An old evil threatens to rise from the depths of the warded city…
Sixteen-year-old Marianne lives a simple life as a healer in the Link, looking after her younger brother since their parents’ exile. Little does she know how everything will change after attending the blessing in the city of Obanac. After her brother is wrongfully imprisoned, Marianne seeks his release from Crawford Reign, the Lord of Obanac. But she’s faced with an impossible choice—the lord wants her in exchange. To save her brother she turns to the daring outlaw Robbie and his friends for help. Along with the help of Theo, the holy man’s son, a daring rescue soon uncovers rumors of an old sorcerer who may still live and whispers of the phantom’s curse—an evil that requires a host and seeks to destroy the world—threatening to resurface.
With the threat of an old evil rising in Obanac and the attacks of the Black Riders throughout the realm, nowhere seems safe. To save the people of the land and everyone she cares about, Marianne must unlock the secret to who she really is and embrace the mage magic that stirs within her.
A Note From the Publisher
“…a fast-paced, engaging first-person narrative that moves skillfully between sympathy-evoking personal experience and broad-ranging, sometimes violent action. [This] medieval-inflected fantasy…will appeal to female action-hero aficionados.” — Kirkus Reviews
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Average rating from 51 members
I received an ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review. 3.5/5 stars (rounded up to 4) Let me start off by saying that this is probably not the kind of book I would normally choose to read. I think it was probably intended for a slightly younger audience than myself. However, despite the fact that this book is not a book I would normally read, I still enjoyed it. The author truly did a great job in delivering her story. A young girl, Maz, from the lower towns heads off into the city for the first time in order to celebrate turning sixteen. She is accompanied by her younger brother who she has cared for ever since her parents were taken from her. What she doesn't expect is that she'll leave the city alone. A bumpy road full of obstacles has opened up before her. At first she just intends to save herself and her brother, but it soon becomes apparent that everyone's lives might be in Maz's hands. Many allies join her in her quest to retrieve her brother and save her people. Many secrets come to light during this journey that will change everything Maz knows to be true. My only problem with this book is that it seems to be more intended for middle-school to high-school age audiences which I unfortunately am not in. I was still able to enjoy it, but a younger reader would probably enjoy it much more than I could. However, this does not change the fact that the author did a great job with the plot, characters, and writing itself. All in all, this book is a short, fun adventure about the power of friendship and family in a world where darkness is trying to destroy everything.
A young girl is targeted by evil to bring back the phantom curse. She must save her brother and avoid being captured to be used as the gateway for evil being unleashed. I enjoyed this story. It had some twists to the plot that held my attention. The main character is like able, and who doesn’t like a little romance in their fantasies. I do feel the story could have had more to it. It almost felt rushed through. I wanted to know more background. Overall an enjoyable read
**Disclaimer: I received a complimentary copy of this book from NetGalley. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.** As a YA book, this was a well written and thought out novel. It will definitely appeal to a younger reader, however I did thoroughly enjoy the story and can appreciate the well written story, even if it is aimed at readers of a younger age bracket. Shelley Wilson creates dynamic and intricate characters that have complex backgrounds and as their plot lines unfold you can't help but relating to them. Maz is a teenage girl, about to turn 16, her life is laid before her, or so she thinks. Her younger brother, Newt tags along with her. His is in her care, and has been since their parents had been exhiled by the Davis Reign without warning. Maz has had to become both parents to Newt and at times this feels impossible. While they are in the city, Newt is falsely imprisoned and Maz is sent spiraling when faced with her choice, her life or her brothers. She must face a quest that will test her like no other and she is not the same at the end of it all. This story was beautifully written and I think it will captive many a reader once they come across it, I do feel like the cover needs to be a bit more 'modern' or updated, only because I am not 100% certain it will 'grab' the attention of the reader to whom the book is aimed at. But overall a well written story for YA lovers.
Three and a half This YA fantasy book certainly had an interesting and original storyline. Young Maz is all set to be presented at court to celebrate her sixteenth birthday and takes Newt her younger brother with her. Yet she’s almost immediately singled out by the young Lord of Obanac but things get far worse when Newt is accused of stealing and arrested ! Fortunately Maz has friends outside and decides to take matters with their help into her own hands and rescue Newt. What they find when they sneak in though is that sacrifices are being made to bring darkness into the world and strangely enough Maz is at the heart of dastardly plans . There’s a lot going on here and the author poured so many ideas into the end that sadly it made it feel like overkill. I think my problem is that I just didn’t really connect with these characters and as I’ve read a lot of excellent YA fantasy I cannot help but compare. Perhaps if it been slightly longer the pacing could have felt more even. I will say nevertheless that it is an enjoyable story and I’m sure will be very popular with many younger readers. This voluntary take is of a copy I requested from Netgalley and my thoughts and comments are honest and I believe fair
"Not everyone has goodness in them: my mother used to tell me. And if they do it can be stripped away." I liked this book. It made me feel happy, sad, and nervous for the characters. I liked it enough to buy other e-books but not enough to buy a print copy of this book.
Enjoyed this story, beautifully written and pretty fast paced. Thank you so much to the author, publisher and Netgalley for the ecopy in exchange of my honest review
I enjoyed the premise of this book and the author's engaging style of writing. Even though it slowed down a bit, it kept my attention and I genuinely cared about the characters. A well written and engaging YA book that fans of the fantasy genre will no doubt enjoy. Give this one a try. It's worth your time.
I liked this book, but I didn’t love it. The main issue for me was that I felt like there was so much more that could have been done with this story, but instead it ended up feeling rushed. Right off the bat we get a lot of background information in the prologue that was really intriguing and I felt like could have been an entire book in itself. So going into chapter 1, I kind of felt like I was picking up a book in the middle of a series instead of at the beginning. I felt the same at the end and really would have liked to know more in depth what happened to the characters. My favorite thing about the book was the main character, Marianne, or “Maz.” She was very relatable and I enjoyed the banter between her and Robbie. I also liked Theo and the friendship he and Maz built. Overall, I am glad I read this book and IF the author were to write another book with these characters, I would definitely read it. I received an ARC from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.
<!-- wp:paragraph --> <p>Shelley Wilson has created an engaging, fast-paced, medieval-inspired fantasy novel that artfully and vividly encapsulates the inner struggles of a hero in the making, while skillfully plunging the reader into violent situations. Both are written with empathetic, lyrical language and evokes a storm of emotions within the reader.</p> <!-- /wp:paragraph --> <!-- wp:paragraph --> <p>Marianne or "Maz" sets out with her younger brother Newt to celebrate her 16th birthday in the City. They're from the Link, the lower towns protected by the City of Obanac, and must meet the Lord of Obanac, a young fellow who's succeeded his father, as part of the tradition. Maz is determined to return home after meeting the Lord in the city, with her younger brother, and continue her role as a healer in the lower towns. </p> <!-- /wp:paragraph --> <!-- wp:paragraph --> <p>As usual, things don't go according to plan. Her younger brother Newt is accused of stealing from the Lord of Obanac and arrested, leaving Maz to return alone. However, she's not willing to take this lying down and gather allies to rescue her brother. Through her journey, she will discover a wealth of secrets, a curse that must be broken, and hidden identities. </p> <!-- /wp:paragraph --> <!-- wp:paragraph --> <p>At the beginning of this book, I thought this would be a typical boy meets girl kind of novel, albeit with a rich/poor pairing. The two would battle the evil sorcerer, prevail against the odds, therefore breaking some pesky little curse, and rule their country in peace. Not quite how it went. </p> <!-- /wp:paragraph --> <!-- wp:paragraph --> <p>Don't get me wrong, the originality of the premise was enticing and the deviation from the standard plot was intriguing and what drew me into the novel. As soon as boy meets girl, we get a hint that things aren't what they seem. Instead of some classic romance between the young Lord Obanac and Maz, we get something else. A suspicion builds from the unease our heroine experiences during the encounter. The revulsion and urge to escape the situation clue us in to the fact that something is not right with the young Lord. And we pine for the recklessly endearing Robbie that Maz left behind. Our concerns are finally solidified when Newt is accused of stealing and arrested. </p> <!-- /wp:paragraph --> <!-- wp:paragraph --> <p>Shelley Wilson's dynamic, complex and highly relatable characters are the high point of the novel. Ever since her parents were exiled by the previous Lord, Davis Reign, without any warning, she has had to care for her brother. She was forced to grow up early so she could raise Newt, taking on the role of both mother and father. This is something that she struggles with, especially once Newt is imprisoned for a crime he never committed. She then struggles with the choice she must make: her life or her brother's. No matter what her choice is, the decision she makes and the actions she takes are ones that she will have to live with forever. This is a test like no other and she knows she won't come out of it unscathed. </p> <!-- /wp:paragraph --> <!-- wp:paragraph --> <p>At first, she decides to save herself and her brother, but it soon dawns on her that it's not just their lives at stake. Everyone's lives might be in her hands, and that's a heavy responsibility. She gathers many allies in her fight to save her brother and her people, and in their quest she uncovers a wealth of secrets, some of which change the very foundation of all she knew. </p> <!-- /wp:paragraph --> <!-- wp:paragraph --> <p>While the plot and the characters are carefully and lovingly crafted, the book seems more suited for a younger than intended audience. The novel could use some fine-tuning in terms of pacing, and grammar, but these are just minor tweaks to a fantastic novel. Overall, Shelley Wilson has created an incredibly enjoyable novel perfect for middle-readers that acts as a true testament to the power of friendship and family. </p> <!-- /wp:paragraph -->
I received an ARC from Netgalley. The book comes out on June 11th, 2020. Marianne is just a young girl, living her best life in the poor part of town with her younger brother. Their parents have been forcefully taken from them a few years ago, so Marianne had to grow up quick. There is a party for all young people turning sixteen and Marianne is the only one from the poor section, so she's looked down upon. She brings her younger brother because she has no one else. This proves to be a mistake because he is imprisoned, using a pretty obvious trick, and Lord Crawford wants Marianne in exchange. At the party, she meets Theo, who is her inside man in the city. He helps not only with the rescue of her brother, but other things that Marianne needs help with inside the city walls. With Theo, Robbie and his crew, she plans a rescue. Then things take an even darker turn. Marianne isn't sure what is happening or why Crawford wants her so badly, but she will soon find out. And, no spoilers, but the situation becomes even stranger towards the end of the book. I enjoyed the book quite a bit. It's rather short only about 200-ish pages. It was a nice, quick read. It felt like this book is the start of a series, but it could also just be a one-shot. Hopefully, it is a series because I would like more in this world. An explanation for a lot of magic (especially the Phantom itself) and other stuff would be amazing. The characters were fun and well written. Robbie and his band of outlaws were a nice addition. The romance is light, but obvious to any reader of YA fiction before. All the lovely tropes are there, and I mean that in the best way. Sometimes a tropey, easy read is the best kind of thing, especially in this time of crisis (Yes I am dating this review for future readers!). I did like the rescue of Marianne's brother and also the rescue of someone else later in the book. It was full on Robin Hood stuff, which was a lot of fun. I sort of felt this was aimed for kids trying YA for the first time. It's a simple plot, the bad guys are bad, and the story moves quickly. Perhaps a little too quickly. The book could have been a little longer. There wasn't a lot of set up for things, they just happened. But, again, if this is someone's first YA book, then none of these things stand out. Either way, it's a fun read!
“Simply enjoyed this book.” Story starts with a soldier Davis Reign and his friend Cassias, a fledgling sorcerer fighting against the dark power of the phantom that has infected the land of Obanac. “The lands ran with rivers of blood as the young friends battled the oldest evil.” They won the battle. Cities and Lower towns slowly returned to the normal life, however the fear of the phantoms curse still remained. On her 16th birthday Marianne ( Maz ) is invited to the city of Obanac, to receive a blessing accompanied by her little brother Noah. She meets young Lord of Obanac that shows interest in her. Towards the end of the blessing ceremony her brother gets accused in stealing from the Lord and gets thrown in a dungeon. Maz needs to find the way how to save him, but nobody wants to help her, because people are scared to leave lower town of Link, they are also scared from the Black Riders and Magic that roams outside the warded town. It’s a nice, easy read YA novel. I enjoyed the lightness of it and I’ve read it in one go. I will be honest here, I can’t say that the story was unique, or I’ve never read anything like this. But this book has a right to be. It’s interesting, fast paced, there are moments when you keep reading to find out the answers that have built up from the pages before. I would recommend it to people that enjoyed reading “Cruel prince” trilogy by Holly Black. And I would rate it as 4/5 🌟.
I really enjoyed the premise of this book! The plot was unique and fun, although it often felt quite rushed. I feel as though I didn't have time to connect with the characters. The plot also moved along very quickly to the point where it was hard to follow at points. Such a fun concept for a fantasy novel, but I wish it was longer so the plot and characters could have been fleshed out some more. I received a copy of this book from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.
Excellent read, the story captures the readers attention and takes them along for a great adventure, as good and evil collide.
This story was a lot of fun, extremely fast paced and a delight to read. I enjoyed the characters, the plot and the fantastical world. While I was reading I did find myself wishing the author could have expanded on the characters and the scenes. I liked how it was fast paced, but at times it felt rushed. With a little bit more expansion I think it could have been both fast paced and well developed. I also found the scenes and dialogue a tad cheesy. But I really did love the concept of the story and the fantastical world. The romance was really good with some really sweet moments. Since the story read more on the younger side of YA I personally would recommend it to those in that demographic.
This was a super quick read. Very cute coming of age story of a young girl coming into her powers and using it to help her people. Loved the world created by the author, the main character gave me serious Princess Merida crosses with a gender bent Robin Hood vibe. The story was full of action and every problem ended up becoming solved pretty neatly. Felt more like a middle grade novel rather than young adult in my perspective though. The resolutions came across as too clean and pretty convenient. The story conveyed some really good lessons for a younger audience to learn from. I enjoyed the story though and would recommend to middle grade readers and the younger spectrum of YA readers.
I enjoyed this fresh take on the story of Maid Marion. Maz is a kid just like any other who lives in the Link, and on her 16th birthday is invited to the Palace for a celebration where she catches the eye of Crawford Reign, the Lord of Obanac. When her brother becomes wrongfully imprisoned she goes to the Lord hoping to find help and instead finds a boy who has no desire other than to own her. He tells her that he will release her brother if she agrees to stay with him in the castle. Maz knows she could never abandon her brother and sets off to find Robbie and his friends, a band of outlaws that protect people from evil raiders known as the Black Riders. They agree to help, but Maz has no idea how much Crawford Reign wants her, and the depths he will go to to ensure that her part in his master plan is played. An ancient evil, thought dead is stirring, and It will take Maz bringing together all of Obanac to make sure they get out alive. This is great book for those in the younger YA, possibly MG age ranges. There were a few issues I had whilst reading, I felt that everything came together a little too neatly at the end and the main character came into her supposed power with little effort or training, it all seemed a little easy, and the book in general seemed a tad rushed. There was a strength to the authors characters. I enjoyed that this is an almost Robin Hood re-telling but gender bent and Marion is the main character, the one skilled with the bow, and in the end the one who saves them all.. I did like Robbie's character, and their almost hate to love with each other fit in so well with the characters ages. The book was well paced and had a few twists and turns, mostly predictable, that keep us as the reader engaged. I do think the world and overall storyline could have been developed further, especially since the book is only around 200 pages, but all in all it was a fun and easy read perfect for MG/YA readers.
Marianne, a healer from the lower towns, visits the capital of Obanac to receive the blessing which is customary for those turning 16. When her brother is wrongfully imprisoned, instead of giving herself to the Lord as requested, she attempts a rescue. Meanwhile an old evil seems to be rising again as Marianne is discovering her powers and untold truths about herself. Clean & crisp writing, with beautiful flourishes of descriptions and an earnest tone. A wonderfully structured world, with just the right embellishments to paint a clear picture of what the author wants to convey. A 1st person POV that still encompasses the whole story and you get to know all the characters. Captivating from the very beginning, throughout the book I cursed and cheered, for Wilson has succeeded in getting me invested in these characters. During the action, my hand would fly to my chest and I would forget to breathe. Appearing as the possible 'villain' of the story is Crawford Reign, a very interesting character, manipulative and certainly spoiled. With the kind of privilege you love to hate. Our protagonist has an embedded sense of honor, while being much braver than she thinks. A natural born hero. I love her interactions with Robbie and the boys, heartfelt and often chuckle-worthy. The use of the magic was a bit confusing. I needed a better and more explanation of the magic system. Also with so much build up there should of been a longer lasting third act. Important themes here are compassion, justice and the inner strength you can achieve by believing in yourself. This felt short and sweet with a nice ending (I admit I did tear up). It was quite an enjoyable read. Don't forget to read the bonus story which explains a key moment in the book, a surprise in the finale we could not 'see' for the book is written in Marianne's POV.
A fast paced action story surrounding a female hero. I liked the way this was written and felt the end was put together well. Marianne is a really rounded character and I feel girls of her age will feel connected with her point of view story.
Thanks to Netgalley and the publisher for the e-arc! This was an enjoyable fantasy story of short length, which was exactly what I needed. Marianne (or to her friends, Maz) lives in the Link, which is the countryside to the prestigious city of Obanac. The story starts by recounting the events of the past. Everyone in Obanac knows what the Phantom's Curse means. Not so long ago, the lands were poisoned by the mythical creature called the Phantom, that always needs a human host to take form in. Many people have died, and though the creature is gone, the fear remains, and maybe the peace in Obanac is not what it seems. I really liked Marianne and her inner compass, she's truly a badass girl, who deserves the title of "chosen one" if I say so. She's also a bit of a "Robin Hood" character, an archer, and also a healer, deeply connected to her people. Her friendships and relationship were quite wholesome, I enjoyed reading about them very much. Obviously, it's a short book, I felt the ending a bit rushed and convenient, but that didn't take away from my enjoyment.
Interesting and original storyline which was definitely a surprise since a lot of seemingly similar books belong in YA. However, Shelley Wilson did a great job capturing me into the story and the characters and I felt invested in everything. I recommend!
Really enjoyed this one! Seemed like it was fast paced. Main character was awesome and enjoyed learning about her. Medieval setting was perfect for this one! Definitely recommend