Awaken the Dawn

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Pub Date 01 Mar 2024 | Archive Date 01 Apr 2024

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Description

A cryptic puzzle. A family secret. A deadly betrayal. 

When her dad dies during a business trip to Romania, Kat Barrett blames herself for their failed relationship. She's racked with guilt, haunted by strange dreams about the crash that killed him, and she’d do anything to have him back. 

Then a package arrives. It’s from her dad and contains a list of clues — one of his classic scavenger hunts. Desperate for answers, she follows the clues to Bucharest and meets Maksim, a local with a dark past who offers to help. Kat doesn't trust him, but when she hits a dead end, she’s left with no other choice. 

As they work together, decoding the clues and trying (unsuccessfully) not to fall for each other, the scavenger hunt reveals a deadly secret the dreams have been pointing to, something Maksim’s old crime ring has been hiding all along, and Kat has walked into their trap. 

Can she beat them to the final clue — and solve it — before she suffers the same fate as her dad?

***

Awaken the Dawn is YA suspense paranormal mystery with a slow-burn romance and a cryptic scavenger hunt. Readers who've enjoyed this book have also enjoyed...

Inheritance Games
A Good Girl's Guide to Murder
Truly Devious
The Da Vinci Code
I Must Betray You
by Ruta Sepetys
The Gender Game by Bella Forrest
Ally Carter's Embassy Row series
Kelley Armstrong's Cainsville series

TWO-TIME AWARD WINNER (Best Unpublished YA Novel). This is the first book in a forthcoming series but works as a standalone with resolution by the end.

Mystery/suspense tropes: amateur female sleuth, scavenger hunt bonding, ticking clock, (semi)unreliable narrator

Romance tropes: slow burn, hero protector, (clean) mafia/forbidden love, unequal social status

The story also touches on deeper themes of fear, regret, vengeance, hope, and forgiveness.

A cryptic puzzle. A family secret. A deadly betrayal. 

When her dad dies during a business trip to Romania, Kat Barrett blames herself for their failed relationship. She's racked with guilt, haunted...


A Note From the Publisher

Other suggested hashtags....

For readers who enjoy the characters:
#TeamKat
#TeamMaks
#TeamAndrei
#TeamStefan

For readers who enjoy the setting or descriptions:
#RatherBeInRomania

For readers who enjoy the scavenger hunt:
#ThatScavengerHuntLife

Other suggested hashtags....

For readers who enjoy the characters:
#TeamKat
#TeamMaks
#TeamAndrei
#TeamStefan

For readers who enjoy the setting or descriptions:
#RatherBeInRomania

For...


Advance Praise

"Awaken the Dawn is riveting . . . . (It) dives into deep themes and is filled with mystery and intrigue." - ARC Reader

"There was a lot to like about this one; really interesting setting (Romania), the use of both Romanian and Romani words (with translations), the images of the color maps, pictures and clues from the treasure hunt (great idea that worked really well)." - BookSirens Reviewer [full review on BookSirens, Goodreads]

"Mystery, puzzles, mafia, secrets, and red herrings at every turn all set in Romania and intertwined with culture, corruption and political upheaval." - NetGalley Reviewer [full review on NetGalley, Goodreads]

"Suspense. Romance. Travel! I devoured this in one day. It’s the total package. If you’re looking for a well-crafted YA set in a dazzling real-world location, this one’s very much worth your time!" - Goodreads Reviewer

"Awaken the Dawn is riveting . . . . (It) dives into deep themes and is filled with mystery and intrigue." - ARC Reader

"There was a lot to like about this one; really interesting setting (Romania)...


Marketing Plan

  • Ellis will be on the Happy Hippie Hanna podcast and WJHL's A Closer Look (February 2024)

  • Book tours and online events happening throughout March, including a takeover of the Tattered Pages Book Club on March 7

  • The official launch party for Awaken the Dawn will be March 26 (more details to come)

  • LIBRARY + INDIE BOOKSTORE TOUR (Spring/Summer 2024)
    Awaken the Dawn is YA suspense with a supernatural twist and a mystery in the form of a scavenger hunt. Ellis and her street team are taking that scavenger hunt to libraries and indie bookstores. 

    If you're a librarian or indie bookstore owner/manager and you'd like to host a signing + scavenger hunt event, please contact Nazarea Andrews at Inkslinger PR: 706.326.0605 / nandrews@inkslingerpr.com
  • Ellis will be on the Happy Hippie Hanna podcast and WJHL's A Closer Look (February 2024)

  • Book tours and online events happening throughout March, including a takeover of the Tattered Pages Book Club...

Available Editions

EDITION Paperback
ISBN 9781962180092
PRICE $18.99 (USD)
PAGES 414

Available on NetGalley

NetGalley Shelf App (EPUB)
Send to Kindle (EPUB)

Average rating from 12 members


Featured Reviews

Mystery, puzzles, mafia, secrets, and red herrings at every turn all set in Romania and intertwined with culture, corruption and political upheaval. Whew! Solid adventure with a treasure hunt for unknown treasure, while hunted by bad guys you will want to see gone. Definitely recommended.

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I love a scavenger hunt! A mystery package and some great obscure clues lead Kat on a hunt for answers in Eastern Europe. She has grown up solving cryptic clues on scavenger hunts with her father so when the package seems to offer a hunt from beyond the grave she flies from the US to Romania to take up the challenge. Travelling alone in a strange country, she accepts help from Maksim and Andrei who seem keen to get involved.
The story is action packed involving dead ends, jeopardy, trying to keep one step ahead of the bad guys and I loved the twists in the tale.
The descriptions of Brasov and the forests and mountains of Romania are so beautiful that readers of this book would surely be inspired to visit. There are hints of the supernatural which I hope the author will develop further as Awaken the Dawn is the first part of a longer saga.

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I was super excited for this book after reading the description on the back of the book. A puzzle, a secret and a betrayal? Yes please!
It was described perfectly and I was not disappointed at all. I was quickly transported to Kat’s world and was able to follow along with her feelings and conclusions. Between the scavenger hunt and trying to piece together Kat’s Dads past, i was hooked right to the very end. I would have loved to learn more about the paranormal aspect, but overall such a great read! And that slow burn romance with Maksim… absolutely perfect! I can’t wait to see what happens next with them!

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This story started off a little slow for me but I was curious about the scavenger hunt so I kept going. I’m so glad I did. The book was absolutely amazing and I couldn’t get enough of it. I can’t wait to see what happens next.

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This is an enjoyable puzzle mystery book great for those who enjoyed The Inheritance Game and a good debut novel for the author. Overall, I give this book 3.75/5.

The plot unravels well as the main characters solve clues and the truth begins to settle upon the main character. I liked the two main characters and appreciated how the author wrote their chemistry. The story wrapped up enough to feel closure with the story and still left room for the story to continue in sequels. I also liked how much research the author did about the language and people she referenced. It made the story stronger and I think added to the setting and overall plot.

I think what was missing from this story, for me, is the the paranormal elements of the story. The description says this is a paranormal mystery, but the only paranormal elements in the story are alluded to or happen in pockets of the story that felt random. I wished this had a bit more direction and connection to the overall story, even if the author is saving answers in coming books.

Again, an overall enjoyable read and I would recommend it to anyone who enjoys a quick puzzle mystery!

I received an advanced readers copy for this book through Netgalley and the publisher, And Fire Books, and this is my honest review.

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Rating: 4.5/5

Character Development:

At the heart of "Awaken The Dawn" lies a cast of compelling characters grappling with loss, guilt, and the quest for redemption. Kat Barrett emerges as a relatable and dynamic protagonist, haunted by the shadow of her father's untimely demise and driven by an insatiable thirst for answers. As Kat embarks on a perilous scavenger hunt through the streets of Bucharest, she forms an unlikely alliance with Maksim, a complex and enigmatic figure with his own troubled past. Popa deftly explores the evolving dynamics between Kat and Maksim, weaving layers of mistrust, vulnerability, and reluctant camaraderie into their fraught partnership.

Themes and Exploration:

"Awaken The Dawn" delves into themes of family secrets, betrayal, and the transformative power of truth. Through Kat's relentless pursuit of her father's cryptic clues and the dark secrets they unveil, Popa explores the corrosive effects of deception and the redemptive potential of facing one's past. As Kat confronts the shadows lurking within her own family history and navigates the treacherous underworld of Bucharest, she grapples with moral ambiguity and the blurred boundaries between trust and betrayal. The novel's exploration of identity, loyalty, and the search for meaning in the face of overwhelming adversity resonates with emotional depth and narrative resonance.

Plot and Pacing:

Popa masterfully orchestrates a labyrinthine plot brimming with unexpected twists, pulse-pounding suspense, and heart-stopping revelations. From the atmospheric streets of Bucharest to the shadowy corridors of hidden conspiracies, "Awaken The Dawn" immerses readers in a world of danger, intrigue, and high-stakes adventure. The pacing is relentless, propelling readers forward with each tantalizing clue and escalating threat. As Kat races against time to uncover the truth behind her father's death, the novel unfolds with cinematic flair, weaving a tapestry of intrigue and suspense that keeps readers guessing until the final, breathtaking conclusion.

Conclusion:

In "Awaken The Dawn," Ellis K. Popa delivers a masterful blend of mystery, suspense, and heart-pounding thrills that will captivate readers from the very first page. With its richly drawn characters, labyrinthine plot, and evocative setting, the novel is a testament to Popa's storytelling prowess and narrative ingenuity. Fans of mystery thrillers and pulse-pounding suspense will find much to love in the electrifying world of "Awaken The Dawn," a mesmerizing tale of secrets, betrayal, and the enduring quest for truth in the face of adversity. A gripping and unforgettable read that heralds Popa as a rising star in the genre, "Awaken The Dawn" is a must-read for anyone seeking an exhilarating literary escape into the heart of darkness.

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If you love mystery, puzzles and connecting the dots, check out Awaken the Dawn by Ellis K. Popa! In the story you meet Kat, and she is someone who is multilayered, driven and weighed down with grief, but she she finds a way to move with it versus letting it hold her back. She finds her self following a mystery overseas and ends up a situation she never could have imagined. From the start you have intriguing characters and the question in the back of your mind, who can you trust?

This was a great escape and you will become fully invested in connecting the dots with Kat and those who journey alongside her!

I received an eARC from the author, all opinions are my own.

Review provided on Netgalley & Goodreads. Amazon review pending until release date.

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