Cover Image: Benaghar


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Member Reviews

A promising novel that in the end was quite underwhelming.

I didn't like Phænor, nor any other characters in the book. Her cousins, her mother and grandmother were annoying and there's no real relationship between any of them. Things just happen to our main character and it doesn't make any sense that she's even involved in the plot in the first time. She doesn't have any powers or important information that others don't have.
She's conveniently overhearing the exact information she needed for the next plot step.
There's lots of talking, explaining and dialogue that isn't necessary and doesn't add anything to the story. She reads really young, but then she gives speeches to others on how they should behave (wolf canis situation).
The motivations are not clear enough for my liking. I can see that the author had some great ideas, but the execution wasn't one that I enjoyed.

Thank you Netgalley for providing me with an eARC in exchange for an honest review. All opinions expressed are my own.
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This book was action packed and the world building was amazing without being overwhelming. I couldn't put it down.
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This book was given to me in exchange for an honest review.  I will.not be reviewing this book as it was archived before I could begin reading it.
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I thoroughly enjoyed this book, especially as I tend to like fantasy books with a lot of action. I loved the world that was created in this book and you could easily imagine it. Additionally, fantasy books can sometimes take a while to introduce the world that the story is set, but this book didn’t and action occurred pretty quickly. I also thought that the names of the characters in this book were lovely and original. 

Phæ’enor’s character development was also beautiful as she became her own person and was determined to help those she cared about. Phæ’enor is also a cleverly written protagonist who is very likeable and witty, with a very strong moral compass. I can’t wait to read the next book of this series.
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20% through and I just couldn't do it anymore. The writing needs work and proper grammar, the protagonist is narcissistic but supposed to be likeable, Andi just did not care in the slightest.
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It was too difficult to get into. I kept trying to read it but DNF. The main character was too unlikeable. Usually, that sort of thing doesn't bother me, but I couldn't get past it this time. It might also be easier to read with a physical copy. Sometimes with complicated story lines, j prefer physical over digital.
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DNF at 13%

Content warnings: murder, terrorism, sexism
Tropes: cute clumsy girl

Benaghar: The Rat, The Wolf & The King’s Fool follows Phæ’enor, the sheltered daughter of a distinguished military captain, as she moves to the capital of the Aebran Empire. After docking in the new city, she and her mother almost perish in a terrorist attack. This brush with death prompts Phæ’enor to explore her new home in search of answers.

- World building
- Interactions between female characters

- Grammar, punctuation, and style issues
- Main character does not have a clear personality or goals
- Too many side characters

Setting and world building

While I didn’t experience much of the setting within the first three chapters, it seems like the author spent a fair amount of time researching and constructing the world. Though it’s billed as an epic dark fantasy, I did not encounter any magic or horror elements before I stopped reading. If anything, the atmosphere felt oddly upbeat without the sense of eeriness or dread you would expect from a dark fantasy novel.


Phæ’enor lacks a real identity or driving force. Clumsiness and a disregard for boundaries or personal safety serve as her core personality traits. Since she has no perceivable goals, the plot simply happens to her. She feels more like an actor hitting her marks on a stage than a young woman who experiences a traumatic event on her first day in an unfamiliar place.

Many of the issues may stem from Phæ’enor’s level of maturity. Based on chapters one and two, I had pegged her age as somewhere between 6 and 10. A few pages later, I discovered that she is actually almost 17. While she behaves like a child and supposedly lived a carefree life until the events of the book, witnessing the gruesome murders of several people somehow doesn’t phase her. She goes right back to her impish antics as if nothing happened.


Unclear. Phæ’enor herself seems to be the biggest threat to her well-being considering how often she falls over.

Supporting characters and relationships

There are too many side characters to keep track of. The author introduces over two dozen people with names and descriptions in rapid succession. Other than Phæ’enor, I couldn’t tell you who anyone actually is or what purpose they serve in the plot.

On the plus side, I did not run into any girl-on-girl hate (with one exception). The women seem friendly and supportive of each other, even if they spend a lot of time talking about marriage.

Writing style and quality

Benaghar has major grammar and punctuation problems. Run-on sentences abound. There are too many commas, missing commas and periods, and commas in strange places. Odd phrasing and formatting also make it difficult to focus on and understand the events unfolding on the page. Jarring switches between third- and first-person used to convey Phæ’enor’s inner thoughts appear without visual tells. While I’m not a fan of this approach in general, at least distinguish the thoughts from the surrounding passages by putting them in italics.

Final thoughts and suggestions

While the setting has potential, Benaghar needs an in-depth review from an editor. The grammar, punctuation, and strange style choices distract from the story. The revolving door of side characters makes it even harder to focus, and Phæ’enor is not a compelling enough protagonist to make the slog worth it. Unless the tone takes a sharp turn after the first three chapters, the book also doesn’t seem to belong in the dark fantasy or dark fairy tale genres. It presents more like a standard YA fantasy.
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I hate to say it, but I DNF’d this book at 25%. The story was interesting enough, but the writing was hard to follow a lot of the time and I couldn’t keep myself interested. 

Not a bad story, below average writing, but definitely shows a lot of promise!
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This is a story set in an obviously large world with a number of politics, ongoings, empires and cultures. There is an air of mystery to the world and certainly some of the characters as you progress through the story.
That said, I think I hate the main character. Phae'nor is meant to be seventeen and has all the behaviour and demeanour of a twelve year old. Rasia is far more interesting and we get only glimpses of his world, through Phae'nor's eyes. I'd put Prince Taigor in the same category as Rasia as someone more interesting and want to more about over the main character. By the end I'd also put her cousins into this list. They got very interesting towards the middle/end of the book.

The writing is a little...unnecessary in some places, for lack of a better term. The crash, bang, 'Argh' in the dialogues didn't add to the scenes. Also did Mrs Kuang's dialogue need to include her accent when no others from outside the main city included theirs? 

As a whole, the story, world, characters and other elements tied together in a way that I finished the book. I might not necessarily go out of my way to follow up with the second one though. If you're looking for a new fantasy world with some mysterious conflicts and street gangs, you might well enjoy this more than I did.
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Everything is not as it seems in Benaghar. The story is full of intrigue and twists. Phae’enor is a strong female protagonists with a sharp mind. She is thrust into a world full of lies and hidden identities. She is racing against others to get to the answer of an ages long curse.

I am excited to read the next book! This was a mostly clean read with the only exception being a few curse words. The characters are numerous and interesting. The Kingdom of Benaghar is multi-layered and complex. 

If you love intrigue, coming of age, strong female characters, and fantasy, you should give this book a try.
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I got to page 81 (chapter 4) and I gave up. I am not interested in underdeveloped, narcissistic protagonists. There was something sort of experimental trying to happen with the first chapter but it didn't work for me, it seemed out of place and unnecessarily confusing. The introductions to most characters is so weird and abrupt. The protagonist doesn't seem to do anything except fall and not in a quirky, clumsy way but more in a "I don't know what else to make this character do because she has no personality" way. I see where the plot is supposed to be going but I'm not getting anything at all from the story itself. I don't know what age the target audience for this is supposed to be, but if it's anything older than middle-grade, it doesn't make sense to me and I don't see it being much enjoyed.
I really wanted to like this story. Perfect for fans of "Dark fairy tales and strong female characters"? I like those! A lot! I would love to read a book with them, but unfortunately that means I have to put this one down and continue my search elsewhere. Maybe the book gets better later, but with the writing style it has, I still wouldn't want to read it. It's dispassionate and disconnected. I thought I would be the perfect audience for this because, again, the description is right up my alley. I'm disappointed. Hopefully this book will find some sort of audience, but it won't be me.
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This book is well-written and entertaining.
F.K. Maddison does an excellent job at building a world that is understandable and a fantasy that is believable.
At times the main character felt as if she was behaving much younger than her age, but as a young daughter of a well-respected and high-ranking officer, that can be understandable. It did make it hard at times for me to get behind her and feel empathy.
The pacing is good, the descriptions are imaginative and detailed.
I would recommend for anyone that is a fan of young adult books, and interested in fantasy works read this. It's not truly a young adult novel but it shares enough elements that I believe young adult fans would love it and it would be a great introduction to fantasy for them.
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