Reviewed by: Baby Sister Brittany
The Sisters say: Interesting, Impressive
I noticed his eyes. They were blue, sharp and intense. Despite the youthful glows of his suntanned face, his eyes were cold and unfriendly, suggesting he had great experience in the world and was now expecting the worst.
In her seventeenth year, Princess Alera of Hytanica faces one duty: to marry the man who will be king. But her father's choice of suitor fills her with despair.
When the palace guard captures and intruder—a boy her age with steel-blue eyes, hailing from her kingdom's greatest enemy—Alera is alarmed…and intrigued. But she could not have guessed that their clandestine meetings would unveil the dark legacy shadowing both their lands.
In this mystical world of court conspiracies and blood magic, loyalties will be tested. Courage won't be enough. And as the battle begins for everything Alera holds dear, love may be the downfall of a kingdom.
I really liked this book. In fact, it kind of blew my mind that the author wrote it when she was FOURTEEN YEARS OLD!!!! Yeah. Do you know what I was doing when I was fourteen?
Not writing a book, that’s for dang sure.
Things that I loved about this book—
1. It was high fantasy, but I was never confused in the slightest! I love high fantasy. I really really LOVE it. But I’m a speed reader, and my trouble with high fantasy is they are usually so very detailed that I get a little bored and scan read a little faster than I should, and I miss things. But this book had just enough detail to set the time and place and mood, but was still simple enough that I didn’t feel like it was overwrought with descriptions. For those of you who are reluctant readers of high fantasy—give this a shot!
2. I loved the characters. Some of whom I’m not sure I should love. See, there’s this guy named Steldor, and he’s who Alera’s father wants her to marry. But unfortunately, Alera can’t stand him. He’s arrogant and rude. But… I kinda like him? Lol. I don’t know. Sure, in the beginning, I hated him like everyone else, but he made me laugh with his cocky wit several times, and I started to warm up to him. Then I started to see that he really had feelings for Alera beneath his smug exterior, and those feelings were the only vulnerability he had. Then… I was hooked. Now for the sad part— Alera is sort of in love with another guy. *Cries* Why do I seem to continuously prefer the guy that the girl will most likely NOT end up with? It’s awful. Terrible, really. But I can’t make myself stop! I’ve taken to calling this “The Ren Effect” as in Ren from Andrea Cremer’s Nightshade. But to get back to the characters—I loved plenty of other characters in the book too! I liked Alera, it was easy to get absorbed in her story. And I really liked her body guard London too!
3. The book was long (almost 500 pages), but I was so into it that I read it in one night!
I did have one issue with this book. Let me see if I can articulate this… I think the problem stems from a lack of editing and refining of the plot. There were several instances throughout the book when I felt as if the writing hinted that we were moving in a certain direction or that something was going to happen, but then it never went anywhere. And a few of those things were wrapped up later in the book in what felt like easy fixes—like someone else brought up the misdirection, and rather than fixing it at the source, the author just added a quick fix patch. I’ve taken to calling this an unreliable narrator. Sometimes it can be done on purpose (for example: Liar by Justin Larbalestier), but other times it is done accidentally when an author doesn’t know where a book is heading. The result is that the reader doesn’t always trust what the author tells them, which in the case of this book, is not the desired effect. The easiest (and least spoiler-y) example I can give for this is Alera’s relationship with London. He’s her body guard and goes with her everywhere. She sees him as a fatherly figure, but I kept getting the impression that he had feelings for her that were more romantic than fatherly. I thought it for well over half the book, until the author made London say he thought of Alera as a daughter.
However—did this stop me from enjoying the book? Heck no. And frankly, I think it’s something Cayla will fix in the next book in the series. And who knows? Maybe it was just me. I’m the kind of reader that likes to theorize and guess what’s going to happen, so perhaps I read more into things than other people. Either way, I think it’s worth the read!