In many ways this was a very classic fantasy tale. It's a little hard to explain but as someone who read a lot of pseudo-medieval/swordplay fantasy thIn many ways this was a very classic fantasy tale. It's a little hard to explain but as someone who read a lot of pseudo-medieval/swordplay fantasy through the years, the bones of this book were easy to see.
Darelynn Valeri, known as Dare, is a spirited, fierce and loyal young noblewoman who finds herself on the wrong side of fortune when she threatens the crown Prince. Prince Jasper is an easy villain - cruel, petty and vindictive there isn't much to him beyond that. Married to Dare's older sister Gwen he thrives on hurting others.
Of course his parents are the kindest souls, who don't see a reason to curb their son's increasingly cruel actions. I always hate royals like this; he is obviously a vicious person why would you leave him in power? By the end of the book he doesn't even make a secret of his vileness. Yet no one steps up against him openly.
Meanwhile Dare finds herself in "the Blights", a generic sort of slum area of the town surrounding the castle. Lawlessness, thievery and worse live in this place...not that Dare ever really experienced this. She stumbles upon the one man who can basically shield her from all the depravity of the Blights.
And from there it all sort of works it self out. Dare finds odd jobs that keep her busy, makes reluctant friends that keep her safe and builds a life she enjoys despite everyone (literally everyone) telling her the Blights were not a home a to build upon.
I spent much of this book waiting for a twist or inventive way to the writing, but neither occurred. The beats were predictable and the outcomes well tred. Which isn't to say I didn't enjoy the book - Dare is, aside from being extraordinarily lucky, at least able to recognize her limits after a while. She doesn't necessarily grow as a character here, but she learns an appreciation at least.
In the end the story and characters are somewhat one dimensional, but the book is an engaging way to pass the time quickly....more
More of a 3.5 for me as the outdated computer talk sometimes threw me for a loop. Let me warn any non-gamers or too young to remember how to run a proMore of a 3.5 for me as the outdated computer talk sometimes threw me for a loop. Let me warn any non-gamers or too young to remember how to run a program off of a floppy disk readers - some of this is downright silly sounding, but it's pretty true.
At first I found it hard to get into the characters. Zac spends a lot of time acting a bit too amateur to seem like a hard hitting private eye and Gwen seems to flippant to be a strong small business owner. Together, with Zac obviously falling for Gwen first, their conversations were a bit difficult to not roll my eyes at.
Also I'll be honest, the true villain here is so easy to spot I was a bit annoyed. A lot of time is spent on seemingly red herring distractions that I'm not quite sure when the plot decided those distractions were important observations. Especially when half the time Zac or Gwen out right says "This info is trivial and barely worth noting".
Spoiler: that isn't EVER TRUE of anything found out.
I did appreciate that Gwen was hesitant to trust Zac. He was blackmailing her into helping him then decided to add a personal relationship to that. It was a bit...squicky with the implications and Gwen was quick to point that out. He seemed perfectly fine with compartmentalizing and Gwen, like any reasonable person honestly, was like "um no? How do you not see the problem here?"
Overall I enjoyed the book enough to want to read book two THE CHILLING DECEPTION and see where this twosome goes....more
This was unexpectedly charming and moving. And relateable on so many levels.
For me I understood where both Sebastian and Frances were coming from; obThis was unexpectedly charming and moving. And relateable on so many levels.
For me I understood where both Sebastian and Frances were coming from; obligation vs. self is a common struggle (if not always so dramatically and prettily done).
At some point we're all faced with the question of what our dreams mean to us and how we can incorporate them into our lives. For Sebastian his dream was the harder of the two - even now it would be a harder dream to see fulfilled, even though the world has progressed in some ways.
I greatly enjoyed the kinetic feeling of the drawings as well. I read a (very) early advanced reader copy of this book (digitally no less), so I can't speak to how the images will look in print, but just from what I've seen they will pop. The colors are softer, with bright colors really coming off the page and catching you with the detail work.
In the end I found this book to be the perfect way to pass a couple hours and look forward to sharing it with my niece....more