This book was given to me free via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. It has not affected my opinion at all.
Hey everyone! I got this book of NetGalley in one of my requesting binges and was so pleasantly surprised. It only has 90 ratings on Goodreads, so I feel as if I found a little hidden YA Fantasy gem! I completely, 100%, unashamedly binge read this book. I started at around 7:00 pm and only stopped for dinner, finishing at around 11:30 pm. It was that addicting. This is the first book in Dyan Chick’s Illaria series (I think it’s a trilogy?)
Wilona always thought she was just a peasant girl. That is until she crosses paths with the Kings’ Guards, and her whole life turns upside down. She discovers she is the princess and true heir to the throne, and a rebel group called the White Ravens wants her to help them to usurp the current king, a necromancer. While with the White Ravens, Wilona realizes powers she never thought she had, and now adds sorceress to her new identities. With the help of Ashton, a pretty powerful sorcerer apprentice, she realizes that she is also pretty powerful. Maybe the most powerful sorcerer live. And now she wants to help take down the king who stole everything from her.
In the beginning, I honestly thought this plot was going to be straightforward and boring. Then Wilona gets to the White Raven camp and BAM everything changes. There are plot twists thrown in here and there, danger lurking around every corner, new secrets uncovered, and I was #stressed and #tense the entirety of the book. Like, I was actually shaking. While it starts out a bit slow, by the end the plot is rushing by, it’s so fast. Something huge is happening on every page, and I was whipping through the book trying to see what’s next.*
*Which led to the aforementioned binge read…#sorrynotsorry
I loved the whole magic element in it (haha puns because the magic had to do with the elements…I’m sORRY I’M LIKE THIS OKAY). Basically, there are sorcerers, but each one aligns to an element, and some elements are more rare than others. And then there are all these apprentices and sorcerer trials and Masters of sorcery and guilds and it’s just all so intense. And because Wilona was a sorceress, and it was told in first person, we got to feel the whole magic element as if we were doing it.* Especially because Wilona was just learning how to use it, so we got to start at the beginning of the magic and work up from there. And it adds a whole new level to the plot because not only do the White Ravens have to oust the king from the throne, but there’s MAGIC and he can bring the dead people back to life in his undead army and control them forever, and who’s magic is stronger?????? which is the real determination of who gets the throne.
*Honestly, I just really want magical powers so I can call down lightning and make plants grow and all that jazz.
Wilona was a character with great growth and really grew on me*. In the beginning I thought she was whiny and weak. Anything mildly bad that happened caused her to break down in tears and during all the fight scenes she just cowered behind a tree or something (although same). But by the end she was definitely a lot braver. She started wanting to learn how to fend for herself because TOO MANY INNOCENT DEATHS (in her own words) and so she learned archery and dagger throwing and sorcery (which naturally she was a GENIUS at) and even at the ending fight battle scenes she basically FORCED herself into the fight which was pretty great. My favorite thing about her is her heart. Her desire to protect those she cares about basically fuels every single action of hers and her great badass moments. While she might not have a politicians’ brain, she has the heart and love for her people and that’s what would make her such a great ruler.
*Yes I can English really well and use all these sophisticated words HA
Ashton is Wilona’s love interest, but sadly that’s all he is. I always love when love interests are more dimensional, but we only get to know Ashton through how Wilona’s feelings for him change. He’s protective of her and a powerful sorcerer, and had a tragic childhood like everyone in the White Ravens, but that’s all I know about him. And he and Wilona’s relationship was hella instalove (they told each other they loved each other after like a week of knowing each other) but they definitely had chemistry so I was rooting for them all the same. And since it’s a trilogy I’m guessing their relationship with develop more?
Saffron is another side character, who honestly is such a #inspiration. Since the world is all royalty and whatnot* everyone is pretty sexist, but Saffron just comes in there and waves her swords around and kills everyone around her and sits in at military strategy meetings. But my heart broke for her because she is also so sweet and Wilona’s first true friend, and had so many heartbreaking things to deal with.
*dID I ACTUALLY JUST USE THE WORD WHA
And then we get to Max. The creepy leader of the Ravens who I just cannot get behind. He gave me bad feels from the start and is just so power hungry. He’s a complete opposite from Wilona, so their dynamics together was interesting because Wilona is all heart and he’s all brain. He is a pretty powerful sorcerer (or so we’re told) but we never actually see him use his powers, and now all I want is for him and Wilona to do some big magic standoff so I can see who’s more powerful.
Yes we have some cliches overall in the characters, but it doesn’t really detract from enjoying the characters and there are also cliche breaking moments as well.
In the end I say read this book. If you like royalty/princess stories or fantasy then you will be pleased by this because there is both! The writing is smooth and flows well, and the plot just keeps on building. I’m crossing my fingers that I’ll get accepted to review the next two books of this series on NetGalley.