This was a peculiar reading, but I will admit that it was a challenge to stay engaged with the plot and the characters. I think the world we live in is already violent enough and to have to read about this amount of physical abuse and verbal attacks is not what I want after a day of work and sad news.
Natalie is a young girl of 16 years that struggles with her role in society and family responsibilities in an unnamed medieval world where men are divided from women. As she works to sustain her family, Natalie hates being a woman and the treatment they are victims of in the hands of men. Things take a radical turn when there is an announcement for a new Quest from the Kings, an adventure that if it ends in victory will bring glory, influence and gold. When Natalie gets on the bad side of a male adventurer and gets violently beaten, she has to flee to another city in search of Sir Edris for protection and help in the Quest.
I really don’t like giving bad reviews, but this one just didn’t cut it for me. Starting with the plot and the setting where the adventure takes place. I was completely at lost about this fantasy reality: there is description of this world, how many countries, continents, cities there are, the distance between them, their political structure. I would have felt the adventure more if I could really feel this new world, and I couldn’t do that with the lack of descriptions.
The writing style was a bit disappointing in a sense. It’s very easy to read and to keep up with the plot and the characters but there’s amiss. Since we’re talking about a story that takes place in medieval times, I was expecting the old English type of language and vocabulary that I’m a big fan of in historical novels. But here, the language is modern, the phrases are the same as we use now-a-days and for me it took the colour out of the story. The violence towards women and the sexism of this reality didn’t work out for me either. I understand that this the universe that the author created, but this is based on a reality. Tough to hear but it does exist. I would just expect a rise up of women power with a powerful character or a demonstration of something that would balance this oppressive environment and that didn’t happen at all. In the end, it just gets worse, and I struggled to keep reading when I only saw the mistreatment and abuse of women.
The characters were also a bit of a disappointment. I couldn’t understand Natalie at all and I honestly didn’t like her as a main character. For me she’s like an over-emotional teenager that always says she hates man and the freedom they have to do what they want without worrying about consequences but then she expects and counts on the guy to have her from trouble. I really couldn’t feel any strength in her at all, not in her personality or influence in the story. I also felt like she doesn’t learn anything from the events taking place around her; she doesn’t grow as a character. All the other characters, like her friends Hadley and Ida, Brago, Sir Edris and Red are not well developed at all, they don’t have depth and I didn’t feel their connection to the story.
I think there is room for improvement, both when it comes to plot details and the character development. Hopefully there will be changes in the next novel.
Thank you NetGalley, the publisher Diversion Publishing and the author for allowing me to read and review a digital copy of this book.