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I Belong


Early Review: Dark Breaks the Dawn by Sara B. Larson

Dark Breaks the DawnTitle: Dark Breaks the Dawn

Author: Sara B. Larson

Genre: YA Fantasy

Series: Untitled Duology (Book #1)

Publication Date: May 30, 2017

Format: Hardcover, 320 Pages

ISBN-10: 1338068695 (Scholastic Press)

ISBN-13: 978-1338068696 (Scholastic Press)

Reviewed by: Tara

Synopsis:

On her eighteenth birthday, Princess Evelayn of Eadrolan, the Light Kingdom, can finally access the full range of her magical powers. The light looks brighter, the air is sharper, and the energy she can draw when fighting feels almost limitless.

But while her mother, the queen, remains busy at the war front, in the Dark Kingdom of Dorjhalon, the corrupt king is plotting. King Bain wants control of both kingdoms, and his plan will fling Evelayn onto the throne much sooner than she expected.

In order to defeat Bain and his sons, Evelayn will quickly have to come into her ability to shapeshift, and rely on the alluring Lord Tanvir. But not everyone is what they seem, and the balance between the Light and Dark comes at a steep price.

Quick & Dirty: Prequel to a Swan Lake retelling set in a world of Light and Dark elves.

Opening Sentence: The jeweled forest blurred into a tapestry of color as Evelayn sprinted away from the castle.

Excerpt: No

The Review:

As soon as I heard that Dark Breaks the Dawn was a Swan Lake retelling, I knew I wanted to read this book. Once I got a few pages into the book and realized that the story was set in a world of Draíolon (who are essentially elves), I was hooked.

Evelayn is the crown princess of Eadrolan, the realm of the Light Draíolon. As the story begins, she turns eighteen and has access to her full powers. This book starts off in a somewhat light-hearted way as Evelayn explores her new-found powers and has a somewhat embarrassing run-in with a Draíolon who turns out to be a new High Lord. While Evelayn was somewhat of a special snowflake in terms of magic, she also worked hard to hone her non-magical skills. She trained hard for years to gain her speed and skill as a warrior. Still, it would have been nice to see her struggle a bit more to control the magic, or perhaps even fail at something magical. However, there was so much more to her as a character that I didn’t mind too much. The inclusion of Ceren, Evelayn’s best friend, and Tanvir, the love interest, allowed the reader to see the stress and pressure behind the veil of royalty.

I thought that the romance between Tanvir and Evelayn was adorable. The author included dialogue and action that made me understand why Evelayn fell for Tanvir. I loved that there wasn’t a love triangle and that the romance developed naturally, if quickly, over the course of the story. Some of the dialogue between them was somewhat overly formal, particularly when Tanvir was saying insightful or thoughtful things to Evelayn. I thought that Tanvir was a nice balance and steadying force for Evelayn and was rooting for them from their first serendipitous meeting.

The story is written in third person omniscient, which was confusing when the focus switched between characters in the middle of a chapter. Overall, it read well though and the switches weren’t overly distracting. I did enjoy the glimpses of Dorjhalon and its princes, Lorcan and Lothar, that were interspersed between the action taking placing in Eadrolan. I think that both Lorcan and Lothar were very interesting characters and I can’t wait to learn more about them in Bright Burns the Night. The chapters in Dorjhalon served to play with my expectations of what would happen, adding some mystery and tension to the plot. Some parts of the plot weren’t too difficult to guess but others truly surprised me. Only a few strands of the original Swan Lake story are used in this book, although the stage is set beautifully for book two, which will likely be more of a retelling. I would have liked to have seen a more fleshed-out backstory to many of the secondary characters. I think it would have brought them to life a little bit more and contributed to overall stronger world-building.

I loved how dark, treacherous, and wonderful this book became. The ending sets up book two very well and leaves the reader wanting more. Larson takes the Swan Lake mythology and artfully spins a new fantasy tale in Dark Breaks the Dawn that was dark and engrossing.

Notable Scene:

She stared at the target across the field and took a deep breath. Not too much, not too little, Evelayn coached herself as she lifted her hand. Aim with precision.

She called upon the power that had always been there, deep inside her. Only it wasn’t the same at all—it was like comparing the trickling of a tiny stream to the rush of a torrential waterfall. The tidal wave surged within her and out of her hand in a blast of light that exited her body with such force it knocked her backward off her feet, to land unceremoniously on the ground, breathless and embarrassed.

But also exhilarated.

That morning she’d been too overwhelmed, too shocked, to truly take in what she had access to now. But this time, she’d felt it—she’d felt all of it. There was so much power. Far more than she had ever imagined. And despite her ignominious start, Evelayn couldn’t keep herself from laughing with a surprised joy that filled her entire body.

“Are you all right, Princess?” Lord Tanvir was there, holding out his hand to help her up. But she ignored it, climbing to her feet on her own.

Untitled Duology:

1. Dark Breaks the Dawn (May 30, 2017)

2. Bright Burns the Night (TBA)

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FTC Advisory: Scholastic Press provided me with a copy of Dark Breaks the Dawn. No goody bags, sponsorships, “material connections,” or bribes were exchanged for my review.

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