I received this as an author review request in exchange for an honest review. I hadn’t looked at the cover before I picked it up, and when I did I got a little nervous that this was going to be an anime type book. It’s not, it’s just the art style. There’s actually a lot of art put in the book as well which is something I don’t see often.
The opening scene is a little creepy, there are three grown men staring at a sleeping girl debating whether or not she’s the girl they have been sent to take back with them. They decide that she is, they cast a sleeping spell on her and open a portal to another part of the world called Atlantica.
The girl wakes up in a castle, and the last thing she remembers was being in bed at home in the real world, which the Atlanticans call “The Mainland”. She instantly thinks about phoning the police, but soon realizes that’s not going to be an option. Someone with red eyes and pointy ears tries to come in and explain to her what’s going on in a calm fashion, but she isn’t having it. She doesn’t believe that her uncle wasn’t really her uncle but was a King to the land of Atlantica and also her father, and this king had an unhealthy obsession with her world which lead to her birth. Her uncle/father recently died and she thinks it’s a sick joke they’re playing by saying his ‘real funeral’ would be that evening and that she has to pick a new name because she’s never going back home. She can’t be “destined” to be the new Queen of this land since her father left the land without an heir.
I like that the way Achine reacted to her surroundings, rather than just being “oh neat I’m in a castle now” she’s traumatized and looking for a way home. She’s deeply concerned about her family and thinks about them throughout the book. I’ve seen a lot of portal fantasy where characters are involuntarily taken to another world and they are like “oh, neat!” and it takes away from the realism. But, she does eventually relent and come out of her room so she can start to explore her new world, and once she does it’s fairly clear this isn’t an elaborate ruse.
Once she accepts that this is a real place she starts asking questions and finds out that there’s an 8th continent on the planet that’s been kept a secret since they are able to manipulate minds and erase memory. She’s the secret bastard daughter of their late king, and she’s expected to be somebody of importance. The problem is that although her uncle/father was a well respected and was a king of decent reputation, there are still rebels and dissenters among the people of Atlantica. During his funeral, on Achine’s first day there, the funeral gatherers are attacked – parts of the village are burning and mass chaos breaks out.
This world has a more mysterious and open magic system, there are no hard rules – but there are guidelines such as Leylines the mages have to tap into. These Leylines are either dormant or suppressed in the Mainland leaving magic wielders feeling drained after visits. Magic seems to be able to do whatever the mind can make up, from memory erasure to portals to glowing gems that detect bloodlines. It’s said that the Faekin are more powerful than humans and that all but one of their kind have returned to their own dimension outside of Earth.
The writing is in the third person and it mostly focuses on the main character Achine, but does branch out into some side POV’s as well. It’s a very straightforward writing style, not spending much time on descriptions and flowery writing. I felt like the voices of the characters needed a little more distinction, many of the side characters felt the same but the main character did stand out from the rest. I thought maybe at first since this is a portal story involving a younger character that this was going to be a YA book, but it does drop the F-bomb about a dozen times, so maybe not.
The pace was a bit slower at first since the character takes a while to adjust to her surroundings, the first 30-35% of the book was an introduction to the world, and the main character trying to wrap her head around it. Once the attack on the funeral happened the pace picked up a bit. It ended on a cliffhanger, so whether that will bother you or not is something to take into account – it’s definitely not a stand alone.
Overall, given that cover, this isn’t at all what I was expecting but I’m sort of glad that it wasn’t since I’m not into anime. What I got was a lighter quicker read (this is also fairly short) about a girl whose entire life was just turned upside down. I liked the main character and it was nice to see a female MC that wasn’t the typical paragon of beauty. She’s kind of short and overweight and doesn’t think too much of herself. The way it was explained was a touch heavy-handed since there were multiple paragraphs dedicated to her weight issues early on, but it’s not something that gets addressed all that often either.
For people who like –
- Portal Fantasy
- Female POV
- third person writing
- quick lighter reads
- world within a world/hidden realms on Earth
- mysterious magic with guidelines
- Plot: 10.5/15
- Characters: 10.75/15
- World Building: 11/15
- Writing: 11/15
- Pacing: 11/15
- Originality: 11/15
- Personal Enjoyment: 7/10