We begin in a most unlikely location, the local YMCA, where a young water Fey has just arrived, or perhaps it’d be better said “has just been delivered” as he is…dead. Shocking certainly…but even more so when you consider this…the Fey are IMMORTAL. How can this be? What darkness could have possibly succeeded in such a monstrous act? A wizard, or more accurately a Dryad, comes bearing the news...the Ogres are in Avalon, in the palace; we are conquered. High King Thael Quintinar and the High Queen, royal defenders of the palace, have been executed along with their descendents; a sad and upsetting day for all Fey-kind.
Meanwhile back in
Story wise all the key elements are there. There’s plenty of action with sword play, magic, invasions and the like…certainly enough to keep both guys and gals entertained throughout. There’s a plentiful amount of fantastical lands, people, and creatures described incredibly well, and yet the author kept it from becoming so laden with these aspects that fantasy-light readers (*raises hand*) would not be swallowed whole by the details. There’s just enough romance to keep a gal’s interest (with a kiss scene or two that is certainly swoon worthy -- *fans self*) but not so much that it crosses the line into a romance novel (or even a YA romance for that matter); it sticks to YA fantasy (and claims Modern Fantasy as its genre) with the romance blossoming on the edges to help frame the masterpiece within. The emotional rainbow it explores bounces from one end of the spectrum to the other with heart warming moments, times of great concern, and even the bleakness of utter despair. Speaking of bleak…
Now before any of you get in an uproar, no...I'm not comparing it to Twilight, that'd be like comparing apples to oranges; they both exist on separate spheres. I'm also not pulling a new rivalry out of the hat, and let me just say that I am a fan of BOTH series (just call me
The cast of characters we become acquainted with is fantastic and filled with so much diversity. First off, there’s Karen. A strong female lead, she’s only just discovering what she and the world have to offer. There’s a bit of a rebel streak in her as well that comes to her aid more than once in the story as does her fluency in Fey. You have to love the description Karen gives of herself as opposed to the Fey as their beauty is determined by their social rank (i.e. Beri, her friend and crush…GORGEOUS). I believe it was so eloquently put that Karen is “…she of the frizzy hair and five extra pounds” (--pg 27/31); gotta love a character that has a sense of humor even when they are the subject of it.
Beri (the Fey prince and Karen’s friend…or something more), Julian (Karen’s lost – or is he -- brother), Cora (the little Hob witch that also goes by another rather infamous name you might recognize…shan’t spoil it here though), Shannon O’Grady (another half-fey “warrior” who just might be a whole lot more than his snarky self seems to be), Rhyn (The Lord of the Host….and one freaking scary dude…trust me, watch him), Brother (who is not actually Karen’s brother….but that’s explained in the book…another one to watch)…shall I continue? Even with all of these key players having their turn in the spotlight, you still get to know them well enough to become connected to their fates.
With all that is good (and there was so much more than even I mentioned), there must come a smidge of not-so-good…sad as that may be. Here goes. For me, a few of the characters seemed to play against their described natures at times...changing their minds in an instant. How so? Well for one, the Erlking who is known for his evil agenda and raw power…has a streak of mercy out of the blue. For another, Brother who is of the immortal persuasion and has a distinct hatred for mortals, all but shrugs off Karen’s mortality status upon its revelation, but given the circumstances of the story, it is perhaps more acceptable….just seemed a bit too sudden.
Now let me reiterate, it doesn’t impede the overall enjoyment of the novel, it just gets a little cumbersome…case in point. Almost every time Karen takes a waiting or impatient stance in her body language, it reads “...cross her arms under her breasts”. Descriptive? Yes. Necessary? Perhaps not; I mean what would the harm be in her just crossing her arms? The image doesn't lose any "power", it just offers readers another way to read-all-about-it.
Thirdly and very rarely, we have a case of dialogue drama. Off and on (though more off than on) the dialogue tends to space out and feel disconnected - almost like the characters lose their place or forgot their lines and are adlibbing. Case in point… the inconsistency between what Karen initially translates to herself upon the Dryad’s arrival in the opening scene and what she repeats to Mark and the bystanders. In essence I suppose it means the same thing, but it just felt like it threw things off a bit creating a skip in the story’s transition. Though it sounds like more of an issue than it is (hence my bringing it up), it only serves as a mild irritant once in a blue moon but still something to take into account so you’re not left wondering what you might have missed.
The chapters are not so long as to disallow completion before taking required breaks (as in bathroom, eating, and sleeping…though who needs THAT really?), a fact that this reader much appreciates, but they are long enough to continually move the story forward. There is no stalling point as you progress because there is always some new action to take in, new revelation to contemplate, or new future to consider. A strong debut from this emerging author and one that’ll certainly be making waves for some time to come; can’t wait to see what the author comes up with next.
Recommended reading for Young Adult, Fantasy, and Fiction fans alike of the teen and adult reading age. A few off the cuff jokes will color your cheeks as will a romantic tinged scene or two, but nothing that wouldn’t be acceptable for those age groups. Review eBook received courtesy of author M.L. John. (THANKS!) For more information, be sure to visit her blog, check out her Facebook page, or follow along on Twitter. This book was released in eBook format through Gypsy Shadow Publishing December 2010…should you be interested in seeking a copy of your own (oh and there's a chapter 1 excerpt there for your reading pleasure as well!).
Until next time…happy reading!