I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
This particular book was written by a father and daughter team, so before getting to the book I would like to congratulate the daughter on writing. It’s good to see a father encouraging and helping his daughter out, and regardless of how the review turns out I do hope she keeps writing. What she writes at fourteen and what she writes at twenty-four will be very different, and skills can only be honed through practice.
That said, I will be reviewing the book as it stands on its own, because in the end no matter the age of one of the authors the product will be judged based on its quality. Its what you have to prepare for when you publish.
The basic story of this book isn’t too unfamiliar. It follows a young girl in a fantasy world as she joins a group of powerful fighters. I’ve seen a few books like this. Whereas most books like this spend half of the book just getting the main character into the group, Ariella joins her group relatively quickly in this one and the plot revolves more around a blood curse that is poisoning all of the crops.
I do think the book missed some opportunities. When Ariella first ended up in a “Knot” with Eleazar, I thought it would have been cute if she had said that growing up with her brothers had prepared her for it, especially since her brothers had been so over the top. Eleazar isn’t the first annoying boy that she’s dealt with.
I also would have liked her to react to Micah’s personality more. She thought he was cute, which was fine. She had a crush. But no matter what he did that didn’t seem to sway at all. He’s cute, and therefore it doesn’t matter what kind of personality he has. This happens in a lot of novels. I would have enjoyed it if she became disenchanted with him when she finally got to know him. It doesn’t matter how cute someone is, if they’re always frowning they aren’t going to be much fun to be around. I rarely see this done and it would have been nice, especially to acknowledge that personality matters in attraction, too. Plus, if she’s been daydreaming about him, it could really burst her bubble to see that he wasn’t anything like she had imagined.
It doesn’t even mean that she could never like him. She could grow to like him for who he really is, but that’s a lot different than the simple “He’s hot” route.
There was a part where Ariella first met Karlov and she woke up and told him to address her by her title. As it is it seems like the only purpose for this is to cause tension, and there’s no real explanation for it. Not long before she had been telling her captain how it was fine to call her “Ariella” because she wasn’t going to have the title anymore soon, so demanding that someone use her title not long after that seemed to contradict how she was previously. This could have been easily fixed, though. She had just been ‘drugged’ or whatever, and had just woken up. If she had done it because she forgot where she was or was groggy and out of it, that would easily explain why she was suddenly demanding him to use her title. Left as is there’s no real explanation for the sudden shift.
I was waiting for awhile for Ariella to comment on Eugenie’s lack of manners. Being a noble isn’t simply a matter of always doing whatever you want. Imagine for a moment if Ariella’s mother acted like Eugenie did. She wouldn’t be very well respected or liked. Nobility could be considered like medieval politicians, and there are those who are clever and charming and those who greatly fail at being either. The thing is, in a place where being a poor noble could get you assassinated, your reputation would be pretty important. Being a princess, Ariella would be well aware of that and is in the best position to comment on it, and it would make sense for her to mention that Eugenie was lacking in the etiquette expected of nobles.
One last thing I had hoped for was when Ariella decided to spy on her mother and the other monarchs during their meeting. I had hoped that she would bring her mother in on it.
There were a lot of errors in this book. Missing periods, capitalization problems, commas and periods used in the wrong places, wrong words, extra spaces… It does need a serious edit because the errors were all over.
All of that said, it was a pretty fun book. The characters were mostly enjoyable. Though there are ten in their Knot the story mostly follows a few of them, which is a good thing. When a book isn’t very long there’s not enough time to develop a ton of characters. I didn’t find myself getting annoyed with Ariella much, and thankfully even though the story starts with her crush on Micah it isn’t the focus of the story. It barely gets mentioned throughout most of the book, which was a relief. Too many books like this have the protagonist obsess over a guy she likes. There was a hint of, “Why doesn’t her opinion of him fluctuate at all?”, but it’s not brought up enough to ruin the reading experience.
The plot was interesting and it didn’t waste too long getting into it. As I mentioned before, most books like this spend a good portion of the time moving their protagonist into the new group, and then they have to start up the plot after their character finally gets there. Because Ariella pretty much goes straight there the plot is able to start up right away. The soil and crops are being fill with blood and all of the food is withering, putting the country in a state of peril as they run low on food. A situation like this would be devastating pretty quickly, so the stakes are high.
Each of the characters get a chance to do something, which is good. There’s never a feeling that one character is standing around doing nothing or letting everyone else think of everything. This is a problem in a lot of books, especially books with female protagonists, where they’ll wait for everyone else to make the decisions. It didn’t feel like the extreme opposite, either, where Ariella was the only one capable of doing anything. It struck a good balance.
The book also did another good thing. Though it’s a series, it didn’t just stop in the middle of the plot. It wrapped up the plot for that book and carried onto the next thing. Too many authors these days think writing a series means writing one story, chopping it up and then selling it separately. To me that’s like chopping up a single fruit and calling it a fruit salad.
Each book should have a satisfying conclusion for that book and there should be a good reason for it to be separate from the rest. This book had a comfortable beginning, middle and end even though there’s clearly more to wrap up in the future.
I would be interested in seeing what happens in the next book in the series. I hope the problems in the first book get cleaned up.
I give it a 7/10.