Book Review: The Decoy Princess by Dawn Cook

Decoy Princess by Dawn Cook

Title: The Decoy Princess

Author: Dawn Cook (aka Kim Harrison)

Series: Decoy Princess #1

Genre: Fantasy

Rating: 3/5 stars

The Overview: Princess Contessa of Costenopolie knows everything a royal should about diplomacy, self-defense, politics… and shopping. She ought to. She had every reason to believe that she was groomed to rule. But her next lessonis in betrayal… The sudden arrival of her betrothed, a prince from the kingdom of Misdev, has forced Tess’s parents to come clean: She’s no princess. Their real daughter was raised in a nunnery for fear of assassins. Tess is nothing but a beggar’s child bought off the streets as an infant and reared as a decoy. So what’s a royal highness to do when she discovers she’s a royal target? Ditch the Misdev soldiers occupying the palace, use magical abilities she didn’t even know she had, restore the real princess to the throne, and save her own neck. But first, Tess has to deal with the scoundrel who’s urging her to run away from it all, and the Misdev captain who’s determined to thwart her plans… -Goodreads

The Review:

Dawn Cook (aka Kim Harrison) is one of my favorite authors. There was a point in my life when her Truth series (written as Cook) was my favorite fantasy and The Hollows was my favorite urban fantasy. And this was BEFORE I discovered they were one and the same person. Talk about mind blown. In any case, while my tastes have evolved, I’ll still always love her works. This little duology was the only thing I hadn’t yet devoured…

And it was fun. :)

It’s one of those fantasy books that would be a great transition novel from YA to adult fantasy. It didn’t take itself too seriously and all the characters were fun and animated. I especially liked the hidden plot (involving a secret society) and hope she expands on that in the next novel. 

Even so, a couple of things kept me from really loving it. For one, the main conflict of the story. I’ve read a lot of fantasy novels recently with dynamic court politics and somewhat ruthless rulers. The situation in this book involving the King and Queen was just so bubble gum and unrealistic, it made me stop taking the story seriously early on. It’s hard to describe without spoilers, but suffice to say they got themselves in a situation I don’t think would’ve ever happened if the castle was manned by guards and if the rulers actually had any common sense. They came across very naive and ignorant, and those aren’t usually characteristics I associate with kingdom rulers.

The only other bother was the love interest. Grown men don’t usually drop everything to blindly follow a stranger around indefinitely, even if she’s pretty. It made his character profile feel rather thin, as if he didn’t have anything going on before she became his whole focus. It was unrealistic, speeding up the relationship development for the sake of advancing plot more quickly, and I think the story suffered because of it.

It sounds like I’m majorly knocking the book, but really, I liked it overall and plan to continue. The issues were just too prominent not to mention, but didn’t really affect the story much more than in plausibility. I was able to just go with it and enjoy it for what it was. It definitely wasn’t bad, by any means. It just wasn’t as gritty as some of the books I’ve been preferring lately.

Recommendations: this is a light, fun read perfect for those wanting a transition between YA and adult fantasy.

Other books you might like:

by Niki Hawkes


Book Review: Dead Witch Walking by Kim Harrison

Title: Dead Witch Walking

Author: Kim Harrison

Series: Rachel Morgan #1

Genre: Urban Fantasy

Rating: 5/5 stars!

The Overview: Creatures of the night gather in the Hollows of Cincinnati, to hide, to prowl, to party, and to feed. Vampires rule. Bounty hunter and witch, Rachel Morgan keeps that world civilized. With serious sex appeal and an attitude, she’ll bring ’em back alive, dead, or undead.

The Review:

You might have noticed that I include five recommends with each of my reviews. When I’m considering which ones to choose, “Dead Witch Walking” somehow always comes to mind. It has long been a series that I pick up when I’m in the mood for a “solid” read. Not only is it one of the best urban fantasies on the market, it is also an exception example of many of the things I value in a book: fantastic character development, great world-building, an element of cleverness or humor, a love interest, and an engaging storyline. Harrison has become the ultimate go-to author for great urban fantasies.

Since books of this genre are often set in familiar cities during the present day era, you would think world-building aspects would be simple. Well, Harrison doesn’t do anything halfway. She gives us an urban fantasy set in the future where half of humanity has been decimated by a genetically engineered virus. Rachel Morgan, a feisty redheaded witch, is just trying to make a living in this alternate society of interlanders (the supernatural beings). Forever a magnet for trouble, she gets herself into one mess after another that requires a lot of wit and charm to get back out.

Although this series is not particularly fast moving, it is so character-driven that I was completely absorbed nonetheless. Totally engaging, there is not a single character that I didn’t like. Harrison is a master at creating dynamic and interesting characters – and for me, they are unforgettable. If that wasn’t good enough, she is also the official queen of sidekicks! I’ve yet to read a series in any genre that had such great companions for the protagonist. They really added a lot of fun to the story!

I have no complaints – I absolutely loved this series!

by Niki Hawkes

Other books you might like:


Book Review: First Truth by Dawn Cook

Title: First Truth

Author: Dawn Cook

Series: Truth #1

Genre: Fantasy

Rating: 4/5 stars

The Overview: Alissa doesn’t believe in magic. Her father’s stories about the Hold, a legendary fortress where human Keepers learn magic from the enigmatic Maters, are just that―stories. But her mother insists that Alissa has inherited her father’s magical ability, and so she must go to the Hold―the only place her talents can be trained. 

On her way, she crosses paths with Strell, a wandering musician from the plains. And though Alissa is not sure she can trust a plainsman, Strell has something she needs―one of her father’s old maps. Travelling together, they can reach the Hold before the snow sets in. But they don’t know that the Hold is nearly empty. Something is very wrong and someone believes that Alissa and Strell knows about a book called First Truth.

The Review:

As a whole, this series is one of my absolute favorites, despite the fact that nothing particularly “epic” happens throughout. Although the pacing of the story can sometimes be rather slow, I was so smitten with the characters that it didn’t bother me. While most fantasy novels tend to be more event or world-building driven, this book was all about highlighting the characters. For any of you who have read Kim Harrison’s (Dawn Cook’s alias) Rachel Morgan series, you know that she is exceptionally talented at creating characters we care about. On top of that, she really knows how to tell a compelling love story, which was actually my favorite element to this series. There’s just something magical about it that keeps me coming back to reread it over and over again. What’s more, the plot gets increasingly more interesting as the series progresses, creating a great momentum for the end of the story – so much so that I was up all night the first time I read it.

Overall, its incredibly charming. If you’re in the mood for a character-based, magic-filled, sweet love story, this is the book for you!

Recommendations: The cover I’ve featured is from the original publication. The covers they’re marketing the series with now are incredibly cheesy and do nothing to represent the story… don’t let them deter you from giving it a try!

by Niki Hawkes

Other books you might like:

  • “The Aware” by Glenda Larke
  • “The Heart of Myrial” by Maggie Furey
  • “The Magician’s Guild” by Trudi Canavan
  • “Dragon Bones” by Patricia Briggs
  • “Sorcery Rising” by Jude Fisher