A Young Adult Fantasy Adventure

Young Adult - Fantasy - General
319 Pages
Reviewed on 07/06/2023
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    Book Review

Reviewed by Ronél Steyn for Readers' Favorite

Author Melissa Bellis brings an entirely new world to life in the young adult fantasy, Sunstruck. In the desert, where water sources are rare and the sun can poison your blood, Dustin ventures across the sands, looking for treasure. Dowsing equipment is always in demand. His only companion is the old water map he inherited from his grandfather. This he keeps taped to his body under layers of protective clothing. The only problem with this map is that he can’t read it. His true mission is to find his brother, Vincent. Then he rescues Olivia from two bandits in the scorching wastelands. It seems she has her own secrets she does not wish to share. When Dustin’s precious map is stolen, he and Olivia set out to get it back and hopefully find Vincent in the process.

Melissa Bellis knows how to work on all your senses. This fantasy adventure is one of those you can completely immerse yourself in. This is a true escape from reality, but also a very possible one at the same time. Like the shifting sands, you are carried forward, joining very relatable characters on their journey. There is death and thirst. There is sand between your teeth. There is survival, doubt, betrayal, and hope. I gladly recommend Sunstruck to anyone that enjoys fantasy adventures, whether you are young or old. I loved how the author ended the book. The possibility of another adventure for Dustin is hinted at, but it might not be one that is written down. I will definitely be looking out for more from Melissa Bellis!

Melissa Bellis

An utterly readable tale…

Bellis’s debut is a gripping YA fantasy featuring an authentic cast and atmospheric settings. The world is a dangerous place, especially during the day when the sun’s rays can kill in minutes. Nineteen-year-old Dustin is in possession of an ancient map, a family heirloom, he believes can help him locate water sources. When he saves Olivia, a mysterious ocean city girl, from a vicious group of bandits, he finds his water map stolen. Determined to find his map, he teams up with Olivia, unaware that’s just the beginning of a dangerous journey he will be forced to take. The fantasy world that Bellis creates is immaculate, and her characters are relatable and emotionally compelling. Olivia, for example, is an ocean city girl who turns out to be a total badass. Her complicated and turbulent bond with Dustin is thoroughly authentic, and the growth of their relationship as they face impossible dangers is rooted in reality. Third-person-point-of-view chapters from the protagonists allow readers to see varying perspectives and become invested in their individual stories. Addictive and intriguing. ―ThePrairiesBookReview