Things are coming together over at the Report, we have read most of the entries and we have started exchanging hopefuls to consider for finalists. We’ve got more cuts coming, unfortunately it’s just part of this contest that 29/30 of our batch don’t make it past round one. So, here we are with cuts post #6.
Thank you to all the authors for your submissions, we hope you find new readers through our reviews.
Unfortunately, I didn’t get very far with this one, and it’s for a couple reasons. The first being that I wasn’t enjoying the dialogue. It felt a little forced, a little stiff, and a little too old school for my personal taste. I tend to prefer a more fluid fast-paced modern dialogue rather than super formal phrasing, and little to no use of contractions.
It opens with a very short three-page prologue showing the death of a diplomat who was supposed to be on a mission of peace. The mission was to keep a tenuous alliance afloat to avoid a massive world war. He was murdered by some mysterious black shadow who left his servant alive to deliver a message back to is people. The message warns of an ancient evil coming back and yadda yadda. I think I know where the story was heading, I can’t be sure but it sounds like a group of heroes has to defeat an ancient evil.
There were a number of POV’s introduced in quick succession, and as those who follow my reviews know, I struggle with books that have fast paced head hopping at the very beginning of a book. Later on in a book that’s just fine, but switching too early can lead to a detached feeling for me and I can’t fully connect.
There were also big info dumps in the first chapter via dialogue, a personal pet peeve of mine. There does appear to be a pretty vast world, lots of different countries and kingdoms and realms were named in over the course of the first chapter giving a sense of vastness. I don’t need a super slow drip feed to enjoy world-building, but having it flooded right out of the gates isn’t something that makes me want to keep going.
Of the POV’s there’s Raymond, the murdered fellow. Fetzer, he’s the bastard of a dead lord and he wants to be a knight, but it’s unlikely. There’s a king named Erech who’s generally considered to be a failure. There are two brothers who are in training … and all of those were introduced before 10% and it isn’t a terribly long book. I was about to stop when I hit Marlan’s POV and I was interested enough to keep going. I enjoy seeing two sides of a war, and I like grey characters (especially when juxtaposed with ‘good’ ones) and Marlan presented both in the same character. Marlan’s chapter also presented the world’s magic system which involves a lot of potion brewing and glyphs. Unfortunately, as I continued on with his chapter, my interest dropped again as he was portrayed as a mustache-twirling type villain. It was at this point I decided to set it down.
I think this would appeal to people who like good vs evil stories, expansive world building, and a bunch of POVs. It feels like this could have expanded quite a bit, so if you think this sounds like your thing I encourage you to try it out.
Reviewer: Graham Austin-King
The cover to this book is gorgeous, and I had high hopes for it. Unfortunately the contents didn’t really fulfil the promises the cover hinted at.
Daughter of Havenglade appears to be a classic coming of age fantasy, and there’s nothing wrong with that at all. It’s a big cliché but there is a reason we have tropes. My issue with the book is that I am not sure what age group it is aimed at. It reads, at least to me, as a very young YA that borders on being a children’s book. Whilst that is fine, the content doesn’t match the tone. The pacing was very slow, even in dramatic events like fight scenes, and the writing seemed overly simplistic. Other might enjoy it but it simply wasn’t for me.
Possibly a good read for lovers of young YA.
Status: Read 100% Cut
This is the story of Jasmine, who is part of the crew of the Wielder’s Prize. As sailors tend to be suspicious of women aboard ships, Jasmine spends her life disguised as a boy. When one day the crew of another ship takes her and other members of the Prize’s crew hostage, she has to fight to hide her secret from these new people, especially Finn, who is a powerful magic user known as a wielder. He’s taken an interest in Jasmine because, as it turns out, she’s a wielder too, and an untrained one, which is dangerous. So, Jasmine has to keep two huge and dangerous secrets while trying to get back aboard her own ship, and there are plenty of shenanigans on the way.
I started this one late one day and was a good quarter of the way into it in one sitting. It reads quite quickly, and it’s engaging enough that it kept me interested. I thought it was quite well written, and it was well edited, enough that I didn’t find any obvious spelling or grammatical errors in it.
Jasmine was an interesting character, who leads a rather bleak life up until the events of this book. Her father beats her, and at this point she’s resigned to it, so skip this one if that is an uncomfy or triggering thing for you. It happens more than once, and is described fairly clearly. I’m conflicted on this point, because while her father does do altruistic things for Jasmine over the course of the book, including taking a flogging in her place, there’s still the fact that he beat her for her entire life. He changes as a character over the course of the story, as does Jasmine, but in the end it seems to be treated as a thing that happened between them, with very little penance on his part.
The relationship between Jasmine and ObviousLoveInterest Finn was also rather interesting, as it starts out rather combative, and becomes less so (kisssiiiiinnngggg). It’s a fairly slow burn, and definitely not the main thing driving the story. Finn is another interesting character who is apparently quite a powerful wielder, despite being fairly young himself. Once Finn and Jasmine get a little bit closer and the suspense and mystery ramps up a bit, I rooted for them to win, so it became even more engaging and I read to the end in another couple of hours. It isn’t very long, but it’s as long as it needed to be. Everything wrapped up neatly, leaving more to explore without being cliffhangery.
All told, this is a pretty entertaining YA magical seafaring fantasy, and I would recommend it to people who are into magical teens doing magical things with a bit of romance and plenty of action on the high seas. I had 6.5/10 stars of fun with Wielder’s Prize.