Narrator: Kim Mai Guest
Series: The Shattered Realms #1
Published by Harper Children
Published on 5 April 2016
Genres: Fantasy & Magic, Young Adult
Source: my local library
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Adrian sul'Han, known as Ash, is a trained healer with a powerful gift of magic - and a thirst for revenge. Ash is forced into hiding after a series of murders throws the queendom into chaos. Now he's closer than ever to killing the man responsible, the cruel king of Arden. With time running out, Ash faces an excruciating choice: Can he use his powers not to save a life but to take it?
Abandoned at birth, Jenna Bandelow was told that the magemark on the back of her neck would make her a target. But when the King's Guard launches a relentless search for a girl with a mark like hers, Jenna assumes that it has more to do with her role as a saboteur than any birth-based curse. Though Jenna doesn't know why she's being hunted, she knows that she can't get caught.
Eventually Ash's and Jenna's paths will collide in Arden. Thrown together by chance and joined by their hatred of the ruthless king, they will come to rescue each other in ways they cannot yet imagine.
I’ll start of by saying that Chima’s writing and me? Did not gel.
I am definitely not a fan of Chima’s writing. I know the adage is to show, not tell: but when important plot points are neither shown nor told, it kind of leaves me wondering what the fuck is happening.
There are also some very interesting scenes completely cut from this book – like, what did Big Bad Guy with a Heart of Gold say to the Magistrate to allow him to cut off all the women’s hair in the city? How did the Magistrate respond? (Keep in mind Jenna got to keep her special multicoloured long hair JUST BECAUSE… even though when she was disguising herself as a boy, and she should have CUT IT.) How did Lila escape those guards in the inn? How did she know Ash was being attacked in the school? How did anyone know Flamecaster was a name, not just a word?
Also, I didn’t like how the timeline kept jumping forward. Like, did we really need to see all of that stuff in the first part of the novel firsthand? Was it supposed to make an emotional connection? It could have been shown in flashbacks and kept everything in the present day. We jumped forward 4 years, then shortly after that, another number of months.
Holy moly did Jenna and Ash annoy me. They didn’t even meet until over halfway through the novel and then as soon as they did, literally their very first meeting, they were totally in love with each other. And people still pick on Twilight for being instalove! But this was like the author wanted to break some kind of instalove record – and succeeded! Literally the fastest, stupidest instalove I’ve ever read.
Apart from that, I liked Ash and found his story interesting, and he is largely why this book for me is 3 stars. I appreciated his hesitation in assassinating the king. It reminded me of Hamlet’s hesitation in killing his uncle, and it provided good, and more importantly, believable conflict. Surprisingly, for someone who prefers reading about female characters, I didn’t like Jenna. She was just too damn special, and then we didn’t get any of her point of view for ages, then she was in love with Ash, then when she escaped her prison she literally never thought about him again. Also, I like Ash because he clearly loves horses, and so do I.
I also wasn’t really drawn to the other primary female character, Lila. She literally kept popping up in unexpected places with little explanation. No one explained how a 17 year old girl in a clearly patriarchal society with a misogynistic king managed to get so close to the throne, and in such a trusted position. Destin was smart and insightful, so I liked him, but some scenes I imagined could have been quite interesting were cut.
While this book was largely OK-ish, it didn’t excite me to read more, and my dislike of Chima’s writing style, although palatable, doesn’t tempt me to continue with the rest of the Shattered Realms novels, or it original series the Seven Realms.
Also, one final point: the audiobook narrator, Kim Mai Guest, was inconsistent in her use of accents, and I found that distracting.