My rating: 4 of 5 Stars
How I Got It: Purchased eBook
Publication Date: August, 2017
Publisher: Eulalia Skye Press
Point of View: 1st Person Present
Genre: Fantasy Adventure
It always frustrates me a little when I come across an excellent book, but it's got a not-so excellent cover. Particularly in the case of an excellent indie book, because then the book doesn't LOOK as professional as it is, and I have a harder time convincing others to read it.
Actually, this was precisely my own reason for not bothering to try Kate Stradling's work for quite some time now. A trusted reader-friend kept telling me to pick up her books, telling me I was bound to love them. But I kept looking at the covers and going "Eh. Never mind."
DON'T MAKE MY MISTAKE.
WHAT I LOVED
Okay, within the first chapter I knew I'd found a book I was going to enjoy. Within the first five chapters, I knew I'd found an author whose entire library of work I'm going to buy and read over time. Her writing is just THAT GOOD.
It’s funny, but this book kind of makes me think of The Hero and the Crown or The Blue Sword by Robin McKinley. It’s first person present tense, which feels much more modern than both of those, but something about the mood and flavor strikes me the same way. And I LOVE it!
Anjeni makes for a fascinating heroine in her way. She is very, very angsty, so prepare yourself for the angst. But she grows as well. She’s never exactly likeable, but she’s interesting, conflicted, struggling, striving. I felt invested in her and her story, and I cared about her.
The thing that impressed me the most about this book was the magic system. It is so brilliantly developed! Stradling made something utterly unreal feel absolutely real. And the difficulty of learning it, mastering it, executing it properly all added to the suspense and drama of the plot as our heroine is racing against time to not only hone her own skills but also to train others to march into battle.
The story is quite an action-packed adventure with some seriously brilliant and beautiful magical battle scenes that wowed me along the way. The climactic sequence in particular was incredible, with a perfect face-off moment between Anjeni and her great antagonist (who shall remain nameless. Don’t want to risk spoilers here!)
WHAT I DIDN’T LIKE SO MUCH
Well . . . I loved this book, don’t get me wrong. But there were a couple of things that kind of bugged me. The romance between Anjeni and her hero was interesting, but it was a little bit forced. Just my opinion, but it got a little annoying and distracting sometimes. I did like how their story resolved though. That was a surprise twist I actually didn’t see coming!
The thing that frustrated me the most was the “other woman” character. She was SUCH a Mean Girl with no redeeming qualities whatsoever. And yet I’m supposed to believe that the hero had told this girl that he loved her only a year before? I don’t know—if you’re going to have an “other woman” character, it just seems cheap to make her irredeemably petty and selfish and stupid. Give her something to make her interesting!
Maybe this was all because the story is told through Anjeni’s eyes, and Anjeni is tremendously jealous of “other woman.” Anjeni isn’t a particularly nice person herself, so I guess I could believe that she would interpret everything about this other girl in the worst possible light. But that doesn’t endear Anjeni to me.
Oh well. Neither of those little things ultimately damaged my love of this book or my firm intention of reading every Kate Stradling book I can get my hands on in the near future. She has become a must-read author for me.