Author: Eliza Tilton
Series: The Daath Chronicles #1
Genre: Teen Fantasy/Teen Religion
Rating: 2.5/5 stars
The Overview: Hopeless he’ll never be more than the boy who didn’t save his brother, 17-year-old Avikar accepts his life as the family stable boy, trying to forget the past. But when his sister, Jeslyn, is kidnapped, the thought of losing another sibling catapults him on a desperate quest. With his best friend by his side, and using the tracking skills he learned from his father, he discovers Jeslyn has been taken, kidnapped by one Lucino, the young lord of Daath, a mystical place thought only to exist in fables. And Lucino has plans for Jeslyn. His shape-shifting brethren feed off the auras of humans, and Jeslyn’s golden hue is exactly what Lucino needs to increase his power. The longer it takes Avikar to reach her, the more entranced she becomes with Lucino’s world, and the harder it will be for Avikar to set her free.
He failed his family once. He won’t fail again.
I broke my “only request one book from Netgalley at a time” rule for this book (five minutes after I created the rule, but who’s counting). The cover and the overview sold me immediately – how can you resist either one? For the first fifty pages or so, I feel like I got exactly what I signed up for: an amazing adventure, and endearing male protagonist, and a magical setting. Somewhere after that, however, the author made some plot choices that really brought the story down for me.
There were parts that were a bit preachy… and self-righteous. Whether you agree with the morals or not, it’s usually less effective to fling them at people. It was blatant and needlessly so, as I think the author could have easily integrated it into the story a little better. There is absolutely nothing wrong with having a theme or moral to your story, you just have to camouflage it because, generally, people don’t enjoy being preached to. The thing I found odd was that the story and characters provided a strong enough moral compass that the book really didn’t even need such heavy-handed drop-ins. And they really were just kind of clunked in there – each “thou shall not…” was delivered in a two-page passage, telling us things are wrong in a way that’s not likely to come across as anything but condescending.
More than once I have found myself reading an ARC because I felt a sense of obligation (rather than any real investment in the story). Imagine my delight when I realized I was picking up this book because I earnestly wanted to, not because I knew I should. About the third time it preached at me, that eagerness had all but vanished and I eventually had to force myself to finish it. All I can say is: what a shame. Tilton is obviously a very talented writer, I just think she decided the moral was more important than the story (which is great for a religious title, not so much for a teen fantasy).
Overall, allegorical stories just aren’t my thing and I probably won’t be picking up the second book. I actually don’t think the heavy moral overtones will bother many other people. I wouldn’t be surprised if the book got several four or five star reviews. It had a nice voice and overall plot, and even a few memorable characters with strong POV’s.
Recommended Reading: for those of you who don’t mind fantasies with religious overtones. Perhaps also to those who love fairytales but are in the mood for something slightly different.
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