Release date: January 5, 2016 (republished)
For hundreds of years, the peaceful country of Haven has remained isolated from the rest of the world. But for adventurous seventeen-year-old Katelyn Kestrel, Haven’s calm has always been a little, well, boring. She can’t help but wonder what lay outside Haven’s seemingly impassible borders, but no one will talk about the mysterious catastrophic event that separated Haven from the outside world. Katelyn has a strange knack for finding things, and when she miraculously finds a passage into the outside world, she thinks she’s solved a longstanding mystery. Instead, she discovers that some things should never be found . . .
The outside world is more treacherous than Katelyn ever imagined, full of monsters, magic, and two princes locked in a bloody, centuries-long battle. The moment she arrives, she is kidnapped and held captive in a nearby keep, accused of being a northern spy. With the help of a hardened young soldier and a handsome lord, Katelyn must try to escape and find her way back to Haven. But there are dark forces at work that Katelyn can’t begin to understand, and she’ll be lucky to make it out of the fortress alive .
This book was one big breath-taking adventure. At the start I was not so sure about this steampunk-themed story that had characters with distinct modern mannerisms, but once the part came where she goes to the ‘outside’, my mind slotted it into fantasy easily and the from then, it was a wild ride. Katelyn is taken prisoner, then tested, tortured – all because she is believed to be first a spy and then later a source of power the Princes need. Most of the book is her planning her escape which somehow gets her in much worse situations. She, however, doesn’t break under the foreignness of her surroundings or the intimidation of people who are lethal beyond control. The world-building was so interesting – the mix of steampunk and traditional fantasy elements, the mountains that separated the two, and the order of governance in the Lastlands. Her primary driving force for the book was to keep Haven out of the control of the Lastlands, even when she loses the one she starts to love.
Speaking of love, the romance, while mostly a backstory, didn’t do much to convince me. It was insta-love at best, and Rune is honestly not that interesting of a character. And while on the subjects of characters, the villain was stereotypical power-hungry maniac, so expecting something better in the subsequent books. The other secondary characters that were interesting were Leila March and Brendon Axton (I really hope to see more of him), while Dylan was a predictable douchebag. Overall, I think the plot, storytelling and world-building are the highlights of the book. The world in Haven, though, still confuses me a bit with its weird customs, and the romance leaves much to be desired. I am, however, optimistic about future books because the world of it itself interests me.
Received a free galley from Alloy Entertainment via Netgalley; this does not influence my opinions or the review.