The Beginning

An August In Savannah Novel

Young Adult - Fantasy - General
131 Pages
Reviewed on 09/10/2023
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    Book Review

Reviewed by Carmen Tenorio for Readers' Favorite

The Beginning: An August in Savannah Novel by Safiyyah Ar-Raheem revolves around Symone, an average teenager who starts to feel lonely and displaced after her family moved to Savannah, Georgia due to her father's recent transfer to the Savannah branch of his company. The other is Arius, a mysterious-looking boy who belongs to an ancient race of immortals called the Ageless. Their worlds collide at a school dance where they almost immediately experience an undeniable attraction to each other. As they become more than mere acquaintances or classmates, they begin to explore Savannah together, facing both its beauty and dangers. Their pairing also makes them more vulnerable to the hostilities of enemies such as the Negate Ageless, who don't like humans and lurk behind the shadows, seeking to erode peace and order and cause mayhem. However, the friendship between these two adventurers from different realms makes them tend to stick together despite the trouble and hazards that their relationship attracts.

The Beginning is a story of youthful romance and adventure set in scenic Savannah, Georgia. Safiyyah Ar-Raheem takes advantage of this setting by using vivid descriptions of the picturesque locale that inspired her to create otherworldly realms that further captivate the reader's imagination. By revealing such layers of uncharted spheres, the author adds more exotic beauty and precarious moments in the story to tell us that there's more here than meets the eye. It's easy reading and nothing is forced or too fast-paced. Everyday language and modern expressions are used to make it more relatable and get the reader emotionally involved in the dilemma of the main characters and the progress of their relationship. It's like seeing Romeo and Juliet in alternate realities. Recommended for teen and young adult readers who enjoy plots of exciting fantasy that come with a touch of action, peril, friendship, and romance.

Stephanie Chapman

Safiyyah Ar-Raheem’s The Beginning: An August in Savannah is a short story featuring Symone’s move to Savannah, Georgia. Symone learns there is to be a dance at the school on the Saturday before classes were to start. At the dance, she notices an attractive boy dressed all in black. He sees her across the room and asks her to dance. She tells him her family moved to Savannah because it was safer than Boston. Arius responds with a cynical story about Savannah’s demons. The next day, Symone goes for a walk along River Street. She follows a set of stairs but feels as if someone is following her. She runs away from her pursuer but gets yanked behind a dumpster with a rag against her face. Oddly, Arius rescues her from a dark concrete room. How did he know where she was and what is he not telling her?

Safiyyah Ar-Raheem builds suspense with Arius and his mysterious persona. I would not be open to Arius’ strange explanation about immortal races. Symone’s perspective is typical of a sophomore in high school. It is enlightening to hear how Arius spoke formally with words such as "thee" and "Miss, it is my pleasure." He appears to be a lot older than Symone, who speaks more casually. The change from one event to the next was easy to follow. It was effortless for me to picture thanks to the vivid depictions of the surroundings. The discussion at the dance hooked me with its intrigue. I was stunned by the ending of the book. It was abrupt, and I am eager to read the sequel. I would recommend The Beginning to readers who enjoy fantasy stories involving forces of light and dark.

Pikasho Deka

The Beginning: An August in Savannah Novel is a fantasy romance by Safiyyah Ar-Raheem. Symone and her family have just moved from their home in Boston to the seemingly tranquil pastures of Savannah in Georgia. Although she misses her friends back in Boston, Symone is eager to make the best of her situation and enrolls in St. Patrick's Academy as a sophomore, where at a school dance, she meets Arius. Feeling an instant mutual connection, Symone and Arius soon take long walks, with Arius even introducing himself to her father. However, when Arius reveals that Savannah may not be as safe as it seems and that he is one of the Ageless, Symone can't decide if she can trust him. Meanwhile, during one of her walks in the city, she is kidnapped, needing Arius to rescue her. Can she trust him?

Fans of stories like Stephenie Meyer's Twilight series will find a lot to love about The Beginning. Safiyyah Ar-Raheem's novella features a fascinating blend of romance, intrigue, and mystery that hints at something far more than it first appears to be. This feels like an introductory book where the author has set up the characters and the world for the story to grow. Ar-Raheem keeps the plot moving at an even pace, and the easygoing narrative makes for a smooth and relaxing reading experience. Symone and Arius' teen romance is the heartbeat of the story. Their chemistry feels genuine, and each scene featuring them together is a joy to read. I will recommend this book to young adult readers who love paranormal romances with mystery and intrigue.