Monday, 25 January 2016

Review: Darkhaven and Goldenfire

Darkhaven 
Rating: 5/5
Buy or Borrow: Buy
Source: Copy Courtesy of NetGalley and the publisher! 

Ayla Nightshade never wanted to rule Darkhaven.

Yet her half-brother Myrren hasn’t inherited the family’s ability to shapeshift, so their father, Florentyn, forces Ayla to take over as heir to the throne.

When Ayla is accused of Florentyn’s brutal murder only Myrren believes her innocent and aids her escape. A fugitive from her own guard, Ayla must now fight to clear her name if she is ever to wear the crown she never wanted and be allowed to return to the home she has always loved.

But does something more sinister than the power to shapeshift lie at the heart of the Nightshade family line?


I am such a huge fantasy fan, as I've read more and more books, I've found myself consistently loving fantasy and gravitating more towards it than any other genre. This is by far one of the best I've read! I was so intrigued by the summary and so lucky to be able to review it and it's sequel, and ya know...read them one after the other! 

The thing that intrigued me in the summary was that female Ayla was being forced in to inheriting the throne...the mere fact that a female was inheriting is what piqued my interest, usually in fantasy books it's all about the male heirs, so the fact a female was inheriting over a male made me curious! Then the whole...murder and fugitive thing as well of course! 

I found Darkhaven to have many elements that I love, the world building was fantastic and I found myself getting lost in the world of the book and eager to learn more about it. It was such a unique world with Changers being the ones in charge and the lore and mythology behind the Changers was fascinating and I was eager for more information on them and loved the scraps provided through someone's reading. I fell completely in love with the idea of Changers and the different kinds and it was such a fascinating world and just.....original. You guys know how much I value things that are a little bit different! 

Darkhaven doesn't hang about and it's straight in with the plot moving forward, straight in to mystery and straight in to action. While I had worked out who it was, I second guessed myself a lot thanks to the authors skill at dropping clues here and there and getting you to follow the characters way of thinking. More and more things would be revealed and my idea of the culprit kept switching until I was like "Oh..I am right! I AM RIGHT NO WAY?!" and ya know...I was mostly shocked that I'd actually gotten something right! I was half expecting to be wrong, like there was proper proof that you couldn't really argue with but I was still waiting to see if that was coincidence and then BOOM. I was right. Still not over it! Aside from that, there are many moments of surprise in the book, right from the start where you're kind of like...woah. Okay. Didn't see that coming, now everything I thought I'd worked out is wrong! 

The book is very fast paced, and I was completely engrossed in what was going on in the book. There where so many threads that came together to make a complex and fascinating plot. I was completely lost to the book! So much was going on, so much had to be worked out and there was so much mystery and the creepy Captain who seriously got what was coming to him, not going to lie! The thing is the premise is just so brilliant, Ayla is the only Changer in the city, so I was coming up with wild theories to prove her innocence and the whole time I was thinking...but what if it is here? What if it's the plot twist of all plot twists and it's been her all along?! So I was completely gripped in finding out who it was and what the explanation was! 

There was romance, and I thought it was completely cute watching it develop and come to fruition. I do love a cute romance! Although I will admit, Ayla's held more interest for me because there was the whole "oops, killed your mother by having a nap" thing going on. Yes I know it was an accident, but it was still an obstacle because of how Ayla felt about it, and I loved watching her have to turn to Tomas for help and then have her opinion change and her feelings change and then the ending. So perfect! Myrren on the other hand, had an obstacle to his romance with Serenna in that she's a priestess, that ended up not being much of an obstacle at all, I did find that a bit of a sigh and roll my eyes moment. I didn't really have much of an opinion on Serenna to be honest! She didn't engage me as much as Tomas did, I think. I don't know, she was likeable enough but she didn't spark any particular interest in me, except for when she was learning about the Nightshades and the Changer history, which provided a lot of the information! Maybe it's because she wasn't all that much developed, unlike the other characters, that I struggled to take an interest. Like I said, I much preferred the romance of Ayla and Tomas, and I much preferred Tomas to be honest, their scenes where many of my favourite! I also loved how the romance was a secondary thing, left to develop as the book went on, but not focused on all that much. Although I did find it interesting that Myrren and Serenna trusted each other from the beginning, and then in direct contrast, Ayla and Tomas had to build up their trust. 

The characters are so brilliantly created, Myrren and Ayla are so different, but I loved how determined Myrren was to prove Ayla's innocence and believe her, I mean there was a point when I was like...what if Thomas is correct?! But I was so pleased that Myrren wasn't the treacherous kind of brother! It surprised me as well, I'm not going to lie! I was also surprised at how accepting Myrren was of not being the heir and Ayla taking his place...and the fact he didn't bear her any ill will about it! It made for a refreshing change! Especially when things come to light, his motivation the entire time throughout the book has been all about his sister and her safety and I loved that the author made that choice! So many times there's so much familial backstabbing in fantasy books and I loved reading about a different sibling relationship! In short, Myrren is kind and even while growing over the course of the book, he retained his kindness and willing to see the good, quite a feat considering how he was treated as a child and growing up!

In contrast, Ayla is determined she doesn't want the throne and she's stubborn and I loved her, she was such a brilliant character! I loved how much she felt for her brother, I loved that they had such a strong relationship. Ayla has to deal with a lot in this book, being hunted by pretty much everyone and never once did she just have a little break down and allow herself to be too sad about it. I mean, obviously she has the human reaction to have a little cry about some things, she had her doubts which where perfectly understandable, but for the most part she was determined to prove her innocence and determined to carry on. She'd been looked down on most of her life, she wasn't always the kindest person ever and she just wanted to be accepted by her father. She grew a lot over the course of the book, I thought. I mean in the beginning when she was debating over a butty I was like...really? She felt a bit damsel-y. But then by the end of the book she was all fighting and determined, there was a situation in the end where she wasn't going to go down without a fight! 

The characters in the book, not just Myrren and Ayla, where all so complex and it really brought them all to life. Thomas the alcoholic who'd been kicked out of the guard, he's another character that changed a lot over the course of the book and I was so rooting for him as well! Even creepy, horrible Captain of the Guard was complex. I didn't particularly like the glimpses in to his head though! *shudders* I loved Sorrow completely, she was my favourite kind of character, a badass, swaggering sell sword who made me chuckle once or twice! I mean her sheer belief that she wouldn't be arrested at one point, as she swaggers in all casually...hilarious! 

We get lots of different points of view in the book, and each character has a distinctive voice, some more creepy crawling inducing than others. I'm looking at you Captain Travers. I loved how I could distinguish the characters narratives from the feel of the narrative. Each narrative was engaging and intriguing and gave you a deeper look in to a character and their motivation and kept you up to date with new discoveries, gave you new clues and helped to keep you guessing. The switches where smooth and always perfectly timed. It really helped to bring the story to life, to see all the different perspectives on the events of the book. 

Darkhaven was an engaging and gripping read and sucked me in from page one. I fell completely in love with the unique world and the creatures in it, I loved the pacing of the book and the different narratives brought that little extra something to the story. The world building was detailed, different places, different customs and so on, with  more areas of the world yet to be explored! The level of detail brought so much to the story without taking anything away from the plot or the pacing. I loved how creatures that in most other stories would have been hunted or used to further the plot, where in fact the main characters! It had a dark twist to it, and this, merged with the bursts of humour I felt when reading certain bits, plus the heart stopping fight scenes and other elements...well...it gave me a new fantasy series to completely obsess over! Although, the ending was bloody heartbreaking! 


Rating: 5/5
Buy or Borrow: Buy
Source: Copy Courtesy of NetGalley and the Publisher! 

In Darkhaven, peace doesn’t last long.

Ayla Nightshade has ruled Darkhaven for three years. With the help of Tomas Caraway, her Captain of the Helm, she has overcome her father's legacy to find new confidence in herself and her unusual shapeshifting abilities.

Yet three years ago, a discovery was made that could have profound consequences for the Nightshade line: a weapon exists that can harm even the powerful creatures they turn into. And now, that knowledge has fallen into the wrong hands.

An assassin is coming for Ayla, and will stop at nothing to see her dead.

Goldenfire is kind of a perfect sequel, I'm not going to lie to you all! I love how seamlessly it continues on from the first book, and I read this straight after the first one so I should know! I just loved how the main thing with the assassin was as a direct result of events and discoveries in the first book and I loved how the whole thing with the guns showed how things where changing in the world of the book, how the guards would have to train with them and how Tomas's training may become obsolete with this new weapon. It was such a great touch and really helped to carry the story further, I think! 

There where so many plot threads in this one again! Each of the threads smoothly came together to create yet another gripping plot. You have to try to work out who the assassin is and much like the first book, I found I knew for certain who it wasn't, but there where a couple of suspects, and I kept changing as more and more clues where dropped, and then I had the answer, but then I changed my mind and then I just kept switching my suspect until it was revealed and it was such a great chase the author lead me on! I loved how even if you do guess the right person...you're still not 100% sure, there's always the possibility you're wrong. There's so many clues and hints to put together and no matter if you guess correctly or not you're still going to be surprised. 

We meet a lot of new characters in the book, I'm unsure if there is going to be a third book but I hope there is because I'm excited to see what's become of some of the new characters we met! Ree is the first female hoping to be accepted in to the Helm and has to deal with a lot of ribbing from the boys, I wasn't sure if she was going to be all dodgy at one point, but I was happy that she defied stereotype/expectation/trope and helped Ayla when she needed it. We have Zander who ends up being very, very interesting and I'm desperate to know what happens to him next! Miles is another interesting addition, he wasn't entirely above suspicion for me, but he helped Ayla to make some rather interesting discoveries, that should there be a third book, could make things very interesting.  The other new character I want to mention is Penn, I had him pegged from the start but I was surprised how things turned out with him, he was another example of things being connected back to the first book so that the two carried on perfectly! He was another complex character, you see his struggle and you feel for him and then he does the thing and you're like oh Penn...I was really hoping you wouldn't. But you still kind of feel for him and I really want to see what happens next with him! 

Much like the first book, all the secondary characters are brought to life just as much as the main characters and are just as complex, and I think there's loads more to be discovered from them! You're probably dying to know about our favourite characters from the first book at this point! I was disappointed in the character of Serenna for her actions, I'm not going to lie, and we don't see much of Elisse, although how things ended have left me curious to what's going to happen to her and Corus! I'm hoping for a third book and assuming if there is one it'll jump to him being of age. BUT ANYWAY, not much of them, and I was kind of sad, but then Elisse was kind of being stupid with Corus's safety, I got it, I understood completely but at the same time I was like "This is so not going to end well for you!"

Things being how they where with Serenna we have a new addition and I felt so much for Ayla, she did the right thing, but Marlon was a horrible reminder of her brother, and I thought it was such a genuine situation and her actions were so sadly understandable, but I loved watching her overcome it all in the end! Ayla has grown even more in this book! You kind of see the extent to which she was shaped by her father, believing she's a disappointment and being half a Changer is nothing, when she's working with Miles and they make some discoveries she had no idea about! It's an interesting game changer shall we say! Tomas is now Captain of the Helm and I loved seeing how far he'd come, but he was still not entirely sure of himself when it came to he and Ayla and he doubted himself and the fact he's not perfect helps to bring him even more to life! I still can't believe they weren't married yet! Their romance had developed and I was just so gleeful at the end of the book! 
Sorrow is also back, and she just cracked me up, especially at the end. I was just kind of like...well then...typical Sorrow! We didn't see as much of her as I'd have liked, I don't know about you guys! I mostly just loved how she was doing the right thing and helping them without actually being paid, she went through quite a bit to help as well! Character development is a beautiful thing! 

In the sequel we see more of the world of the book,  not as much, but enough to get a feel for the place and I'm sure we'll be seeing it again in a third book. We also learn so much more about Darkhaven and how it's created, and I'm wondering/hoping, it's going to come in to play in the future. I'm so intrigued by the implications!  There's so much detail in this book as well, in the links between the assassin and Ayla, Penn and Tomas, the alchemy mentioned in the book, the discoveries made. The author really has a gift for putting in all the detailed without boring you, or slowing the pace of the book. This book was just as fast paced as the first, and the tension ramps up as you near the end of the book, I was on the edge of my seat as things played out, unsure what was going to happen. I mean...we all read Game of Thrones, we've all come to learn the harsh truth that no character is ever safe, and I was genuinely tense for the entire last part of the book. 

The multiple POV's continue with the chilling addition of the unknown assassin and said assassin's letters back to their employer. I read these with particular scrutiny but the author made no slips, and gave nothing away. Not even a gender! I loved the layer this added to the story, more clues, more suspense, more intrigue! I also loved the little journeys in to the page to see how events then, where influencing things in the present. 

Goldenfire smoothly continues on the story, as more knowledge of Changers and Darkhaven comes to light, new threats also make themselves known. You can forgive the book it's longer passages because the entire time you're reading your desperate to know more. More about the world, the characters and the plot as well as get answers to the many questions you have. The author gives us another fantastic mystery, with plenty of clues for you to puzzle over, yet still managing to surprise you when all is revealed, I just love how the author gives you so many threads and brings them all together smoothly and in such an engaging manner. I'm really hoping there is a third book, because there are plenty of things that have been left a little bit open  and I can picture such great things for a third book! 

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