Author: Jennifer Anne Davis
Publisher: Reign Publishing
Length: 219 pages
Source: Review Copy Provided for Review
While traveling to Fren, Allyssa and Odar are hijacked by a ruthless assassin who divulges a stunning secret that changes everything.
Trying to come to terms with this newfound revelation, Allyssa is taken to Russek and delivered into the hands of a malicious and twisted royal family. She finds herself an unwilling pawn in a risky political game that will either end with her death or the annihilation of her beloved kingdom. Unsure of where the lies end and the truth begins, she must survive the brutal family and escape the fortified castle, all the while coming to grips with her feelings for Odar.
In a kingdom filled with darkness, Allyssa enters a game where one wrong move means death, secrets hide around each corner, and it will take every ounce of cunning she has to survive
Protagonist: When we last saw Allyssa she along with Jarvik, newly revealed to be none other than Prince Odar of Fren, had been captured by an assassin and are being taken to Russek. Once they arrive Allyssa needs to keep her wits about her if she hopes to survive and save her kingdom from a dire war with Russek. Allyssa has quite a bit of growth in this novel, the horrors of Russek change her and what she endures there and what she has to do to stay alive will no doubt leave lasting scars. Honestly, with how dark this book is, I don't want to say that I liked Allyssa's growth and development in this book, but it was understandable. It was easy to see how things affected her and how it shaped who she becomes in this book.
Romance: There wasn't as much romance in this book as I expected. Actually so far this series in general has less romance than I had thought it would. Nevertheless, the romance that we do get is complex and real. At the beginning of the book Allyssa has to deal with a great many things, besides hoping to find a way to escape from her captor, she has to resolve her feelings for Jarvik, who she learns from her captor is actually the crown prince of Fren. A lot of the romance is Allyssa getting to know Odar as a prince and the heir to his kingdom and learning more about who he truly is. I don't want to talk too much, but I will say that this romance did mess with my mind a bit and it is far more complex than just do these two people have feelings for each other and can they try not to mess that up.
World Building: Guys, this book is DARK. I mean it has darkness right in the title, but even with the author forewarning me about it, it went places I didn't expect. While there is one line that luckily this story didn't cross, for the most part I was shocked at the level of gore and violence this book held and the darker themes it explores. One of the main features of this story is getting to know the country of Russek and the family of sadists that rule over it. We learn exactly why they're going after Emperion so hard and the events that lead to this seemingly apathetic country deciding to wage all out war in such a vicious and brutal way. The world building in this story is fantastic, it's so easy to picture how terrible the circumstances are and the tension for most of the book is just palpable. Usually in a story like this where the main character is taken hostage, it's easy to see how they might, and probably will, get out of it, however I definitely doubted if Allyssa would find a way to be free again. This author is one of the few that really drives home the consequences of her characters' actions and while she may strive for a happy ending for her protagonists she doesn't shy away from having them suffer a bit beforehand.
Predictability: This story messed with mys head in so many ways I can't even begin to tell you. I'm the type of person that when I read a story I try to pick up on every single little detail to see what conclusions I might draw for where the story is going to go. While there were a few things, including one prediction I made nearly two years ago when the first book was released, that I was able to predict, most of the time I wasn't quite sure how things were going to pan out. With this story as dark as it is, I didn't know who to trust, I didn't know who would pick up on things or if the author would go even darker with a few things. After chapter twenty I had a crazy prediction that luckily didn't come true but it took a couple chapters to be proven wrong and that tortured me every step of the way.
Ending: Honestly, I was a bit disappointed in the ending. While the ending itself was great, I was expecting much more of a cliffhanger, I mean there's a lot that happens at the end which I'll try to talk about in a spoiler free way in just a second, but the actual ending of this story doesn't have that gut wrenching twist or revelation I was preparing myself for, and actually, in my opinion at least, it just sort of plateaus. Don't get me wrong, I'm happy that I won't wait in agony for the next book, but even if the ending was good, great even, if you're expecting more and don't get it you're kind of disappointed. There is a lot that happens in the end though, the final climax was epic and has some of the darkest scenes, or really one scene specifically, in the entire story and afterwards there's a pretty substantial cooldown period that brings with it a lot of game-changing elements that will no doubt drive the final installment in this series.
Even with an underwhelming ending this book broke me. Very rarely does a book put me in a near catatonic state like this one did, and while I won't wait in agony for the next book, it did take me HOURS to even begin to formulate this review let alone start writing it down. I love this world, I love these characters, and I'm excited to see how this author will end off this amazing series.
About the Author:
Jennifer Anne Davis is the award-winning author of the bestselling TRUE REIGN series. After graduating from the University of San Diego with a degree in English and a teaching credential, she married her high school sweetheart. Jennifer is currently a full-time writer and mother of three highly energetic children. Her days are spent living in imaginary worlds and fueling her own kids’ creativity.
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