Review: “The Wrath and the Dawn” by Renee Ahdieh

Review: “The Wrath and the Dawn” by Renee AhdiehThe Wrath and the Dawn by Renée Ahdieh
Series: The Wrath and the Dawn #1
Genres: Fantasy, Young Adult
Published by Penguin Group (USA) Incorporated on May 12th, 2015
Format: Hardcover
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One Life to One Dawn.

In a land ruled by a murderous boy-king, each dawn brings heartache to a new family. Khalid, the eighteen-year-old Caliph of Khorasan, is a monster. Each night he takes a new bride only to have a silk cord wrapped around her throat come morning. When sixteen-year-old Shahrzad's dearest friend falls victim to Khalid, Shahrzad vows vengeance and volunteers to be his next bride. Shahrzad is determined not only to stay alive, but to end the caliph's reign of terror once and for all.

Night after night, Shahrzad beguiles Khalid, weaving stories that enchant, ensuring her survival, though she knows each dawn could be her last. But something she never expected begins to happen: Khalid is nothing like what she'd imagined him to be. This monster is a boy with a tormented heart. Incredibly, Shahrzad finds herself falling in love. How is this possible? It's an unforgivable betrayal. Still, Shahrzad has come to understand all is not as it seems in this palace of marble and stone. She resolves to uncover whatever secrets lurk and, despite her love, be ready to take Khalid's life as retribution for the many lives he's stolen. Can their love survive this world of stories and secrets?

Inspired by A Thousand and One NightsThe Wrath and the Dawn is a sumptuous and enthralling read from beginning to end.

I wrote this review, and then I rewrote it. Because I wasn’t happy with the way the review turned out so much more negatively than I think I really felt about the book as a whole. And my post-reading reflection has really made me see the story in a new light (I wish I could reread it!).

I do think that perhaps the book is a bit over-hyped, because my expectations were up * HERE * (through the roof and up in the clouds!), while my experience reading it was much more mellow than I think I was expecting — what I was expecting being fiery hate turned to passionate love, breathless action and deceit hiding around every corner, and my heart being torn to bits by the romance.


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Yet this wasn’t the book I read at all; the book I read was a lot less flashy and fast-paced, but instead goes about carefully crafting a beautiful story in its own way. I don’t want to dump a bunch of metaphors on you guys, but I’ve thought of one that really represents quite well how I feel about the story and I can’t get it out of my mind. The Wrath and the Dawn is a lot like savoring an elegant, fine wine (or so I would imagine) — you take small sips as you come to distinguish the taste and are surrounded by the aroma, and it’s not until you finish the glass that you are affected by its potent, heady pull.

The rich and well-imagined setting drew me into a seductive world of intrigue, beauty and mystery. Never did I question if I was actually there in the story, because Ahdieh’s lush description and imagery surrounded me and really appealed to all my senses. You can feel the hot sun and blowing sand, smell the fragrant scent of flowers enveloping the courtyards, and taste the mouthwateringly delicious platters of food that are served. (Ohh guys, the food. THE FOOD. You will need to eat something while reading this, I guarantee it.) You will feel the silky touch of gossamer silk and the weight of the heavy mantles and jewels worn, and truly see the ornate magnificence of the palace and the beauty of the clothing.

Shahrzad (Shazi for short) is such a refreshing heroine who won all of my respect and admiration. Seriously, I would hug the girl if I could for being all that she is. I appreciate her to the moon and back for not underestimating herself like the plague of other heroines out there. She’s quite talented and very clever, and has incredible inner strength and mental fortitude. Most importantly, she believes in herself and doesn’t put herself down. Though at times she can be a bit brash and her stubbornness occasionally affects her ability to see things clearly, I had no doubts as to why the entire palace was so taken with her.

“You are not weak. You are not indecisive. You are strong. Fierce. Capable beyond measure.”

But what I really wanted to see more of from Shazi that I felt like I never truly got was her love for her friend Shiva. When I saw that she was volunteered to be the Caliph’s next bride to avenge her best friend’s murder, I was so ready for the best friend feels. I was ready for the heartbreaking Shiva flashbacks to start rolling in, to grieve alongside Shahrzad and fuel my own murderous anger towards Khalid. And I got but maybe two half-hearted memories and a few sentences of apostrophe directed towards Shiva.

Which brings me to the mighty Caliph of Khorasan, eighteen year-old boy-king Khalid. Khalid was not all all the person I was expecting, and there is much more to him than meets the eye. His horrid reputation precedes him, as he’s constantly described as a ruthless murderer, a true monster. Yet not once did I feel these things were true. Just from the synopsis alone, we are told he is incredibly different, “a boy with a tormented heart.” The prologue tells us that we should question the reason behind his “senseless” killings. He is incredibly jaded, has an exterior of stone, and a simmering temper that is fearsome when provoked. Yet it would be a mistake to think of him only as we are told (“monster”) or as he appears (cold). I think I clung to this portrayal far too long, and sometimes failed to see the truth. He has incredible depth as a character that must be unearthed bit by bit, revealed in its own due time. 

“Trust that the man you see now is a shadow of what lies beneath.”

The romance is the heart and soul of the story, and it is beautiful. Despite the adverse circumstances, the two have an instantly palpable chemistry, which initially leads to butting heads but slowly develops into captivating romance. I felt the love, and to me Khalid and Shazi seem to have an deep understanding of each other on another level, even when their secrets were like a gulf between them. Their romance is a fragile thing, intimate and dear, yet prone to destruction from so many forces. In so many ways their relationship is very serious and adult, so on my part, at least, there was no swooning or squealing. But it is still a force to behold, filled with emotion, subtlety, and intensity.

“I know love is fragile. And loving someone like you is near impossible. Like holding something shattered through a raging sandstorm. If you want her to love you, shelter her from that storm…And make certain that storm isn’t you.”

There are so many interesting side characters that I loved, though I do wish we had more from them. I liked humble and wise Omar, eccentric and caring Musa, sassy and sharp Despina, and so many more characters. I have a huuuge soft spot for Jalal, the captain of the guard who is Khalid’s cousin. His curls, his confidence and teasing, and his trust and insight wormed their way into my heart. Then there’s Tariq, Shazi’s childhood friend and first love who tries to “rescue” her. He’s misguided in so many ways, and while his sense of being entitled to having Shazi and not really listening and trusting in her nettled me to no end, I couldn’t help but feel a bit sorry for him. Shahrzad’s family, on the other hand, could’ve used more fleshing out. I felt the least connected to them by far.

The pacing is what was tough for me, because it is unique and different from what I was expecting. It takes some time to establish the setting and the characters, and for so long nothing seems to happen that isn’t described in the synopsis. I think this is what kept getting me distracted and putting down the book. Sometimes the plot seems to flounder, meander. But what I think I recognize now is that because it is the romance that is central to the story, and must be carefully developed, the plot is bound to be slow. But the end part was GREAT — so much action, and all the potential finally fulfilled! I still can’t help but wish that it didn’t all have to be withheld to the end. It’s like I saw all that Ahdieh was capable of writing, but confined only to the last part.

AND THERE IS A HEARTBREAKING CLIFFHANGER. I liked its delicious torture, though I’m actually pretty confused about things. View Spoiler »

I think my biggest complaint is that I just wanted MORE. Of a lot of things. Which isn’t entirely awful. As a matter fact, the book even started to deliver on it near the end, and I actually have a good deal of faith that book 2 WILL deliver.

Also, PSA: the very important glossary is wedged BETWEEN the end of book 1 and the sneak preview to book 2.  Oh, if only I had known!

The Wrath and the Dawn was not the book I was expecting to read, but it slowly drew me in until its ending pulled me under.

Intoxicating, beautiful, and full of secrets.


ARC Review: “Legacy of Kings” by Eleanor Herman

ARC Review: “Legacy of Kings” by Eleanor HermanLegacy of Kings by Eleanor Herman
Series: Blood of Gods and Royals #1
Genres: Fantasy, Historical Fiction, Young Adult
Published by Harlequin Teen on August 25th, 2015
Format: eARC
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Imagine a time when the gods turn a blind eye to the agony of men, when the last of the hellions roam the plains and evil stirs beyond the edges of the map. A time when cities burn, and in their ashes, empires rise.

Alexander, Macedonia’s sixteen-year-old heir, is on the brink of discovering his fated role in conquering the known world but finds himself drawn to newcomer Katerina, who must navigate the dark secrets of court life while hiding her own mission: kill the Queen. But Kat’s first love, Jacob, will go to unthinkable lengths to win her, even if it means competing for her heart with Hephaestion, a murderer sheltered by the prince. And far across the sea, Zofia, a Persian princess and Alexander’s unmet fiancée, wants to alter her destiny by seeking the famed and deadly Spirit Eaters.

Weaving fantasy with the salacious and fascinating details of real history, New York Times bestselling author Eleanor Herman reimagines the greatest emperor the world has ever known: Alexander the Great, in the first book of the Blood of Gods and Royals series.

I received access to this galley for free from Paper Lantern Lit’s Trendsetter program through Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

I must admit, when I saw everyone across the blogosphere getting excited for Legacy of Kings, I saw the appeal but couldn’t really share the excitement. I’m a tad ambivalent when it comes to Historical Fiction — I don’t really seek it out, but every once in a while a synopsis will catch my interest, though the book will usually go to the bottom of my TBR pile. Legacy of Kings also has fantasy elements, but it reads primarily like historical fiction.

I’m gonna be honest here — Legacy of Kings wasn’t really my cup of tea. While it undoubtedly has things going for it, like the plot and world building, I felt that it had some major flaws that prevented me from really getting into it for the most part.

Legacy of Kings promises a lot on the historical side of things, and it definitely delivered it. Somehow I never remember learning anything in great detail about Alexander the Great in history class besides his empire — but evidently, I was missing a lot. Herman takes some historical details about Alexander’s youth — like his best friend (Hephaestion), his royal parents, and his betrothed (Zofia) — and brings his story to life. The world building is quite sound, and really transports the reader to Ancient Greece and Persia. So many details throughout the book show that Herman really did her research, from the ancient Greek clothing and armor to the luxurious Persian perfumes and oils.

As for the story itself? I have so many different feelings about it, they hardly even make sense to me. 

For reference, the story is told from about 7 different POVs: Kat, a peasant girl with secrets; Jacob, her foster brother who is in love with her and seeks to prove himself; Alex, heir to the throne and quite insightful, yet frustrated by his lack of power; Heph, Alex’s loyal and proud best friend; Cyn, Alex’s half sister who rejects her destiny and strives for more; Olympias, the “evil” queen and Alex’s mother; and Zofia, who is engaged to Alex but flees her palace to try and be with the man she really loves.

Whew. And that was just a bare-bones description.

When I step back and think of the story that was told, I’m amazed. That Herman manages to weave so many stories into one is pretty incredible. In some senses, the world really comes to life because we hear from so many different perspectives and have so many pieces of the story. You just get to know so much.

Yet the book’s structure overall just didn’t work for me. Immediately upon starting the book, I noticed that it was written in third person, present tense. Noting the tense and narration style at the beginning of a book is not something I almost ever do consciously. Yet it was so completely jarring for some reason that most of the time I never felt truly immersed in the book. It was always “Kat does this, Alex does that, Heph is over here doing this”… It was weird. I felt very much outside of the book while reading it, and that is not how I want to feel when reading.        

The strange narrative style, combined with having so many POVs, really made the characters fall flat for me. Not only did I never really feel like I was there with the character when I was reading, but the POVs were also switching pretty frequently, especially in the beginning. I never really felt emotionally invested in the characters or their relationships. Characters can make or break a book for me, and in this book they definitely didn’t do it for me.

I guess if I didn’t feel for the characters, it should only follow that I wasn’t really into the romances. But it was more than that — the romances kind of felt like a mess to me. The “main” romance between Kat and Jacob starts in the very first pages with their first kiss, so I felt like I never really got to see the romance develop. Their romance feels like it should be quite central to the story, but it feels a lot like a mere plot device and is never really given enough focus. Meanwhile, there were multiple hints of romance at other points in the book that felt unnecessary and out of place. It felt like a love triangle formed out of nowhere, for no good reason. I wasn’t really shipping anyone together, and it all felt pretty jumbled. 

There were some bright spots to the multiple POVs — like getting to read from the POVs of the “villains.” Most books, you never really get to know what the supposed “enemy” is up to, yet here we get peeks that give us their motives and snippets of their actions. Storyline-wise, my favorite POVs were Zofia and Kat: Zo because I loved the Persian setting and her runaway plot line, and Kat because she was the most relatable and the core of the magical elements in the book that make Legacy of Kings more than just historical fiction.

So it’s kind of hard to really say how I feel about the book overall. I think that readers who love historical fiction will just about devour the book, because getting a peek into a reimagined history of Alexander the Great’s youth is just to good to pass up. But for me, it was hard to get past the narration style, and I was pretty disappointed in the romances and the fact that I didn’t feel anything for the characters. The pacing is also on the slower side, and while it was fascinating to see all the pieces of the POVs come together at the end, I had mostly already guessed the big reveal.

A fascinating look at a reimagined history, but I was disappointed by the way the story was told, and was let down by the characters and their relationships.


Review: “Stormdancer” by Jay Kristoff

Review: “Stormdancer” by Jay KristoffStormdancer by Jay Kristoff
Series: The Lotus War #1
Genres: Fantasy, Steampunk
Published by Macmillan on September 18th 2012
Format: Hardcover
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The Shima Imperium verges on the brink of environmental collapse; an island nation once rich in tradition and myth, now decimated by clockwork industrialization and the machine-worshipers of the Lotus Guild. The skies are red as blood, the land is choked with toxic pollution, and the great spirit animals that once roamed its wilds have departed forever.

The hunters of Shima’s imperial court are charged by their Shōgun to capture a thunder tiger – a legendary creature, half-eagle, half-tiger. But any fool knows the beasts have been extinct for more than a century, and the price of failing the Shōgun is death.

Yukiko is a child of the Fox clan, possessed of a talent that if discovered, would see her executed by the Lotus Guild. Accompanying her father on the Shōgun’s hunt, she finds herself stranded: a young woman alone in Shima’s last wilderness, with only a furious, crippled thunder tiger for company. Even though she can hear his thoughts, even though she saved his life, all she knows for certain is he’d rather see her dead than help her.

But together, the pair will form an indomitable friendship, and rise to challenge the might of an empire.

Gaaaah. How to review this book? Reviewing books you love can take a long time but it’s immensely satisfying; reviewing books you know exactly why you didn’t like can be simple, and even cathartic. But reviewing the books that you did mostly enjoy but had some flaws that you aren’t sure how to feel about? Incredibly frustrating, because you want to air out all your feelings, but you also need to impossibly pin down exactly how you felt about the book without giving the wrong impression.

With that said, I want to start off with my assurances that I really did enjoy so much about Stormdancer.   Some of the complaints I have about the book aside (well, they’ll be later on), I’m so glad I read it after reading some great reviews for it — they’re just so much about it that I’m glad to have experienced.


To me, one of the inescapable facts about Stormdancer that makes it so great is how it just feels so much like a story that unquestionably needs to be out there in the world. It’s a little bit indescribable, really. You know those books that you finish and think, why is this published, really? Never did this cross my mind when reading. If I were the editor or agent who was reading Stormdancer as a manuscript, I would’ve immediately found my assistant and yelled, “Get me Jay Kristoff on the phone!”

Stormdancer just feels like this rich, epic tale, fully-formed and imagined, that I somehow can’t believe wasn’t already in existence until Kristoff created it. I think it’s a mix of a lot of things: the Japanese mythology come to life, the use of Japanese words and hints of its ancient culture, and the incredibly seamless world building. A lot of time (and a glossary in the back) is dedicated to transporting the reader to the Isles of Shima, and it pays off. I feel like I really know the kingdom of Shima inside and out, and that I could tell you how everything in its society works.

Yet I won’t sugar-coat it — the beginning was really slow going, and I was tempted to DNF. There’s an action-packed prologue flash-forward to keep you turning pages until you reach the moment where it actually happens, but it’s tough going. Because I’m the kind of reader who has to know everything, I spent a lot of quality time with the glossary in the first part (eventually, I felt comfortable enough with everything to stop checking it). It’s great to learn so much about the capital city of Kigen and about Shima, but even after the “impossible quest” begins, I had yet to come across something that would truly make me want to keep reading. The power dynamics and the environmental issues were intriguing, but I barely managed to keep going on the promise of a legendary thunder tiger…

….a promise which delivered 110%. Seriously guys, Buruu is where it’s at. Why the kingdom of Shima worships anything else besides thunder tigers is beyond me.

“It was power personified. The storm made flesh, carved from the clouds by Raijin’s hands […] The hindquarters of a white tiger, rippling muscles bound tight beneath snow white fur, slashed with think bands of ebony. The broad wings, forelegs and head of a white eagle, proud and fierce; lighting reflected in amber irises and pupils of darkest black.”

He is proud, he is fiercely loyal, and he is everything. His abrupt and honest way of speaking and his banter with Yukiko is powerful, heart-warming, and hilarious. Trust me (as I trusted reviewers before me) when I say that Buuru is what brings this book alive and gives it heart. Enemies at first, Yukiko and Buruu form an unbreakable bond like that of siblings and would surely die for each other. Their unified fight for freedom is what drives this book.


But while I loved Yukiko and Buruu together, and the epic richness of the story, there were other things that held me back. Often times I felt like the writing wasn’t always as sharp and powerful as it could’ve been. Kristoff uses a LOT description in some of his passages — description that didn’t always flow easily and was actually descriptive to the point of distraction. My sister read it too, and she whole-heartedly agreed with me. I would read a few pages and then put it down, and almost forget to come back to it. I read this book INCREDIBLY slowly, which really isn’t my style. And even after the initial slowness of the beginning, much of the rest of the book never moves that fast, either. This is not a book to rush through, but rather to savor.

Some of my disappointment was also wrapped up in the romance. For most of the book it didn’t even matter much, which I was fine with. Then we got hints of a romance from two different guys. One was so see-through and cliche that I hoped it wouldn’t happen, and the other was quiet yet intriguing. But instead of being well-developed, I felt like the romances served more as plot devices (as another reviewer mentioned, and I truly agree with it).

What else can I say? Despite its flaws, I know I will eventually read the entire series. And I don’t think I’ll regret it, either. Something about the story and the way it is told is frustrating, but also incredibly compelling. A slow burn. I was just short of satisfied upon finishing the book, but I have my hopes that with the world-building set and the plot in full motion, the next two books can potentially jump right in and be faster, tighter, and maybe develop the romance better.

The writing and pacing sometimes bog the story down, but the epic richness of the story and the magnificence that is Buruu makes everything so worth it. I hold high hopes for the sequels.


ARC Review: “Uprooted” by Naomi Novik

ARC Review: “Uprooted” by Naomi NovikUprooted by Naomi Novik
Genres: Fantasy, Young Adult
Published by Del Ray on May 19th, 2015
Format: eARC
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“Our Dragon doesn’t eat the girls he takes, no matter what stories they tell outside our valley. We hear them sometimes, from travelers passing through. They talk as though we were doing human sacrifice, and he were a real dragon. Of course that’s not true: he may be a wizard and immortal, but he’s still a man, and our fathers would band together and kill him if he wanted to eat one of us every ten years. He protects us against the Wood, and we’re grateful, but not that grateful.”

Agnieszka loves her valley home, her quiet village, the forests and the bright shining river. But the corrupted Wood stands on the border, full of malevolent power, and its shadow lies over her life.

Her people rely on the cold, driven wizard known only as the Dragon to keep its powers at bay. But he demands a terrible price for his help: one young woman handed over to serve him for ten years, a fate almost as terrible as falling to the Wood.

The next choosing is fast approaching, and Agnieszka is afraid. She knows—everyone knows—that the Dragon will take Kasia: beautiful, graceful, brave Kasia, all the things Agnieszka isn’t, and her dearest friend in the world. And there is no way to save her.

But Agnieszka fears the wrong things. For when the Dragon comes, it is not Kasia he will choose.

I received access to this galley for free through Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Gaah, this book was so good! Is it weird that I want to read it again already? This book is just so rich in every way. I don’t even feel like I need it to be a series because as a standalone it was perrrrfect.

I really want to make a point of not going too much into detail about the plot, just because I really like the synopsis — it was enough to intrigue me, and at the same time reveals little about much of the book’s plot. Uprooted was such a compelling read that I didn’t need to know exactly where the plot was going; I trusted what Novik was doing, and it was thrilling to be surprised with so much action and unexpectedness! Besides, I have so much more to rave about…

One of the first things I noticed about Uprooted was how much it reminded me of some of my favorite books — in the best way possible! In no way did this lessen the book, and it instead serves as more of a testament to how, in my mind, it already stands among the fantasy “giants.”

The Dragon and Agnieszka loosely reminded me of Howl and Sophie from Howl’s Moving Castle (the movie version by Miyazaki, actually, because I haven’t gotten around to reading the book yet!): a cold and withdrawn wizard, an unassuming yet spirited girl, and a romance that will make you feel ALL THE FEELS. I could seriously swoon over it and ramble on about it for quite a while, but I’m going to restrain myself and leave it at this.  

I was almost immediately reminded of my last favorite fantasy reads (and some of my favorite books of all time), the Grisha trilogy. Uprooted‘s the Wood reminded me of the Fold, only incredibly more insidious, intentionally evil, and, perhaps most disturbingly, awake and aware. * shivers *

“‘There’s something worse than monsters in that place: something that makes monsters.'”

“‘The power in the Wood isn’t some blind hating beast; it can think and plan, and work towards its own ends. It can see into the hearts of men, all the better to poison them.'”

What I will say about the plot, speaking in generalities, is that it was spectacularly fast-paced, and, again, rich. Not even a quarter of the way in I was amazed by the intensity of the action (but boy, if I had only known how much it would escalate!). There was no real waiting for the book to really begin, or the feeling that the action had to be carefully doled out and stretched to last the entire book. I will say though, that the climax seemed to come only slightly before the ending, and the final bit was much more of a “quiet” ending — but honestly, it was probably needed after such a non-stop pace.

The descriptions of magic in Uprooted are just gorgeous. And somehow so easy to understand as well — instead of my eyes just skipping over these parts, I just want to read them all the more closely.

“Instead it seemed to me that the sound of the chanting became a stream made to carry magic along, and I was standing by the water’s edge with a pitcher that never ran dry, pouring a thin silver line into the rushing current.”

The same could probably be said for Novik’s writing in general. It is quiet yet beautiful, and somehow manages to carry such weight in everything it says. Maybe it’s for this reason that Uprooted seems to be on the fast-track to greatness, and has been called “as elemental as a Grimm fairy tale.”

“No one was enchanted beyond saving in the songs. The hero always saved them. There was no ugly moment in a dark cellar where the countess wept and cried out protest while three wizards put the count to death, and then made court politics out of it.”

My favorite character, hands down, was the Dragon. Agnieszka is a likable narrator and MC and not undistinguished herself, but the Dragon is an indelible character who drew my attention like no one else. His presence was sorely missed in the parts he wasn’t in, and I loved his cynicism, biting wit, and closely guarded vulnerability.

“He wasn’t a person, he was a lord and wizard, a strange creature on another plane entirely, as far removed as storms and pestilence.”

“‘If you don’t want a man dead, don’t bludgeon him over the head repeatedly,’ the Dragon snapped.”

“The dragon hissed with annoyance: how dare a chimera inconvenience him, coming out of season.”

“He was staring down at the dough trying to keep his scowl, and flushed at the same time with the high transcendent light that he brought to his elaborate workings: delighted and also annoyed, trying not to be.”

Uprooted is probably my favorite book of 2015 so far, and definitely one of my most favorite fantasy novels of all time. I’m also starting to think that what makes Uprooted so much like some of my other favorite fantasies is its true sense of place, even in a fictional world. This is some incredible, effortlessly nuanced and layered world-building right here, and it’s fantastic. I had that lovely, immersed-in-another-world feeling that only truly great fantasy novels can give you. I felt like I knew the kingdom of Polnya and it’s neighbors. I strongly suspect there may be a map in the finished, physical copy, but if there isn’t, SOMEONE NEEDS TO GET ON WITH MAKING IT. (Ok, maybe I should stop now, haha…)

If you treasure fantasy, look no further. Uprooted will sweep you away (or more accurately, knock you breathless).


Review: ‘Of Poseidon’ by Anna Banks

Review: ‘Of Poseidon’ by Anna BanksOf Poseidon by Anna Banks
Series: The Syrena Legacy #1
Genres: Fantasy, Legends, Myths, Fables, Love & Romance, Young Adult
Published by Macmillan on 2012-05-22
Format: Paperback
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Galen is the prince of the Syrena, sent to land to find a girl he's heard can communicate with fish. Emma is on vacation at the beach. When she runs into Galen—literally, ouch!—both teens sense a connection. But it will take several encounters, including a deadly one with a shark, for Galen to be convinced of Emma's gifts. Now, if he can only convince Emma that she holds the key to his kingdom...

Told from both Emma and Galen's points of view, here is a fish-out-of-water story that sparkles with intrigue, humor, and waves of romance.

This book definitely surprised me! While I was expecting your average mermaid tale, what I got was a fierce and funny story featuring the Syrena. Of Poseidon is witty and light — so it was the perfect vacation read for me!

Though I usually find it distracting to read on planes, this book drew me in within the first few pages. Between Anna Banks’ humorous writing and the great dialogue, I liked all of the characters from the get-go. 

Emma is especially brilliant, definitely ranking as one of my more preferred MC’s. The reader gets to see a lot of Emma’s internal dialogue (which is hilarious, by the way), but I was never annoyed by her. She strikes a fine balance between bewildered and taking-things-in-stride when it comes to accepting her possible Syrena heritage, managing to be appropriately confused while also keeping her calm. This really made Emma stand out to me among the crowd of YA MC’s that completely flip out when they discover they might be a little more than human. Of course, her fiery temper and desire to do exactly what people tell her not to just because it irks her also make her a little bit of a rebel and all the more likable.

Rayna, Galen’s sister, is quite belligerent and has a temper that puts Emma’s to shame. Rayna provides for some of the funniest scenes in the novel, whether she is teasing her brother or attempting to fend off the advances of her accidental fiancé, Toraf, though she doesn’t find him as completely detectable as she makes out (it’s a long story). She definitely rocks her secondary character status and adds some spice to the novel.

And then we arrive at the love interest, Galen. Ah, Galen, you are the perfect guy — but perhaps too perfect? The boy possesses rock-hard abs, violet eyes, super-speed, a considerable amount of concern for Emma’s well-being, and a pretty strong protection instinct. Sometimes he really come across as too good to be true — but to be fair, he isn’t really your average teenage human anyway. As he enrolls in high school to try to stick around town and convince Emma of her heritage, the contrast between him and other guys his age is even more startling. While he does have his humanizing moments (failing at his math homework, for instance), and his frustration with Emma is understandable and even endearing, he still seems unbelievable at times.

But when it comes to romance, oh boy does this book deliver. However unbelievable Galen make come across at times, his chemistry with Emma is obvious — as a matter a fact, it’s even legendary. Yes, the intense attraction these two is called ‘the pull’ among the Syrena, and is thought to attack one’s true mate, though it is said to be myth. Due to royal obligations their romance is forbidden, but that doesn’t stop these two from falling for each other, though they stubble to fight their feelings.

Though it pains me to do so, I feel that a connection to this book must be brought up. I saw a few too many parallels between Galen and Emma’s romance to Edward and Bella’s in Twilight.  Not in the sense that it wasn’t original per se, but that it brought up some things that nagged me just as when I read Twilight. Forbidden romance, a chemistry that is impossible to resist (practically written into their DNA), guy who is not in high school enrolling just to stalk (okay, maybe a bit harsh) the girl, guy with an extreme protection instinct… these elements to their romance had me worried that they would turn out to be another Edward and Bella in an unrealistic and possibly unhealthy romance.

But really, I had nothing to worry about. Galen and Emma ARE NOT Edward and Bella because of their drastically different personalities that change their love story into something different (and much better). In retrospect, I’m kinda embarrassed two compare the two (but really, my brain couldn’t help it! There were just so many similarities). Galen has a rather positive attitude about everything, and I’m not sure he could pull off brooding and silent even if he tried. And Emma, of course, is anything but passive and would be disgusted with herself if her life became unlivable without Galen. Emma’s spunk and refusal to comply with Galen’s orders really won me over and made their romance unique.

I also loved the twist that Banks added that made Of Poseidon different from most ‘mermaid’ books. Though not explicitly Greek mythology, the Syrena are divided into to houses, with one descending from Poseidon and the other from Triton. Tons of history is also spun into the story (Banks is obviously a history buff!). Ever wondered about the lost city of Atlantis or wished to visit the shipwreck of the Titanic? Let’s just stay that you’ll love this book.

A great romance, a kick-ass and hilarious MC, elements of history/mythology, and an ending that completely surprised me. Odds are that I’ll be checking out the sequel!