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Book one in a haunting and romantic YA duology packed with action, romance, and betrayal from the critically acclaimed author of the Defy trilogy, Sara B. Larson. On her eighteenth birthday, Princess Evelayn of Eadrolan, the Light Kingdom, can finally access the full range of her magical powers. The light looks brighter, the air is sharper, and the energy she can draw when fighting feels almost limitless.But while her mother, the queen, remains busy at the war front, in the Dark Kingdom of Dorjhalon, the corrupt king is plotting. King Bain wants control of both kingdoms, and his plan will fling Evelayn into the throne much sooner than she expected.In order to defeat Bain and his sons, Evelayn will quickly have to come into her ability to shapeshift, and rely on the alluring Lord Tanvir. But not everyone is what they seem, and the balance between the Light and Dark comes at a steep price.In the first book of a remarkable duology, Sara B. Larson sets the stage for her reimagining of Swan Lake -- a lush romance packed with betrayal, intrigue, magic, and adventure.

320 pages, Kindle Edition

First published May 30, 2017

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About the author

Sara B. Larson

9 books1,861 followers
Sara B. Larson is the best-selling and critically acclaimed author of the YA fantasy DEFY trilogy (DEFY, IGNITE, and ENDURE) and the DARK BREAKS THE DAWN duology. Her next YA fantasy, SISTERS OF SHADOW AND LIGHT, comes out November 5th from Tor Teen. She can’t remember a time when she didn’t write books—although she now uses a computer instead of a Little Mermaid notebook. Sara lives in Utah with her husband, their four children, and their Maltese, Loki. She writes in brief snippets throughout the day and the quiet hours when most people are sleeping. Her husband claims she should have a degree in “the art of multitasking.” When she’s not mothering or writing, you can often find her at the gym repenting for her sugar addiction.

She’s online at www.SaraBLarson.com.

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 459 reviews
Profile Image for Sara Larson.
Author 9 books1,861 followers
March 27, 2017
*Update 3/27/17 - DARK BREAKS THE DAWN just received a STARRED review from Publisher's Weekly!! It says (in part) : "Larson deftly weaves fantasy with the best parts of the SWAN LAKE ballet in this gripping first book of a duology." Don't forget to pre-order your copy and enter the giveaway for your chance to win one of the many awesome prizes I have up for grabs! (Details on my blog SaraBLarson (dot) Blogspot (dot) com)

*Update 10/26/16 - It's up for pre-order!! I repeat, DARK BREAKS THE DAWN is up for pre-order. *faints*

*Update 9/22/16 - the cover was revealed today on USA Today's HEA blog and it's already up here, too! Woohoo!! Isn't it STUNNING?!?

I can't believe it's already up on Goodreads!! You guys are amazing. I can't wait to share Evelayn's story with you all!!
Profile Image for jv poore.
606 reviews196 followers
April 23, 2020
Dark and Light were meant to exist independently, yet harmoniously. This provides and maintains balance for the world. Only, the rulers of Dark want more. They are determined take away the magic of Light and have waged war.

That very war has already taken Princess Evelayn’s father, and is currently keeping Queen Ilaria away from home. But (finally) the day of Evelayn’s 18th birthday arrives. The “18th” being of upmost importance as the ability to access full power has proven dangerous when wielded by immature beings. Evelayn has been impatiently awaiting this day since the moment she found out that the “more” she craved was not just possible, but promised.

So, that’s a pretty big deal, but there is something that pushes its way past the magic thing. The queen has promised to return for Evelayn’s special day. Even though the trip will take her from the frontlines, where she has been battling alongside the kingdom’s best soldiers.

And herein lies my first favorite thing: Royal Court receives pampering and protection during normal, every-day activities only. When it is time to fight, no one is expected to be more ferocious and fearless than the leaders.

Having always taken her physical training seriously, Evelayn can more than hold her own in a fight. And, the princess of Light has mastered the mask—the stoic expression that is to reveal nothing of her thoughts or feelings. Albeit not always employed, she is also able to perform her duties with the courtesy and politeness expected by her parents. Yet, she is nowhere near ready to replace her mother, Evelayn can’t even shift.

As day breaks, Evelayn awaits the arrival of her full power and her mother, while Dark prepares the grand finale. Step one being to kill Queen Ilaria. Without the conduit, the people of Light will not be able to access individual powers.

The magic may be restored. It’s just a small matter of Evelayn becoming Queen, performing the requite ceremony with her high priestesses, then accessing and redistributing. In three days. If it doesn’t go down, exactly right, in that tiny time window, there is an opportunity for Dark to steal the magic for themselves.

Ms. Larson is not afraid to hit the ground running (really) in her magic-filled-fantasy, Dark Breaks the Dawn. I may not have fully understood everything at first, but that couldn’t keep me from franticly flipping pages to find out what’s next. Just as the big picture was coming into view, I smugly ‘figured out’ how this tale would end.

I was wrong. Now I’m off to find a copy of Ms. Larson’s Bright Burns the Night because I haven’t had nearly enough of this world.

This review was written by jv poore for Buried Under Books, with huge thanks for the Advance Review Copy to add to my favorite classroom library.
Profile Image for Evgenia Netrebkova.
51 reviews28 followers
May 26, 2017
2.5 stars. I decided to round up, after some careful consideration as I was looking through my reviews today. Update May, 26.

Welllllll... I rarely write reviews, especially ones with 3 or less stars, and thorough ones too. But since I received an ARC, that is what I will do.

*sighs* What can I say? Dark Breaks the Dawn was one of my most anticipated books of 2017, but unfortunately it was a disappointment. At least, for me. And the sad thing is, I love the author very much, she is such a nice woman and I really wanted to like her book as well. This book had such a good potential—nice cover, intriguing premise… you get it. It promised me POLITICAL INTRIGUE (!!!) and I AM MAD THAT I DID NOT GET IT!!! Really, this book had some major issues that I just couldn’t ignore, thus this 2 star rating.

Let’s start with what was good, I mean, I gave it 2 stars instead of 1, right? So at least there’s gotta be something good about this book—uh… wait. To be honest, I really can’t say. There wasn’t an element that really stood out to me. Maybe it was a bit of the cool magic system where once one reaches the age of eighteen, they would come into their full power; or how only the royals of the kingdoms had the full sets of powers.

But in all honesty, here's what I really liked:

1. The skin colors range from blue to white to red, anything!
2. Cool place names.
3. Cool setting!
4. The powers the characters possessed—light and dark, (think Alina and Darkling) and some elemental too. The explaination was well managed. Kudos to Larson.

I didn’t hate it outright, so yeah.

Okay… Though this may seem small, I’d like to point out a point that troubled me—the villains are black (the whole family!!!) and of course, our protagonist is white and blonde haired. WHYYY? Why make the villains POC??? Characters of color do not need more shit on them anymore.


The villains seem to be the epitome of evilness (OMG, THEY ARE SOOOOOO EVIL!!!) and are on their man periods every day, all day, having mood swings and killing people. This fact is seemed to be made more egregious by the fact that the people in this kingdom could have the skin colour of the rainbow, blue, green, snow white, you name it. And isn't it weird that the ONLY good guy from the Dark Drailon side is the ONLY Dark Driolin who has WHITE (!!!) skin? So yeah. I wasn’t happy about that, since it’s 2017 and POC have been facing a troubling time and this isn’t very healthy.

So here’s my first problem—then there is the main character.

Now… here’s what Larson, the author told you: her name is Evelayn. She is the heir of the Light Kingdom. The future queen. She will be the future conduit of the power of light. And she is the only one who can shape shift.

Now… here’s what Larson didn’t tell you: SHE’S SUPER AWESOME. BEAUTIFUL. GRACEFUL. POWERFUL. REGAL. etc.. etc.. X100000 It might've just been me but I HATE Mary sues and perfect characters.

Usually, I can excuse the author telling us once or twice of the protagonists’ awesomeness… but dude… the number of times this was mention was O V E R W H E L M I N G. Not only was she mentioned to be ba-ding ba-dazzling beautiful by her love interest, by her best friend, and by the villains too!

Which brings me to another point: SO MANY POVs!!! They were pretty redundant and I didn’t see the point to it, but oh well. That problem too big. But I digress.

Okay. Fine. She’s AMAZINGGGG. I can tell myself to ignore that, to skim over those parts… until I find out this Evelayn girl is a brat. And arrogant too. Yeah. That’s a nope from me.

My second problem was the romance.


Gods. It made me cringe so bad. Yes, he was a nice guy, kind guy, gorgeous guy, mentioning to be smelling of citrus and bergamot or some lemony shit (honestly, I heard you the first time!!!). I thought he was too good to be true. First, you get a couple of chapters of instal-love then THERE WAS SO MUCH KISSING. It was so cheesy and I couldn’t help roll my eyes everytime there was a scene of Evelayn with her love interest. But honestly, there’s really no point to the romance if .

My last problem, is the world building. I AMM SOOOOOO CONFUSSSSEEEDDD!!!!!! Where do they live? What is the main character—a Drailon??? WTF is a Drailon??? (According to the author's pinterest, they are elf? fae? like people? And speaking of fae, this book is like a whole ACOTAR wannabe, using the term High Lord/lady/queen/king and it is also set on some island) Other than having long lives, colorful skin, and being able to run fast, there is literally no description on these things.

Also, the author loves to "tell" instead of "show". I have no idea how many times the words "greif" "fury" or "sadness" was used and it makes everything so melodramatic, but it's there.

So yeah. I suck at writing conclusions, but you get the idea: It falls flat. Very cliche. Easily lost amongst the YA fantasies that comes out these days. But please understand, this might just be a book that is not for me. You might like it! So don't take my opinion for %100.

ARC won from Ms. Lydia Sharp in a giveaway. Review is honesty, and un-biased. (Thank you for the book!)
Profile Image for Elle (ellexamines).
1,079 reviews17.2k followers
Shelved as 'zzzzz-did-not-finish'
July 20, 2017
UPDATE ADDED: 2/16/2017

So I never finished this and I'm not rating it. I just wanted to point out that it's very... typical.

The first two scenes are the protagonist receiving of her magical powers and her training with a love interest. These scenes are in literally every book. She's the chosen one, of course, but her life is hard anyway. Why? A forgettable reason of some kind.

The protagonist is kind of an arrogant ass. I don't know how to put it better. She comes off spoiled and rude, and not in an I'm-a-lovable-antiheroine way. She's just kind of a jerk for no reason, but she has the right to be because she's so special. like Mare Barrow if you took away any of her remaining interesting traits.

The obvious romantic interest shows up on page ten, and of course he's a jerk, but there's still time to describe his appearance. That's bad in itself, to be quite honest. The romance might improve, but then again, it might not.

The writing style is not that great. It's emotionless and flat-out dull. It could've just been the introduction, but I'm not someone who gets annoyed by writing style this quickly, and this drove me crazy.

Again, all these flaws could be fixed. They could be. But given the amount of bad fantasy novels published every year, I'm not willing to find out unless I see some seriously fabulous reviews of this from people I trust.
Profile Image for Jasmine from How Useful It Is.
1,218 reviews335 followers
June 29, 2017
About: Dark Breaks the Dawn is a young adult fantasy written by Sara B. Larson. It was published on 5/30/17 by Scholastic Press, an imprint of Scholastic Inc, 320 pages. The genres are young adult, fantasy, fiction, and magic. This is book 1 to a duology.

My Experience: I started reading Dark Breaks the Dawn on 6/12/17 and finished it on 6/29/17. The cover of this book is gorgeous! I like the concept of Light Kingdom vs Dark Kingdom. I like the magic. Honestly, difficult pronunciation of places is the main reason for my lack of interest in this book. Additionally, I was not so keen on the princess’ failed attempts to shift herself into a swan and then the swan portion plays a very minimal role in this book.

This story is told in third person point of view. Readers will follow Princess Evelayn of Eadrolan, the Light Kingdom as she eagerly awaiting to celebrate her 18 birthday so that she can embrace her full potential to the magic power granted to all 18 and above. There is currently a war going on between the Light Kingdom, Eadrolan and the Dark Kingdom, Dorjhalon where Princess Avelayn’s mother is at war against King Bain. King Bain of the Dark Kingdom has two sons: Lorcan and Lothan. King Bain is as ruthless to his people as he is to the enemy Light Kingdom as he is to his sons. At training, he wants his sons to fight until one bleeds. He is willing to sacrifice his own soldiers in order to trap and kill the Queen of the Light Kingdom. When Princess Avelayn’s mother was killed, she is to become Queen and continue the war against King Bain. She has pressures to restore peace to the kingdom as well as pressure to produce an heir. At the moment, she is single, struggling to morn her mother’s death, taking on the tasks of being Queen, and that war against the Dark Kingdom. The decade long war took both of her parents and she is new to her power, how will she handle the war?

I like seeing the easy life of a Princess and the pressure filled life of a young Queen. I like having a glimpse of the Queen’s meeting and how they strategize to come up with a plan to defeat King Bain. I like Lord Tanvir and his careful approach to love. I like Ceren and her easy going personality. I enjoy the humor and the cute romances. I like the air of mystery between Lorcan and his mother. Despite some slow parts between running and failed attempts before success comes, this book is still a good read and I do recommend everyone to read it.

Pro: actions & adventures, magic, strategize, fast pace, beautiful cover, humor, some romance

Con: location names are difficult to pronounce/remember, some slow parts

I rate it 4 stars!

***Disclaimer: Many thanks to the author Sara B. Larson, publisher Scholastic, and Edelweiss for the opportunity to read and review. Please be assured that my opinions are honest.

Jasmine at www.howusefulitis.wordpress.com for a detailed review
Profile Image for Alyssa.
1,069 reviews838 followers
October 5, 2017
3.5 stars.

***Review posted on The Eater of Books! blog***

Dark Breaks the Dawn by Sara B. Larson
Book One of an untitled duology
Publisher: Scholastic Press
Publication Date: May 30, 2017
Rating: 3 stars
Source: ARC sent by a fellow blogger

Summary (from Goodreads):

On her eighteenth birthday, Princess Evelayn of Eadrolan, the Light Kingdom, can finally access the full range of her magical powers. The light looks brighter, the air is sharper, and the energy she can draw when fighting feels almost limitless.

But while her mother, the queen, remains busy at the war front, in the Dark Kingdom of Dorjhalon, the corrupt king is plotting. King Bain wants control of both kingdoms, and his plan will fling Evelayn into the throne much sooner than she expected.

In order to defeat Bain and his sons, Evelayn will quickly have to come into her ability to shapeshift, and rely on the alluring Lord Tanvir. But not everyone is what they seem, and the balance between the Light and Dark comes at a steep price.

In the first book of a remarkable duology, Sara B. Larson sets the stage for her reimagining of Swan Lake -- a lush romance packed with betrayal, intrigue, magic, and adventure.

What I Liked:

I didn't hate this book, but I didn't love it. Words that everyone hates to hear, because they don't really mean a whole lot. Was this book really good until the ending? Was it a mix of positives and negatives? Was there one or two big things that threw everything off? In this case, there were positives and negatives. And I suppose the ending was pretty terrible (cruel), though it's so dramatic and ghastly and it leaves room for so much to happen in book two.

I've read Larson's debut trilogy (Defy, Ignite, and Endure), and I enjoyed the series. I have been pretty excited about this new book of Larson's for quite some time. I don't know much about Swan Lake, but I didn't care about that because the book sounded great, and I'd had good experiences with Larson's books in the past. This book, while fairly intriguing, was not Larson's strongest.

Princess Evelayn has just turned eighteen and gained full access to her power. She is thrust into ascending the Light throne when her mother is killed in battle, fighting King Bain of the Dark Kingdom. Evelayn manages to keep control of the Light, but she must quickly come up with a plan to defeat King Bain and his sons. But Evelayn is under a lot of pressure, especially to hone her abilities and to shapeshift. With the help of her trusted General, her best friend, and Lord Tanvir, Evelayn sets out to defeat her Dark enemy and restore balance with his heir, or die in the process.

It took a little while for the story to grow on me - and Evelayn as well. The story moves at a very slow pace initially, and I can't say I was all that interested. I think things started to pick up for me when Evelayn and Tanvir's relationship started to pick up. I'll get to that. Anyway, the story starts and follows Evelayn's ascent to the throne, and how she handles the pressure. It's so much pressure, to be thrust onto the throne without being able to grieve, to be thrown into the middle of a war, to be expected to be strong and without fear or weakness, to be expected to bind to a male and produce an heir. So, yeah, the story wasn't interesting at first, but then it really began to shape up with all of Evelayn's duties and worries and plans.

Evelayn seemed distant and cold to me at first, and I didn't really like her. But then I started to understand her better. She takes on an enormous amount of pressure, and the author makes perfectly transparent how much Evelayn struggles with it all. But Evelayn becomes a much stronger, commanding leader, as the story goes on.

This book is written in third person, and there are multiple POVs. We read from Evelayn's, Tanvir's, Ceren's, and even Lorcan's (the heir of the Dark Kingdom/son of King Bain). Evelayn's POV dominated, but Tanvir's was sprinkled throughout, and Ceren's (Evelayn's best friend). Lorcan's POV was the most boring. Lorcan has no affection or pity for the Light Kingdom, but he also hates his father. Lorcan is cold and sly, and an interesting but merciless villain of the story.

I adored Tanvir. He's just so good, and kind and noble and sweet. Don't get me wrong, he is also fiercely protective and war-hardened. He's the High Lord of a set of lands, but he is also a soldier and and very good with his power and his skills in fighting and battle. Tanvir almost seemed to be too good to be true, with his kindness and gentleness with Evelayn, but I rolled with it. I like him too much, and it's not hard to see why.

The romance is sweet. At first I thought it developed too quickly, but weeks pass before things really progresses. Time moves quickly in this novel, but we don't get to see each and every day. Tanvir and Evelayn are a great couple, and very good for each other. I like that Evelayn kept questioning why Tanvir wanted her, and I like how persistent and yet respectful Tanvir was. While this isn't a favorite romance of mine, it is a cute and shippable one.

I also liked Ceren's budding romance with the son of an important lord. So cute!

The ending is pretty cruel and I don't love it, so I won't really talk about it. But it's a cliffhanger. So I may read book two, especially since this is only a duology series.

What I Did Not Like:

There are a bunch of things that I didn't really enjoy about this book. I've already mentioned that the pacing of the story is slow. The beginning is dreadfully boring. You know it's bad when you don't even care that an important character just died (Evelayn's mother). I really only started to get interested when Evelayn's feelings for Tanvir start to progress.

This story is kind of cliche. The girl magically comes into her powers when she turns eighteen. There is a Light Kingdom and a Dark Kingdom (i.e. some kind of balance). They are at war. There is always a war. The King of the Dark Kingdom is an evil caricature. Honestly, this book is full of cliches, and they weren't necessarily welcome ones. I didn't mind, but I also didn't like them.

I'm also very confused about the species of these people. They aren't human - they are Draíolon, and I have no idea what that means. It would appear that some of them have blue skin and lavender hair and strange-colored features? I'm not really sure. I couldn't get a handle on the physical aspects of the Draíolon, or anything about them, really. They are magical, immortal, and there is a balance of them. That's about it. I'm very confused about what they actually are though.

Honestly the world-building in general is a little confusing for me, or just completely absent. It seems like a typical, cliche YA fantasy world, and yet, I really couldn't get a good grasp of the world. There were so many strange things that seemed out of place. Maybe I'm missing something?

I'm not all that convinced that there won't be a love triangle! I love Evelayn and Tanvir and I ship them so hard, and there is no hint of a love triangle in this book. But because Lorcan and his brother Lothar also have POVs in this book (in addition to Evelayn and Tanvir - and Ceren too, not that she is part of this), I'm a little nervous. Lorcan seems like an off-his-rocker kind of villain, but Lothar... I could see the author somehow working Lothar into Evelayn's path. They have never met and she has never seen him before, but I just have this feeling. You know? I want to write off Lorcan altogether but somehow, Lothar... he has too much pity and sympathy for Evelayn. Despite not knowing her and her never having seen him before. I'm just not convinced. I don't know though.

The ending! How cruel! Will it stick? I highly doubt it (on several aspects), but how knows... the author has blown the story wide open, which is great if you're the author, but not great if you're the reader. I am not a fan of the ending but I do respect the author for going for such a risky ending.

Would I Recommend It:

I can't say I fully recommend this book, even if you are a YA fantasy fan. It's an interesting concept - a Swan-Lake-inspired fantasy tale about a girl who has loved swans all her life and has taken on the difficult task of ruling the Light Kingdom. This book wasn't totally impressive though, and it wasn't always fun to read (sometimes I was bored or just didn't care). I'd either wait until the second book publishes, since this is part of a duology, or skip the series altogether. While I enjoyed some aspects of the story a lot, I can't say that this is a new favorite or a life-changing story.


3.5 stars -> rounded down to 3 stars. It's an okay book, but not great, and certainly not worth gushing over. I really wish I was gushing over the book because I was very prepared to be doing so, but ultimately, I'm a little disappointed. I think I will still read the conclusion though!
Profile Image for Rissa.
1,380 reviews48 followers
July 31, 2017

This was a beautiful and unique retelling of the Swan Lake. I love swan lake and this is beautiful and intense, filled with magic, trainning and love. I loved the magic element it was described so perfectly that i could picture everything that was happening.
Profile Image for Sandra (LadyGrey Reads).
587 reviews91 followers
July 4, 2017
"Duty is an unforgiving taskmaster and often comes with a steep price, especially for those left behind."

You might not know this, but I am a big fan of classic ballet. Swan Lake is definitely one of my absolute favourites - but because of that I love it so much and I've seen quite a few average-to-terrible retellings of it out there, I was a bit apprehensive about this book. But when you're down with a fever but still want to read, audio books is the way to go - so I decided to give this a go.

Unfortunately, I think it could have been done a lot better.

I missed the world building that was there in the Defy-series. I seriously had so much trouble keeping track of how this world looked and where things were and how the people looked - as they're not human. The romance could also have been done a lot better. It was not quite insta-love, but almost. If there's some sort of "mate" thing behind this (due to them being not human) then that might make more sense, but I didn't catch that. And the characters fell a bit flat - especially when comparing it to the characters in Defy, which you kind of do since it's the same author.

I did like the magic, though, and the history hints about how the magic had been divided that were glimpsed here and there. And I also liked the fact that this is a duology and that what we all know as the story of Swan Lake actually does not start until the very end of this book. And that bit was quite intense and interesting, so I will most likely pick up the next book once that comes out. Maybe not right away, but I will get around to it eventually.
Profile Image for Kimberly (Deity of Books).
57 reviews186 followers
May 25, 2022
What caught my attention about this was the beautiful cover and it was a retelling of Swan Lake, but I was very disappointed by it. The overall plot I don't remember too much. It was very boring and predictable. The characters were bland as well. The one thing I liked was the magic system. It was very interesting and somewhat unique.

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Profile Image for Jaime (Two Chicks on Books).
825 reviews400 followers
April 12, 2017
Such a beautiful and heartbreaking story! It's not all heartbreaking though there are times of joy and laughter and romance! I can't wait for the second book in this series and I believe I might be crushing on Lothar lol
Profile Image for Brittany (Brittany's Book Rambles).
225 reviews455 followers
Shelved as 'dnf'
March 28, 2017
DNF @ 2 Chapters in

I tried so hard to get through this book and I just couldn't. The writing was melodramatic and I couldn't stand the main character. The story could be wonderful but I never got far enough to find out because I wasn't able to get past how immaturely this is written.
Profile Image for Lisa.
810 reviews455 followers
March 3, 2017
Read up to 30 percent then skimmed til the end.

This book has a few big problems. The first is the world building. There's a race of people called Draiolon...this group of people are barely explained. Are they the main race? What makes them different - as far as I can tell only long lives and either Light or Dark magic. This could absolutely be explained later, but to be in the dark about this aspect of the book in the first third of the story is very odd and off-putting.

Then there's the writing style. The story is written in third person omniscient and arbitrarily switches from the main character, Evelyn, to her love interest to her best friend to a nemesis. There's no rhyme or reason and the switches can happen mid-chapter. Nothing is gained from this perspective and I think one or two main points of view would have better served this novel.

Finally, there's the plot. There was very little meat to the book, and I just couldn't connect with romantic set-up. It all felt very bland and basic.

I so wished I had loved this one! :/
Profile Image for Réh.
13 reviews17 followers
May 26, 2017
No world building, insta love, no character dev, "I want to throttle and kiss her" wow how sexy, black ppl are the enemy, white ppl are the pErFeCt ones. So many elements taken from the worlds of SJM?? Like is that normal I thought they were pretty unique to SJM. 😂

I might come back with a full review 😂 might not because of how boring and blagh this book was.
Profile Image for Suzzie.
906 reviews164 followers
July 23, 2017
I was really hoping to like this a lot more. I looked forward to this book for awhile. It wasn't bad by any means but I did struggle with getting into this one. The ended set up for a potentially good finale for the last book of the duology.
Profile Image for Christina.
215 reviews29 followers
April 3, 2017
Review Originally Posted on Books & Prejudice

In case you didn't know, this is a retelling of a prequel to the fantastic Swan Lake. Yes, that Swan Lake.

We start with Evelayn on her eighteenth birthday, having just come in to her power. Her mother, the queen of Eadrolan, is away at war, even though she promised she wouldn't miss her daughter's maturing.

I'll get to the point and talk about a few different aspects of the book. First, the magic. I thought it was a really interesting idea to have the king or queen be the conduit for the magic, so that no one else could in the kingdom could use it without them. If the royal died, the magic had to be reclaimed for the kingdom through a specific ritual. The magical conduits being jewels made me think of The Girl of Fire and Thorns, which was totally okay, because I love that series. But it was completely different from that. While the dark kingdom held power over all that was dark and cold, the light kingdom held power over anything light and warm. They were more powerful in the sun, while the dark was more powerful in the winter or at night. The dark's powers materialized as shadows, while it was the opposite for light.

Really, the magic was pretty interesting. And I'd love to see more of it in the next book and delve even deeper.

Of course there are the people themselves: the Draíolon (I think that's how you spell it?) are a people that live to hundreds of years. Their skin is all kinds of colors, form alabaster white, to ebony black, to shades like purple.

So this started off right with Evelayn meeting Lord Tanvir in a rather comical manner. And they become fast friends. Things take off from their as the war between the light and dark worsens. I loved how Evelayn handled everything with what she had been through. I loved how she took charge and basically told her generals and advisors to screw themselves when they told her she needed to get married and have babies to continue the royal line. And I love how both males and females fought alongside each other in the war.

I really enjoyed this one, and I can't wait for the next one. If you like the ToG series, you'll probably enjoy Dark Breaks the Dawn. Now for the year wait...

Character: 5 stars
Plot: 5 stars
Writing: 4 stars
World: 5 stars
Feels: 5 stars
Total - 5 stars

Note: I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
Profile Image for Aila.
911 reviews32 followers
May 14, 2017
If you're looking for an intense fantasy with fierce characters, then look no further.

Set in a glorious and lush setting with a myriad of colors - as characters' skin and hair colors range from rich cerulean to pitch black - this retelling of Swan Lake fulfills the chase for a passionate adventure for fantasy readers. There's powerful magic, a battle between light and dark, a journey to somewhere dangerous, and a smoldering romance with a mysterious suitor. Although some parts are predictable, with a "been-there-done-that" attitude, the execution and context of it was unique enough to keep those elements enjoyable to read.


"This was the Evalyn she knew and loved - the one that no one else ever saw. When other Draíolon were around, she was demure, collected; she tried to be the perfect princess everyone expected her to be. But in private, she was still the same girl Ceren had grown up with."

"'Stop telling me that you know better than I do what would make me happy or not. My whole life, everyone has always told me what I can or can't do - what will make me happy or not. Or rather, what will make my people happy or not. Can't I just have THIS? This one thing, with you, that's just for ME?'"
Profile Image for Jan farnworth.
1,263 reviews82 followers
October 25, 2017
I got a copy as part of the tour hosted by Around The World Arc Tours . This is a dark retelling of a fairy tale that i seen does as a cartoon and told in a few different ways. I thought that the author did a great job of sticking to the basic parts of the story but twisting it her own unique way. I did feel their could of been some more world building as this is only going to be two books so their not a lot of room to get all the story told. I felt that characters where set up very well and i was able to stay entertained through out the story. Their where some very intense emotional moments even with the book being on the short side. The ending is very heart breaking and leaves you eagerly wanting the next one so that the heartbreak can be resolved.
Profile Image for Samantha (WLABB).
3,333 reviews232 followers
June 1, 2017
At the time of her 18th birthday, the Light kingdom has been at war with the Dark kingdom for over 10 years. As she just gains access to her powers, Princess Evelayn is charged with restoring balance to this land, but will she be able to master her powers in time?

I was so excited that Sara B. Larson was writing another series. I was a HUGE Defy fan, and was not disappointed with her new novel. Once again, Larson gave us strong female lead in Evelayn, but under the surface was a young woman, who was struggling with the responsibilities that were thrust upon her before she was ready. Evelayn had just come into her powers, and had yet to master them, but now she was charged with saving her kingdom! That in and of itself was quite stressful, but then she was weighed down with being the last of her line, and was being pressured to marry and produce an heir as soon as possible. I don't know about you, but my head would be spinning, and Larson did an admirable job relaying those feelings to the reader. The stress, the worry, the panic; I really shared in all Evelayn's emotions, and really wanted her to succeed.

"And she had already been forced to become a queen, to shoulder the burden of a war, to learn to wield her power all at once...."

I found the world and its magical elements quite thrilling. The way they could smell emotions, and use light as a weapon. The way the royals could shift into animal forms, and even the rules associated with how the power was passed from generation to generation was quite intriguing. It was presented in small chunks, so as to avoid info dumps, and I thought Larson painted a vivid picture for me.

"Light and Dark Draiolon had been gifted their powers to bring day and night, summer and winter, to the world - to work together to create a perfect harmony."

The story is filled with many interesting characters, but I immediately fell for the high lord, Tanvir. I knew he was special from that first meeting between him and Evelayn, and my love for him just grew and grew from there. I was shipping those two from the start, and even though what happened happened, I still believe in this ship. After all, this is a fantasy, anything is possible.

"You're stubborn and headstrong, but you're also so determined...so brave. I want to throttle you and kiss you -- all at once."

The story moved along briskly, once the major plan to save the kingdom was hatched. There was plenty of action and harrowing situations to put me on edge, but that ending! There are two ways books in a series can end. The author can either close a story arc and open another OR they can leave you with a broken heart and a cliffhanger. Larson opted for the latter. I definitely shed a few tears there, and I do understand her choice, as this is only planned as a duology, but my heart! My aching heart!

One of my new favorite things is to read the afterword when I finish a book. That is where I learned about how this story was inspired by Swan Lake, and is sort of the prequel to that story. I have seen parts of this ballet performed, but didn't really know the story. What I have learned is that, there was a prince, who was hunting. He was going to kill this swan, but then she transformed into a human princess. The princess was under the spell of an evil sorcerer, and could only be saved by a prince, who would vow a lifetime of fidelity to her. I can easily spot the threads of Swan Lake woven into this tale, and appreciate Larson's interpretation.

Overall: A fast-paced journey into a new and lush world, ending in a somewhat heartbreaking cliffhanger, which left me wanting for the next book.

**I would like to thank Edelweiss and the publisher for the advanced copy of this book. Quotes are from an ARC and may change upon publication.

Profile Image for Fictional World Dreamer.
189 reviews66 followers
May 19, 2017
Well, wasn't that unexpected....

The beginning of this book was a bit slow. It wasn’t super engaging. It was, however, the world that grabbed me, the world in this book is set up in a way that is clear to jump into. Sometimes fantasy plots can get over complicated and dump a whole bunch of information, which eventually turns me off. It did take me a bit to get into it but in the end!


When it grabbed me, it grabbed me!!! OMG, it was great.
Sometimes you have to be patient to get to the good parts and this book was definitely one. Dark Breaks the Dawn is filled with compelling magic! With the good trying to protect its people from the bad.
There may be a possibility of a romance triangle. I know not many like that sort of thing. So a heads up on that.

The characters were great!
Evalyn is a competent, strong girl who places her family duties above all else. I am in admiration with each and every character in this story. Though I may be leaning more towards the bad side! HAHA
What can I say? My heart hurts for the bad boy with a hard life.


I really liked this book. It wasn't a drop dead, out of this world story. But it was enjoyable and a quick read. Which I will be talking about with my students. They love fantasy and this book is the perfect story.
Have you guys read this book yet? If you did, did you like it? Tell us below and we'll make sure to comment.
Profile Image for Jess ✩.
425 reviews37 followers
June 9, 2017
This book was a huge disappointment. I am mad I wasted money on it and wasted an audible credit on this mess. This was a mess of my least favorite tropes and also I noticed that it does the 'Dark skinned aggressor' trope. The fucking villains who are so so so EVIL ARE BLACK. And the good characters meaning our special snowflake princess Evalayn or however you spell her name is starch white. I'm so mad with this book, I'll have a ranty review coming up soon.

Review is up sooner than intended but, here it is!
Profile Image for Jennifer Kelly.
21 reviews55 followers
June 28, 2017
Exquisite!! Swan Lake has always been one of my favorite ballets for the dance, music and story. Dark Breaks the Dawn was inspired by the ballet but takes it to a whole new level in this story of light vs evil kingdoms. It's beautiful, fierce and absolutely heart wrenching! The end killed me! I can't wait for the story to continue in Book 2!!!
Profile Image for Athena of Velaris.
456 reviews123 followers
September 19, 2020
"No victory ever comes without sacrifice and loss."

Dark Breaks the Dawn is a loose Swan Lake retelling, set in a world of Light and Dark magic. Parts of this novel reminded me of Throne of Glass (the book, not the series), and I liked the writing style. The plot, though a lot of fun, was highly predictable, and the romance moved too fast. Evelayn, the main character, was nothing new, though I did enjoy reading about her. Also, this book had High Lords, High Priestess, and a character named Lorcan. I was constantly relating it back to ACOTAR and Throne of Glass, even though the setting and conflict were rather different. The side characters were fun, if a little dry, and the dialog was well written. Overall, I enjoyed this novel, even though it wasn't anything extraordinary.
Profile Image for Gabriela.
406 reviews216 followers
November 22, 2021
Actual rating; 3.75🌟

This book wasn't in my plans, I just had this urge to pick it up and before I knew it, I was already half-way through and couldn't stop reading.

My expectations were low and the only thing that made me want to read this book was the synopsis. Honestly, I'm glad I did, because even though it wasn't something new, I enjoyed it.

• Royalty Shapeshiters
• Romance
• Secrets & Betrayal
• War
• Dark and mysterious Prince
• Brilliant & brave female MC

It was quite an interesting, short fantasy book with lots of action and tension filled moments. I liked it enough to want to read the next installment.
Profile Image for Cassie James.
Author 8 books87 followers
April 27, 2017
Thanks to the publisher for providing an ARC in exchange for an honest review. This doesn't in any way influence my opinion on it.

Sara B. Larson has been on my must get list ever since the Defy trilogy. I knew her YA Fantasy series will be just as good if not better than her previous books as I was so right. Dark Breaks The Dawn is an amazing new addition to the ever growing list of great YA Fantasy books. With a lush writing style displaying the talent of the author and a pace that's just right, it's really hard to put the book down.
It began on the morning of the 18th birthday of Evelayn, the Crown Princess of Éadrolan (The Light Kingdom). As is customary, the full range of her magic is unlocked. Her kingdom is involved in a war against the dark kingdom Dorjhalon. The Light Draíolon (kinda like saying magician) can control heat, sunlight and light while the Dark Draíolon can control cold, shadow and weather. The tyrannical king of Dorjhalon, Bain is bent on defeating the light Draíolon and is willing to use any means to secure his victory. Due to a chance encounter with a High Lord,Tanvir (who was just recently titled) on the morning of her birthday. Evelayn is able to form a connection with him that further deepens during their dance at her celebratory ball and their training sessions. As Crown Princess, Evelayn has a lot of cool powers such as shapeshifting and really strong magic. After a rather terrible attack from the Dark Draíolon, Evelayn is forced to claim the mantle of leadership sooner than she expected.
Despite the many trials, obstacles and tribulations she had to go through I admire the way she handled it with wisdom and grace. She's shown wisdom beyond her age though it's still obvious she's a teenager. Her relationship with Tanvir is not without problems, But the connection between them is strong enough to withstand such. Reading about their preparation for battle/war was more entertaining than I thought it'd be. There are many amazing moments in the last half of the book that really stood out such as the visit to the Ancient spider-woman thingy.
This book is mostly about the growth of Evelayn both magically and mentally as she's forced into hard situations that require delicate handling. Learning along with her was quite fulfilling. It's not to say there wasn't enough action, oh no, there is total non stop action. Sometimes I even hoped she'd get the chance to just take a deep breath and process things (though her moments with Tanvir are like an oasis in the desert). The different POV's (Point Of Views) gave the book a nice refreshing pace (though Evelayn still got the most attention).
Many jawdropping twists and turns I couldn't even guess were coming unraveled towards the ending. I commend Sara B. Larson for elevating the tension and making the surprises truly gasp worthy. The ending itself was a perfect combination of joy and tragedy, I knew something bad was coming but I didn't expect it to go down like that.
I can hardly wait for the next book in this series. With the amazing heart pounding action, the brilliant magic system, delicious romance, adventure, lush and rich writing (as usual), and beautiful cover, Dark Breaks the Dawn is one book that MUST not be missed.
I highly recommend it.
Profile Image for L.
225 reviews27 followers
April 29, 2020
I... didn't enjoy any of this.

EDIT: There are spoilers in the comments below, so I put them up here so I could put them behind a spoiler cut. Consider this my review.

So, yeah. Not my thing. Oh, and all of this was from an ARC the final could have changes from the above!
Profile Image for Cathy | A Case Full of Books.
725 reviews32 followers
February 7, 2017
I won an ARC of this book at a book launch and I was so excited to read it!

Dark Breaks the Dawn is a retelling of Swan Lake. I was intrigued, but not knowing much about the original story meant that I didn't have any expectations about it.

In total honesty, I didn't love the beginning. It was slow and I had trouble understanding the world and the magic system.

But. Once I got the understanding under my feet and the action started increasing, I really enjoyed it!

And the ending? It leaves me wanting book two immediately, which is bad news, since this book isn't even officially out yet...
Profile Image for nat..
376 reviews182 followers
July 29, 2017
• it lacks on the worldbuilding, the multiple POVs kind of throws you off at first. and the magic system is nothing new.

• the romance was sweet ... like ... rotten teeth sweet (which is not a bad thing, just merely pointing out how sweet it was, but on occasions not my thing)

• and the characters are likable in their own way, and some you will forget after the book's done. but even after all that I was still into it.

so ... 🤷🏻‍♀️
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