ARC Review: Untethered by Kaylynn Flanders

About the Book:

Title: Untethered

Author: Kaylynn Flanders

Series: Shielded

Page Length: 464

Publication Date: July 20, 2021

Publisher: Delacorte Press

Synopsis: Although King Atháren’s sister, Jennesara, saved Hálendi from the Gray Mage, the reprieve came at a steep price–the life of their father. Now Ren rules over a divided kingdom, with some who want him dead, and a Medallion that warns of worse trouble brewing in the south.

As second born, Princess Chiara is the perfect Turian royal–perfectly invisible. She longs to help restore peace on the Plateau, but with no magic and no fighting skills, she doesn’t stand a chance against a mage. So when a member of the Turian royal family goes missing and Chiara finds a clue about the rumored resting place of the mages’ long-lost artifacts, she decides it’s time to be seen.

As Ren’s and Chiara’s paths cross, they find the depth of the mages’ hold on the Plateau is more powerful than anyone suspected, and that they must learn to trust themselves, and each other, before the mages retrieve their artifacts and become too powerful to ever defeat.

LINKS:     Goodreads    |      Amazon    |

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My Review:

Untethered is a brilliant sequel to Shielded, and I savored every heart-stopping second of it. The story begins several months after the end of Shielded. Ren is now king and adjusting to his new role in a kingdom where he can’t trust anyone. He deeply mourns the loss of his father and is struggling to figure out his place as the leader of his kingdom. When he feels an insistent magical pull toward Turia, where his sister now lives, he quickly arranges to leave.

While in Turia, Ren learns that one of the members of the Turia royal family is missing and potentially kidnapped. Believing she is the only one who can leave and help, Chiara starts a quest to find her family member. When Ren learns of Chiara’s disappearance, he vows to find her and bring her home. Ren and Chiara try to save their kingdoms and families from the evil pursuits of the power-hungry mages. This takes them on a dangerous and heart-stopping adventure and tests their limits, their loyalty, and their strength.

This is one of my most anticipated reads of the year, and I adored it! A story with amazing characters, a suspenseful and intriguing plot with several surprising revelations, and a wonderful love story, the book takes you on a total roller-coaster ride of emotions. I became so invested in the characters and their stories that the book was impossible to put down.

This story is primarily told from Ren and Chiara’s perspectives, though several other points of view are sprinkled throughout the story, and I loved the switch. As much as I love Jenessara and Enzo, who were the focus of Shielded, Ren and Chiara are just as compelling. Ren is a fantastic character, and I was eager to learn more of his story and how he adjusts to his role as king, especially since he doesn’t know who he can trust, and the kingdom is in such turmoil. He presents himself as a confidant and self-assured man, but it is a mask to hide the inner turmoil that burdens him. Ren is still mourning the loss of his father and, in a smaller way, the loss of his sister now that she lives in Turia with Enzo and his family. He is a young leader who is finding his way, and he struggles with self-doubt. Much like Chiara, Ren questions himself and his capabilities. Also like Chiara, he grows, changes, and becomes more self-aware and self-assured as the story progresses.

One thing was certain – I was done being afraid. I didn’t want to be invisible anymore. Didn’t want to fit into someone’s idea of a “perfect princess.”

Chiara is a great character too. In Shielded, Chiara said something to Jenessara that really struck me. “I feel trapped by who I’m supposed to be, who I want to be, and who people expect me to be.” Chiara struggles with these feelings in Untethered as well, and she tries to find her place in the world. She often feels unseen and unheard, invisible among family and peers. With so many obstacles to face in her journey, Chiara begins to believe in herself and find her purpose. Chiara and Ren both realize that they are capable of much more than what is expected of them. They both show such growth, grit, and determination and are strong leaders in every sense of the word.

The romance between Ren and Chiara is sweet and builds gradually throughout the story. They both feel they can be their true selves when they are together without fear of judgment or betrayal. There are no ulterior motives, and their trust in each other is implicit. This is the foundation for a deep and lasting relationship. The pair brings out the best in each other, and seeing them slowly grow closer is lovely.

I love when Ren, Chiara, and a new ally work together. They are each from a different kingdom, and they each have their own strengths, which they use to their advantage. They make a great team, and they identify with each other so well. Each feels out of place in their world and is struggling to define themselves in a society that has already chosen paths for them. This trio also treats each other as equals which seems important to all of them, as they are often treated differently because of their status, magical ability, lack of ability, and more.

In addition to the exceptional development, there are a few other things I love about the characters in the story. There is an abundance of strong and capable female characters like Chiara, her grandmother, her mother, Jenna, and Mari. Each shows such strength at different points in the story, and I think the messages of empowerment and equality shine through. I also like the anxiety rep and that the books realistically portray panic attacks. As a person with anxiety, I thought this was well done, and I so identified with the feelings the character had when struggling with anxiety and panic attacks.

The plot is as dynamically and intricately developed as the characters, and I was so invested in the story. As Chiara and Ren travel across countries, try to rescue someone close to them who has been kidnapped, find the Black Library, defeat the evil mages, and more, they face extraordinary obstacles. The world is vividly created, and the imagery is strong.

You don’t get to take my choices from me.

Themes of redemption, trust, friendship, choice, loyalty, believing in oneself, and never giving up even when things seem impossible are intricately woven throughout the story. I also love what the story says about family and the bonds (or tethers) that tie people together. These bonds are the most important parts of Ren and Chiara’s lives. They continually prove that relationships are complicated and messy, but it’s also unbelievably rewarding and fulfilling.

Untethered is an excellent read and an epic continuation of the series. It is a high-stakes adventure with deftly developed characters and intricate world-building, and I can’t recommend it enough. With an epic quest, dangerous adventure, tons of intense and suspenseful action, unique and interesting riddles, and antagonists who will stop at nothing to gain power, the plot is engrossing, well-paced, and immersive. Plus, there’s that romance!! I’m so thankful to Delacourte Press, Nicole Banholzer, and KayLynn Flanders for a copy of the book in exchange for my honest review.


Favorite Parts:

  • The romance! It’s slow-building and lovely.
  • The immersive plot and setting is super captivating and entertaining.
  • The dynamically developed characters are compelling and layered.
  • The magical elements are really unique.
  • The messages are strong and relevant

Favorite Lines:

The worst part wasn’t seeing her true nature. It was that I hadn’t realized she’d been wearing a mask in the first place.

No matter how you might wish it, a kingdom does not rise or fall on the shoulders of the king alone.

A pure heart is the strongest magic of all.

My kingdom could survive without me. But the entire world might break if something happened to Chiara.

My heart remembers what my mind does not.


Want to learn more about the series? Check out my review of Shielded!

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