About the Book:
Title: In the Jaded Grove
Author: Anela Deen
Series: Kindred Realms #1
Publication Date: April 15, 2021
Publisher: Fine Fable Press
Synopsis: Simith of Drifthorn is tired of war. After years of conflict between the Thistle court and the troll kingdom, even a pixie knight known for his bloodlust longs for peace. Hoping to secure a ceasefire, Simith arranges a meeting with the troll king—and is ambushed instead. Escape lies in the Jaded Grove, but the trees of the ancient Fae woodland aren’t what they seem, and in place of sanctuary, Simith tumbles through a doorway to another world.
Cutting through her neighbor’s sunflower farm in Skylark, Michigan, Jessa runs into a battle between creatures straight out of a fantasy novel. Only the blood is very real. When a lone fighter falls to his attackers, Jessa intervenes. She’s known too much death to stand idly by, but an act of kindness leads to consequences even a poet like her couldn’t imagine.
With their fates bound by magic, Simith and Jessa must keep the strife of his world from spilling into hers—except the war isn’t what it appears and neither are their enemies. Countless lives depend on whether they can face the truths of their pasts and untangle the web of lies around them. But grief casts long shadows, and even their deepening bond may not be enough to save them from its reach.
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The first book in the Kindred Realms series, In the Jaded Grove follows Jessa, a human, and Simith, a pixie warrior, a pair inadvertently bound together and trying to find a way to end the impending war that threatens to invade the human realm. Simith is tired of his battle-filled life and longs for a different, more peaceful future. But war always looms in his world, and he, one of the fiercest and most notorious warriors, is often in the middle of it.
Even under a banner of peace, his enemies saw him only as a monster.
Simith is wounded and fleeing from his enemies when he goes through a portal and meets Jessa. Their lives become magically bound, and, as the truth behind the wars between trolls and pixies emerges, Jessa and Simith must reevaluate all they know about the worlds they live in and the conflicts that threaten them both.
The story is broken up into three parts. In the first section, Simith goes through a portal to the human world, which is where he first meets Jessa. In the second, Simith returns to his world, and Jessa follows him. Here the reader is introduced to a fantastical place of pixies, pookas, trolls, fairies, and more. The final part explores both the human and supernatural worlds. I love that the settings are varied, vivid, and well-developed, from the sunflower fields of Michigan to the various settings in the supernatural world. I also love the reactions of both characters as they experience new things for the first time. When Simith first hears and sees a car, for example, and when Jessa first sees a troll, their reactions are fantastic.
The characters are also dynamically developed and intriguing. Details about Simith’s life and what led him to the portal that took him to the human world are devastating, riddled with anger and guilt, and complex. Jessa’s story, in turn, is tragic and moving, and the terrible events she’s experienced very much define her. A gifted poet, Jessa has lost her ability to write, and she closed herself off from the world. Her experiences with Simith, and the bond that they share helps to heal them both.
Grief was a lawless map. It had no true north. It had no logic or clear lines.
One consequence of Jessa and Simith’s magical bond is that their dreams reveal the other person’s memories. Jessa sees the tragedy that led to Simith’s ruthlessness. Simith, in turn, sees Jessa’s lovely yet lonely childhood, and her grief-filled world. Both characters understand, empathize, and accept each other completely, which I love. The pair teaches each other what it feels like to be accepted no matter what and that it is ok to trust and depend on others.
I am a sucker for a good romance, and this one is slow-building and lovely. Jessa and Simith are two wounded people who feel incapable of giving and receiving love. The pair has a strong connection from the start, but fear and feelings of unworthiness stand in their way. I love how they find each other and slowly learn to feel again. Though they are from different worlds and many obstacles stand in their way, they are tied together by a magical and an emotional bond, and this bond strengthens as the story progresses. They are stronger together, and they seem to offer the wisdom, strength, and support that the other so desperately needs. They also have an incredible amount of chemistry!
Every moment he spent in her company she became more luminous to his eyes.
Filled with action, adventure, and a few unexpected twists, In the Jaded Grove is an engrossing and immersive story. The world-building and the character development are fabulous, as is the political intrigue. And I liked the secondary characters almost as much as Simith and Jessa. Jessa’s best friend, her best friend’s love interest, Simith’s family, several troll leaders, and more add so much to the story.
I’m very thankful to Anela Deen for a copy of the book in exchange for my honest review, and I can’t wait to read the next book in the Kindred Realms series. Deen is a gifted storyteller, and I always look forward to reading her unique and beautifully written stories! I think readers who enjoy YA or NA fantasy and urban fantasy will love this captivating new series.
- The love story, of course! Simith and Jessa have a wonderful story, and I enjoyed watching their feelings for each other grow.
- The character development is strong!
- The dynamic world-building. It is vivid and descriptive and magical!
- The writing style. Deen’s style is immersive and poetic, and I absolutely love it!
Words had been a sword before she lost them, the false catharsis of inflicting pain on others-as if she could transfer some of her own by lashing out.
It was safer to drift rootless than to reach for a shore that might be torn away in another storm.
Love was such a strange creature, to reknit that which it tore apart with equal ease.
A broom is sturdy because its strands are tightly bound.
Some battlefields were impossible to leave, even after all the fighting had ended. No wonder she hadn’t been able to write a single poem in a year. Words had become fallen comrades, scattered like casualties.
She spoke of the rain like a sky of grief. Of the wind and missing voices. Of the drowning soul. Words could never fully articulate what it was to lose so much, but it sketched a shadow, like an afterimage from a nuclear blast burned onto the walls of her heart…It dragged her pain into the world like an incantation and made it real, a weight she could touch. She hadn’t realized it could be this way, that in admitting aloud–I am hurting. I am lost.–there was rescue.
No monster lives but for the evil others have done before him.
Love was such a strange creature, capable of mending what it once tore apart.