Author: Kaylynn Flanders
Page Length: 432
Publication Date: July 21, 2020
Publisher: Delacorte Press
Synopsis: For fans of Sorcery of Thorns and Furyborn comes a thrilling new fantasy about a kingdom ravaged by war, and the princess who might be the key to saving not only those closest to her, but the kingdom itself, if she reveals the very secret that could destroy her.
The kingdom of Hálendi is in trouble. It’s losing the war at its borders, and rumors of a new, deadlier threat on the horizon have surfaced. Princess Jennesara knows her skills on the battlefield would make her an asset and wants to help, but her father has other plans.
As the second-born heir to the throne, Jenna lacks the firstborn’s–her brother’s–magical abilities, so the king promises her hand in marriage to the prince of neighboring Turia in exchange for resources Hálendi needs. Jenna must leave behind everything she has ever known if she is to give her people a chance at peace.
Only, on the journey to reach her betrothed and new home, the royal caravan is ambushed, and Jenna realizes the rumors were wrong–the new threat is worse than anyone imagined. Now Jenna must decide if revealing a dangerous secret is worth the cost before it’s too late–for her and for her entire kingdom.
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When Princess Jennesara is betrothed, without her knowledge, to the prince of a neighboring kingdom in order to gain soldiers to help her kingdom, she resigns herself to her fate. On her journey to her new home, however, her caravan is attacked, and Jennesara must flee into the treacherous and magical forest that surrounds her.
Through her magic, she knows that her brother and father are dead, which means that she is the ruler of her kingdom. However, her life is in danger. She is being hunted by a powerful mage who won’t stop until the entire royal family is dead. Plus, she is far from home, and she doesn’t know who betrayed her. Jennesara must figure out where to go, who to trust, where her future lies, and how to defeat the evil that threatens her.
This is an adventure-filled story with strong world-building and wonderful characters. Jennesara is a dynamic and fierce protagonist. Trained to fight, she is impressive in battle, and this, along with her intelligence and magic, saves her many times in the course of her odyssey.
As Jennesara goes on a physical journey, she also goes on an emotional journey. Jennesara loves her country and does what is right for it, but she still has a mind of her own. She is an independent and kind young woman who thinks of others before she thinks of herself. However, she struggles with trusting people. This is understandable considering she is used as a political pawn, her family is dead, and her life is in grave danger throughout the story. I would change my identity and be slow to trust too. Jennesara has an interesting character arc, as she has spent her entire life hiding what she is (magically), and, for much of the book she must also conceal who she is.
The budding romance between Jennesara and Enzo is one of the highlights of the novel. Though they fight their feelings, it is obvious that they have a strong connection. I enjoyed watching them fall for each other, and their mutual respect, admiration, and desire said a lot about their characters.
Jennesara is not just falling in love with the prince, however. She is falling for his whole dynamic, kind family from grandmother to siblings. Their ease with and love for each other shines and reminds her of her familial loss. She longs for that type of bond, and this family reaffirms her need for connection. They are also the only people she truly trusts. They help Jennesara realize that, even though her tethers are broken, she can still feel connected to others, if she lets them in.
The antagonists were not as richly developed as the other major characters in the story. However, as this is the first novel in the series, I suspect we will read more about them in subsequent books.
The setting and the magic, however, are fabulously developed. I loved the descriptions of the wild that Jennesara fought her way through. The imagery and sensory language create a vivid and immersive world. The descriptions of the magic, especially Jennesara’s tethers, were amazing. The different abilities from healing people to creating a protective shield to using a magical ring to wield power are all fascinating.
Themes of maturation, selflessly sacrificing to save and protect others, fear of the unknown, and the need to be loved are at the forefront of the story. When I was reading it, different parts reminded me of other stories like Lord of the Rings and Frozen (conceal don’t feel). However, that didn’t deter from my enjoyment of the story. If anything, it added to it. It is a gripping and immersive read that I recommend to lovers of young adult fantasy. Thanks so much to Netgalley and Delacorte Press for a copy of the book in exchange for an honest review.
- The love story, of course!
- There were many strong female characters. I liked the positive way in which the author portrayed women.
- Jenessara’s relationship with her brother. They have a strong and beautiful bond.
- The fantastical elements. The magic, the tethers, the magical weapons, the shadow people – all of it was awesome!
Fans of young adult fantasy with a touch of romance and some cool magical abilities will enjoy this read!