change and grow throughout the story, and thankfully, began to see Aemi as the brave, intelligent young woman she really was. So, from being "frienemies", they went on to something more.

I have always thought that secondary characters are so important to a novel as to either make or break it. In this case, these characters were just as well-drawn and interesting as the two leads. My favorite was  Merelus, the scholarly diplomat in whose household Aemi and Nol were placed. He is a kind, benevolent man, whose whole life is based on the pursuit of knowledge, to be used for the benefit of his people. And he is a kind master to both Aemi and Nol. He even takes a special interest in helping Aemi advance her own knowlege.

There were more wonderful secondary characters, such as Tob and Mella, Aemi's fellow servants, and good friends. Tob had a rather comical streak, as he was always asking questions, and they weren't always tactful ones, either. Mella served as his "filter". It was really pretty cute, and, although they were labeled as friends, I always saw them as a couple. Tob was very caring with Mella, and she with him, in spite of constantly chiding him for his blunt way of asking indiscreet questions. Their relationship was endearing as well as funny.

Another secondary character I really liked was Lyssia, Merelus's daughter. She was not talented as a scholar, the way her father was, but she was very kind-hearted, and immediately struck up a friendship with Aemi, one that was sincere, too, and not based on whatever Lyssia could get out of Aemi. In some passages of the book, these two were more like sisters than mistress and servant. And Lyssia was such a welcome contrast to the arrogant, abusive Tagatha!

Right along with Tagatha, there was another secondary character I totally hated, and that was Crakea, the "doumeu", who was in charge of the kitchen in Merelus's house. Aemi was assigned as her assistant, something that Crakea disliked. In fact, she always disliked her assistants. She was always afraid of the possibility that someday, one of them would take her position in Merelus's household. This woman treated Aemi in a totally despicable manner from the moment the two of them met, and I cringed and gritted my teeth in anger each time I was a mute witness to this abuse. 

This novel also presents a very interesting political system. The Itlantians are "ruled" by a Senate. It's an egalitarian system, though, as regular citizens may bring suggestions before the Senate, addressing them as equals in meetings whose purpose is to discuss government business in a democratic manner, as the Senate members are not considered at all "better" than other citizens who hold no political office. This was fascinating and I loved it! There was no dictatorship here, but a rule by those most qualified to lead, as it should be. 

There was also some political intrigue in the plot of this enthralling novel. The Itlanteans had been at war with a rival kingdom, the Dron, and Merelus was actively involved in seeking peace. When  a sudden crisis arose, possibly involving this enemy, our heroes were forced to work together in order to survive. This part of the novel was sad, and I nearly cried. Thankfully, Ellison had created very resourceful, courageous characters who rose to the occasion, and whose resourcefulness and loyalty to friends, family and country was truly admirable!

This is the first book in a totally intriguing, exciting series which I fully intend to read in its entirety! Ellison has crafted a magicallyenticing world populated by enchanting characters, and one that made me turn pages until I had read every last word! (One night I actually stayed up until 5:00 AM!) Kudos to Kate Avery Ellison!


Purchase Links -- Digital Edition

 This exciting novel is also available 
in a trade paperback edition!
Coincidentally I featured this  gorgeous cover 
in a "Shelf Candy Saturday" 
post in 2014!
You can access it HERE.

Of Sea and Stone
(Secrets of Itlantis, Book 1)
Kate Avery Ellison
Trade Paperback, 258 pages
CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform
February 18, 2014
Fantasy, Romance, Science Fiction,
Young Adult Fiction

Purchase Links -- Print Edition

I'm the author of the Frost Chronicles, an Amazon bestselling series and source material for the adventure app game Frost by Delight Games, as well as numerous other fantasy and science fiction novels. I love putting a dash of mystery in everything I write, an ode to a childhood spent reading Nancy Drew, Agatha Christie, and Sherlock Holmes. I can’t resist adding a good twist in the story wherever I can.

I wish I could live in a place where it’s always October, but until that’s possible, I make my home in humid Atlanta with my husband, children, and two spoiled cats.


To access the complete tour schedule, just click on the button below!


  1. I like that the kingdom in this book is named Itlantis to differentiate it from Atlantis. And from what I read in your review I also get a ancient Rome kind of vibe? Maybe that's just wishful thinking on my part. But it does sound like an incredible book! And of course the cover is gorgeous. ♥

    1. Hi, Steph!

      Oh, I like that, too!! It gives this novel a unique twist!

      I do see the ancient Rome vibe, now that you mention it. It's present in the whole idea of having a Senate be the governing body. It's a group of people who rule together, with no one person in charge. I LOVE this concept, as it's much more egalitarian. I would imagine they rule by a consensus vote. It really does sound democratic!

      And yes, I LOVE the cover, too!! I also LOVE the cover of the paperback edition!!

      Thanks for the nice comment!! HUGS!!! <3 <3 <3 :) :) :)

  2. Thank you for a detailed, thorough review - I really enjoy the premise and will keep an eye out for this one:)). And I do love that cover.

    1. Hi, Sarah!

      Oh, thank you so much for the compliment!! <3 <3

      I highly recommend this book -- and the series -- to you! Yes, this is the first volume of the series, "Secrets of Itlantis". I'm looking forward to reading the rest of the books!

      And I agree that that the cover is GORGEOUS!!

      Thanks for the lovely comment!! HUGS!! <3 <3 <3 :) :) :)

  3. Great review Maria.

    Based upon your review, the world building sounds impressive in this book.

    The government of the Itlantians does sound interesting. I think that it resembles the Ancient Greek ideal of what government should be like. The Greeks never lived up to the ideal however. One of many problems with their system was slavery, but I guess the Itlantians also have the same issue. I wonder if Kate Ellison had that in mind when she wrote the book.

    1. Hi, Brian!

      Thanks so much for the compliment!! <3 <3

      Oh, the world building is nothing short of AWESOME!! And I thought of "The Republic" as I was reading this book, although I didn't mention that in the review. But yes, the concept of a ruling Senate did remind of the Greeks. (Steph, the first commenter here, mentioned the ancient Romans, and I agree with her, as well.)

      I was sure at first that the Itlanteans had a system of slavery, but that was actually the main characters' perception, when they were arrived at the city of Celestrus, one of the Itlantean cities. In reality, the Itlanteans had indentured servants, people who were serving because they had committed some crime, or owed someone a debt that they couldn't pay. However, one of Merelus's other servants, Crakea, did treat Aemi very cruelly. And Aemi was a real slave when she lived at The Village of the Rocks, from where she was kidpnapped and taken to Itlantis.

      Coincidentally, I featured the paperback cover of this book in a "Shelf Candy Saturday" post back in 2014. I had no idea it was the same book that I read, but in the Kindle edition. Needless to say, I'm going to buy the paperback! And I do love both covers!

      Thanks for the wonderful comment!! <3 :)


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