Saturday, January 18, 2014
Colour Wielders by Dawna Raver
Behind the Faerying Mysts, hidden from Mortal eyes, is a land where gods and creatures of myth and legend dwell. And in the Mortal Realm, their Princess is hidden away.
Quinn Sinclair lives an ordinary life with her less-than-loving mother in Conifer, Colorado, clueless of her true nature. On the night of her birthday, a staggering betrayal sends her life spinning out-of-control. As she struggles to pick up the pieces, a vision of a man with haunting tourmaline-blue eyes begs her for help, and she is transported into a Magykal battle-forever changing her life.
Arik Morgaine-Demigod bad boy and outcast of the Magykal Realm-tried to avoid contact with Princess Quinn for eighteen years, not wanting to make good on an old threat. But the fates have other plans. Arik can no longer deny his growing desire for Quinn, or the need to protect her from those wanting to control her burgeoning powers. Can the two of them come together and save the Magykal Realm from being destroyed by the Darkest of Magyks?
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This book was far more than I really expected, especially given that it's the author's first novel. While it does suffer a bit of freshman-effort awkwardness at times, the depth of the worldbuilding and the intricacy of the interwoven plots shows a strong grasp of the craft of story writing even at such an early stage of her career. There are so many layers here, and characters and creatures that are familiar from well known mythologies, yet are handled in unique and unexpected ways that keep the reader guessing and slightly off balance. By the end you're still not entirely sure who to trust, and whether or not this story will make it to the sort of HEA you'd normally expect from something that is so heavily a romance story.
Quinn is a very satisfying heroine despite the fact that she definitely has her faults. She's quite young, and it shows, but she's also courageous and not afraid to stand up for herself or for those she loves. Her youthful impetuosity and impatience leads her into trouble right from the start when she's just given her virginity to someone she really shouldn't have. Over the course of the story it's clear that her agreeing to such intimacy with Thaene compromises her and the larger situation to a significant extent. I liked that it wasn't treated as an irredeemable mistake - she doesn't necessarily become irrevocably bound to him in some way or anything because of it - but it's still made clear that it was a serious mistake and I don't know that we've learned all of the ramifications of it by the end of this book. I have a feeling that Quinn's refusal to play the victim and refusing to just let herself be used by everyone in her life will factor into how much it ultimately matters who her first was as well as many other things.
Arik is very much the textbook anti-hero in many ways. He's a rebel, and a borderline bad boy, but it's clear that his intentions are largely good and that he's on the side of the light even if his methods at times are rather unorthodox. He's been masterfully flirting with darkness for most of his life and managed to stay on the right side of the line, even if only by a hairsbreadth at times, and he definitely has the maturity and wisdom of experience that Quinn lacks. Still, he definitely has his flaws, starting with the huge chip he has on his shoulder regarding "the establishment" and how he feels he's been sorely used by his family and peers most of his life, not to mention the personal tragedies and regrets for poor decisions he's made that still haunt him. Because of all his issues, and because it's clear that he's a master at playing the political games that many of the others are playing, it's hard to tell with any certainty if he's really to be trusted. What is real and what is a ruse is a question I frequently found myself asking, particularly at the end.
Overall I felt the author did a superb job with the way she throws you into the middle of a situation without much explanation of what's going on and then drags you along for the ride without providing much more than cursory explanations for a long while. When done right it piques the interest, and makes you keep turning the pages to find out just what the heck is going on here, but it's a tricky balancing act because it can so easily tip the other way and alienate the reader instead and make them quit caring and stop reading. Ms. Reader definitely did it right in this book for I found myself sucked into the story right from the start and kept reading with growing fascination as the story slowly unfolded and the various cards in play were slowly revealed. Then just when it seemed that everything had been resolved and things seem to be heading toward at least a solid happily-for-now ending she throws us a major curve ball that turns everything upside down and makes you wonder all over again just what and who you should believe. Even though I know I should have been expecting another major twist, it still took me by surprise when it came and I couldn't help but stare at the screen in disbelief at how things were ending here. A gut-punch of a cliffhanger to be sure.
I'd definitely recommend this book to anyone who enjoys fantasy and/or paranormal romance, particularly those who like stories that use familiar mythologies as a base but give them a unique twist. Just be aware that you'll be left with as many questions as you're given answers and that the story is far from over at the end of this book. If that kind of thing bothers you, make sure you have book two handy to keep reading. I'll certainly be starting it sooner rather than later to find out what happens next. 4.25 stars to a great book and a very promising new author.
Note: I received a free copy of this book from the author in exchange for an honest review.