I received a free advanced copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
What if all of our myths were true? When humanity startedI received a free advanced copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
What if all of our myths were true? When humanity started to really dominate the planet, the creatures of legend and folklore banded together to form the Pact. In order to escape humanity's notice (and persecution), only one individual of each kind of creature would be allowed to remain, the others passing into a Sleep until the day a lasting peace might be achieved. The Remnants who stayed awake agreed to keep a low profile, not fight one another, and help enforce the Pact on any who broke it.
Red Ben Garston is the Remnant for dragonkind. He lives mostly in his human form, doing odd jobs for crooks, drinking Jack, and accumulating an ever-larger pile of treasure. Cities come and go, as do women, usually. His predictable life gets upturned when old foes normally kept at bay by the Pact show up, claiming it doesn't protect him any more since there is another dragon awake. Except Ben doesn't know how this is possible, as he didn't wake any of his fellow dragons. Getting to the bottom of this mystery sets him on a quest with roots that go back millennia.
This sounds like my kind of book, right? Shape-shifting dragons are real. And I really wanted to love it. But it was just... ok. The biggest issue was that I couldn't get into the character of Ben. I didn't buy his love story. I didn't buy that he was a creature several centuries old, because he certainly didn't act like it. I didn't really know anything about his personality and drives, and it made everything else surrounding him either unbelievable or not interesting. It didn't help that a LARGE portion of his sections were just describing the scenery. There was a whole lot of telling rather than showing in the writing, and repetition of things already explained, which never works well for me.
The parts of the story that hover over the little girl, on the other hand, were very compelling. I almost wish that had been the main storyline and main character, rather than Ben. Once it got into the bit of ancient story coming into modern day, the book got a lot more interesting. I also quite liked the fae envoy that popped in every now and then- he had clear personality and draw.
As for the overall storyline, again, it was ok. Part mystery, part adventure, part magic. The premise was great, and I wish it had been carried off with more skill. Sadly, as is, I can only say it was baseline entertaining. The issues above meant it look me a long time to get through, even though it's not a terribly long book. I do like the cover art, so there's that, too.
If you like dragons and modern mystery, by all means don't let me stop you from giving this a try. But I'll be taking a pass on book 2 in this series....more
I received a free advanced copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
In this alternate England, magically-gifted aristocrats (I received a free advanced copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
In this alternate England, magically-gifted aristocrats (Equals) rule the land, while ungifted commoners must serve 10 years as slaves. When in their life they serve those 10 years is up to them, but serve it they must. Not everyone is happy about this arrangement. The slavetowns are backbreaking and bleak, and it's becoming more clear that being Skilled with magic is not the straight genetic shot everyone thought it was. Three young people find themselves in the midst, in different ways, of this political turmoil and magical hotbed.
Luke, a teenage boy, is serving out his 10 years of slavedom in a milltown and getting a taste for social revolution. His older sister, Abi, is serving out her years more cushily, as secretary to a powerful Equal family and finding herself in over her head. Silyen is the youngest son of that Equal family, and also the most talented magically- to the point no one knows what he's really capable of or planning. Things mostly focus on Luke and Abi, with occasional appearances by Silyen. I found all 3 believable in the context of their world, and compelling. I'm always partial to a mysterious boy, though, so I would've loved to see Silyen on more pages.
This is a pretty well-done first book in a series. It sets the stage and gets the ball rolling, and gets you intrigued. Just enough happens that you want to keep going, but there is still a lot left hanging to make you pick up subsequent books. I liked that it was a mix of a lot of different things. You've got bits of political maneuvering, romance, espionage, magic, dystopia, revolution, family, murder, and more. All set in this alternate (yet recognizable) England. Instead of feeling schizophrenic, it mostly works. The writing style was not particularly memorable, neither beautiful nor terrible. The emphasis is on plot and character rather than language, and in this case that worked fine for me. Sometimes the text needs to get out of the way of the story.
A few things I didn't like: some of the lesser characters were a bit cookie-cutter stereotypes. Particularly the older brother and the slave overseer. Luke and Abi's parents were annoyingly passive about... well, everything. The 'reveal' towards the end as to certain revolutionaries was not at all a surprise to me, the hints were broadcast pretty widely. On the other hand, one key figure in the mix at the end seemed to come out of nowhere, as did the fact that a certain security measure was someone unknown or overlooked.
Overall, those are more minor points, and the book as whole I enjoyed quite a bit. I'm very much looking forward to getting my hands on book 2. Though it will be awhile, sadly. This first book will be out until early 2017, and no word yet on when book 2 will appear. But if you enjoy dark historical fantasy YA, put this on your TBR pile for next year. ...more
3.5/5 stars. I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
A century from now, after widespread nuclear war, humanity is clingin3.5/5 stars. I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
A century from now, after widespread nuclear war, humanity is clinging to a few select cities, kept safe from radiation by their force field domes. Jackson is a legit businessman and less-legit smuggler, making ends meet and sailing through life. And it would be smooth sailing, except for some troubling dreams, hallucinations of extinct ravens, and his own finicky magic. Then a big government contract lands in his lap, and it's too good to pass up. Except the cargo is not a thing, but a person. And she is definitely not normal, definitely not local- and very much about to be in a world of trouble and need help. Jackson suddenly finds himself smack in the middle of a power struggle between the government, a rogue agent, and the magic-wielders, with his own power and destiny suddenly come calling.
This book has an interesting mix of science fiction and fantasy elements. On the sci-fi side, you have the anti-radiation tech, questionable experiments, and time travel. On the fantasy side, you have magic powers, mysterious beings, and dreams that maybe aren't really dreams. And, surprisingly, this all works well together. There's not a jarring dissonance between these difference forces, they're just all part of the world.
Jackson as one of the two main characters is... ok. For someone who is supposed to be a successful smuggler, I found him frustratingly naive and even willfully ignorant at times. My annoyance at him would occasionally draw me out of the story. It did get better, after a certain near-death experience turning point. Anna, the other main character, I found much more intriguing. Her bewilderment and temper (depending on the situation) were equally believable. I very much want to know more about her back story: how she got from her past to this present. We get enough of that for a first book in a series, but she is definitely the hook that will get me to read book 2.
The minor characters tended to be a bit one-note, unfortunately. Frank was your typical gruff older sidekick-slash-father-figure. Agent Walker was like a copy of Agent Smith from the Matrix, sunglasses obsession and all. I am intrigued by the starry-eyed figure that appears in Jackson's dreams, and whom I suspect is responsible for his adoptive history.
The part of this book that REALLY didn't work for me was the entire Tony storyline. To me, it was a messy, gimmicky way to reveal a certain government project. There were so many (better!) ways this could have been handled. It didn't advance the Anna storyline (other than I guess to give her an excuse to stretch her powers, which again could've been done a better way). And it certainly didn't advance Jackson's storyline, aside from a childhood trauma that has no other bearing on the story, and vague hints at Jackson's destiny. It was a clumsy way to separate the two main characters, and by the time they are reunited, not a whole lot has changed, so what was the point?
That aside, the rest of the plotlines were more interesting. I want to know more about the history of the magical Order and their exact beef with Jackson. I want to know more about Anna's history and how she ended up there. I want to know about both of their powers and the why behind them. By the end, I was even curious about Agent Walker and his apparent crew.
So, there's potential here. And I will be picking up book 2, though I'll have to wait awhile for it. If you like dark urban fantasy with a smidge of sci-fi, give this a try....more