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Book Review

Publisher's Note:

On her eighteenth birthday, Princess Evelayn of Eadrolan, the Light Kingdom, can finally access the full range of her magical powers. The light looks brighter, the air is sharper, and the energy she can draw when fighting feels almost limitless. But while her mother, the queen, remains busy at the war front, in the Dark Kingdom of Dorjhalon, the corrupt king is plotting. King Bain wants control of both kingdoms, and his plan will fling Evelayn into the throne much sooner than she expected. In order to defeat Bain and his sons, Evelayn will quickly have to come into her ability to shapeshift, and rely on the alluring Lord Tanvir. But not everyone is what they seem, and the balance between the Light and Dark comes at a steep price. In the first book of a remarkable duology, Sara B. Larson sets the stage for her reimagining of Swan Lake -- a lush romance packed with betrayal, intrigue, magic, and adventure.…

Dark Breaks the Dawn

by Sara B. Larson

Overall Book Review:

I really, really wanted to love this book by Sara B. Larson. I mean, the cover is gorgeous, the world-building is unique, and the basis of the story – a retelling of Swan Lake – is incredibly interesting.

I’ll be 100% honest and say I was really intrigued with the magic system. The concept of people being born with conduit stones is awesome, and the idea of having two nations of people influenced by the seasons – the Light more powerful in spring and summer, and the Dark mightier in the autumn and winter – was very clever.

But I never connected with the main character, Evelayne, or her romantic interest, Tanvir. I suppose if their romance had been a little subtler and less hit-you-over-the-head-with-this-book obvious, I might have appreciated them more. As it was, I found the story interesting, but I didn’t like the characters, and for me, I need to like someone. (I may also have been turned off right off the bat by the term “marksmale.” That felt like a really forced effort to make the people sound like they were from a different culture. In other words, it tried too hard.) Other than that, I have to be able to root for a character’s story, and I didn’t, which made me sad. I thought this book had so much potential that I was a little disappointed at the end. However, I remain interested to see how book two goes. I don’t like to leave a story unconcluded, so I will be waiting for the second book to see how the author ties up some really intriguing loose ends, and brings “balance” back to her world.

If you like romance-influenced books in the vein of Sarah J. Maas’ Throne of Glass series, or Victoria Aveyard’s Red Queen series, give Dark Breaks the Dawn a try. You might like it.

This book was sent to Compass Book Ratings for review by Scholastic

Content Analysis:

Profanity/Language:  None 

Violence/Gore:  There are several mentions of past defeats and deaths; a girl falls backward while experimenting with new power; a character verbally fights with another; characters sometimes discuss war strategies and/or assassination ideas; a character occasionally violently kills others with magic; characters sometimes spar in training exercises; a character talks about someone’s death on a battleground; characters attend a funeral; characters almost die during a power transference; characters are occasionally held captive or imprisoned; characters are occasionally threatened with death and/or violence; a character describes the details of someone’s death (not overly graphic); a character enters the domain of a fearsome ancient being; a character suffers from a broken leg; a character gets knocked backward with magic; a character occasionally suffers debilitating headaches; characters discuss options for trapping and killing an enemy; a character threatens to carve out someone’s heart if they turn traitor; a report of an advancing army; a battle, with some description of violence and gore; a character is tricked and killed; characters’ palms are cut for a blood oath; characters are attacked at a party; a character threatens someone with a knife; a character is poisoned; a character is wounded and her power stolen.

Sex/Nudity:  A female character finds a man attractive; characters dance; a female character recalls the warmth of a man’s hand on her back; a male character pins a female character against his chest while training, with some description of her thoughts and emotions; a male and female character occasionally hold hands; a male character carries a female character; male and female characters flirt; a male and female character frequently kiss and touch; a character is told she must “bond” (marry) and produce an heir; a female character occasionally remembers kisses/near kisses with a male character; characters sometime walk arm-in-arm; a female character helps another female character undress for bed (not sexual); a male and female character share an intimate kiss; characters mention love, “binding,” and procreation a few times; a male character sometimes kisses a female character’s fingers; a character proposes marriage; a male character strokes a female character’s wrist; characters are said to wear clothes that reveal their bodies; characters make an oath of marriage.

Mature Subject Matter:

Death of a family member, war, torture, imprisonment, murder, revenge, assassination, treachery, drinking.

Alcohol / Drug Use:

Characters occasionally drink; characters mention dancing and drinking; a character is poisoned.

Overall Book Rating

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About the Reviewer

Fantasy is my bread and butter. I read and write it. I’m obsessed with world-building and fascinated with lyrical prose. I love that I can contribute to the writing community by recommending good books that can actually make a difference in a person’s life.