Threats of Sky and Sea by Jennifer Ellision

Threats of Sky and Sea by Jennifer EllisionThreats of Sky and Sea by Jennifer Ellision
Series: Threats of Sky and Sea #1
Published on 16 May 2014
Genres: Fantasy & Magic, Young Adult
Format: ARC
Source: Netgalley
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RRP: $20.00
3 Stars

Sixteen year-old Breena Perdit has spent her life as a barmaid, innocent to her father’s past and happily free from the Elemental gifts that would condemn her to a life in the Egrian King’s army. Until the day that three Elemental soldiers recognize her father as a traitor to the throne and Bree’s father is thrown in jail—along with the secrets from his last mission as the King’s assassin. Secrets that could help the King win a war. Secrets he refuses to share.
Desperate to escape before the King’s capricious whims prove her and her father’s downfall, Bree bargains with him: information for their lives. It’s a good trade. And she has faith she’ll get them both out of the King’s grasp with time.
But that was before the discovery that she’s the weapon the King’s been waiting for in his war.
Now, time is running out. To save her father’s life and understand her own, Bree must unravel the knot of her father’s past before the King takes his life– and uses her to bring a nation to its knees.

I was initially drawn to this book because it was about forbidden elemental-based magic. By all accounts, Bree was a normal child brought up by her father, having been told that her mother died in childbirth, and she was kept ignorant of her father’s complicated past. Bree and her father ran a pub or a inn in some backwater territory far from the palace and the king’s influence. But one day people came looking for her father, and spirited them both away tot he palace to face the king and his judgement.

While the beginning was slow to start with, once the main character, Bree, reached the palace, I began to enjoy it. I quite liked Bree as a character. I found her decisions were largely sound – or if not sound, at least rationally thought through. She was courageous, insightful, and understood that even if she didn’t know the game, she knew when she was being played. She was feisty, but mostly in her thoughts, being able to control her reactions to provocation. She seemed very much like a regular person. She wasn’t too stupid and she definitely wasn’t arrogant. As part of her character arc, she grew to understand how to manipulate others, which I really liked.

I really enjoyed the middle section of the book as Bree settled into her life at court, the manipulation from the king who seemed to enjoy toying with her, and forming meaningful relationships with both the Prince and Princess. The dynamics between characters were well-crafted, with one friendship blossoming from adversaries to close friends in a believable way, as the story gained momentum. I also found that the very chaste romance was understandable as well, even if it lacked heat.

I understand that authors – especially indie authors – write cliffhangers with nothing resolved specifically to sell future books in the series. I get that, I understand the purpose of cliffhangers. But I also recognise good and bad cliffhangers. I grew up reading Animorphs, and there is no cliffhanger that can hurt as much as having the book series you spent literally 5 years of your life  reading finish on an unresolved cliffhanger. I had read some very good cliffhangers and some cliffhangers that turned out to be complete and utter bullshit. My personal preference is for a  ‘breadcumb’ – where all the conflicts are resolved but a new conflict is introduced before the end of the book. The ending to this book, however, was a bad cliffhanger. And it was such a bad cliffhanger because I read it, and then a couple of days later I found myself wondering if I had finished the book. The ending cuts off at a really bad place, leaving things admittedly yes in high tension but also and most importantly unresolved. It is the classic definition of a TV serial cliffhanger, where the characters are left hanging on the edge of a cliff and ‘tune in next time!’ to see how they get out of it. But it was such an unremarkable version of this type of cliffhanger that I simply couldn’t remember it. I felt no satisfaction or any kind of closure upon finishing the book. I forgot that I had finished it. I’m pretty sure that’s a bad thing. And it’s such a shame, because there was room for maybe another page or two to truly wrap this section of the book up and lead into the second volume for those readers who wanted more. For me, although I liked Bree and the friends she made along the way, I won’t be continuing the series.

It’s 2023 and I am reviewing an ARC of this book I received from Netgalley in 2017 in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review. It’s been a long time coming, with other review books getting prioritised over this one, the actions of which I regret. I’m working through my old ARCs because I feel bad for never getting to them.

Nemo
Nemo

About Nemo

A lover of kittens and all things sparkly, Nemo has a degree in English Literature and specialises in reviewing contemporary, paranormal, mystery/thriller, historical, sci-fi and fantasy Young Adult fiction. She is especially drawn to novels about princesses, strong female friendships, magical powers, and assassins.

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