This month, I’m reading a mix of scary books (tis the season) and Pride & Prejudice-related books (because that’s where we are with our Austen book club). I took another break from my planned books to read this YA-fantasy debut, newly released this month, and I will say, it was a pleasant diversion.
What it’s about
From the Goodreads blurb:
Seventeen-year-old Shae has led a seemingly quiet life, joking with her best friend Fiona, and chatting with Mads, the neighborhood boy who always knows how to make her smile. All while secretly keeping her fears at bay… Of the disease that took her brother’s life. Of how her dreams seem to bleed into reality around her. Of a group of justice seekers called the Bards who claim to use the magic of Telling to keep her community safe.
When her mother is murdered, she can no longer pretend.
Not knowing who to trust, Shae journeys to unlock the truth, instead finding a new enemy keen to destroy her, a brooding boy with dark secrets, and an untold power she never thought possible.
A lot of the reviews I’ve seen for this book, both positive and negative, mention the author’s fame… I can honestly say that I didn’t realize that she was that Dylan Farrow until I was well in to the story. I’m not sure it matters—she might have had an easier time getting a deal than others, considering she’s from a talented and well-known family, but Farrow has written a solid debut and a memorable introduction into a fascinating new world.
The world building is strong in this book: Farrow takes time to really bring the reader into her dark dystopian world where many are oppressed and few possess magic. Most of the book is devoted to introducing this unique world, and there is more than enough groundwork here to build a good series on.
That said, the magic system itself isn’t very clearly defined, and some of the characters are one-dimensional. I hope that more time will be spent in future books on developing all of the characters and providing more information about how the magic works. Just as I was feeling comfortable, the plot took off quickly and the ending seemed a bit rushed.
Overall, this is a good debut novel… YA without being annoying about it, with some great fantasy elements. I’m looking forward to reading more in this series.
Thanks to the author, publisher, and NetGalley for my free copy in exchange for this honest review.