Thursday, February 7, 2019

Book Review: Dark of the West (Glass Alliance #1) by Joanna Hathaway

Media Type: Ebook (ARC)
Title: Dark of the West
   * Series: Glass Alliance #1
Author: Joanna Hathaway
Publisher: Tor Teen
Pages: Hardcover; 480
Release Date: February 5, 2019
Source: Publisher / FFBC Tours
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Content Screening: Violence

HDB Rating: 3 Keys to My Heart

Recommended to: Readers who love sweeping military epics with vivid characters.

Add it on: Goodreads | Amazon | B&N
He was raised in revolution. She was raised in a palace. Can their love stop a war? Code Name Verity meets The Winner's Cursein Joanna Hathaway's Dark of the West, a breathtaking YA fantasy debut.

Aurelia Isendare is a princess of a small kingdom in the North, raised in privilege but shielded from politics as her brother prepares to step up to the throne. Halfway around the world, Athan Dakar, the youngest son of a ruthless general, is a fighter pilot longing for a life away from the front lines. When Athan’s mother is shot and killed, his father is convinced it’s the work of his old rival, the Queen of Etania—Aurelia’s mother. Determined to avenge his wife’s murder, he devises a plot to overthrow the Queen, a plot which sends Athan undercover to Etania to gain intel from her children.

Athan’s mission becomes complicated when he finds himself falling for the girl he’s been tasked with spying upon. Aurelia feels the same attraction, all the while desperately seeking to stop the war threatening to break between the Southern territory and the old Northern kingdoms that control it—a war in which Athan’s father is determined to play a role. As diplomatic ties manage to just barely hold, the two teens struggle to remain loyal to their families and each other as they learn that war is not as black and white as they’ve been raised to believe.
I've been excited for Dark of the West since I first saw glimmers of it on the internet. It should come as no surprise to any of you here, since sweeping lands and epic battles tend to be my favorite subject matter. I'm also a sucker for star-crossed lovers of any kind, so the story that was set to take place between Athan and Aurelia seemed like something I'd fall madly in love with. I really couldn't wait to dive straight in. No apologies friends, this is going to be a lengthy review.

Now, in all fairness, the prologue threw me off a little bit and I want to let anyone else know that picks this book up that it's a little misleading. Keep reading, because the rest of the book will pull back and let you take in everything that led up to that little moment in time. I finally understood the intent after I'd read through a few chapters. To see our two characters in a moment when their war torn world had turned them against one another, and then to see the story unfold that got them to that point. To avoid spoilers, I can't say more. I will say, I almost wish that prologue hadn't been there. I very much enjoyed just getting to know our two protagonists, and I kind of wish I would have skipped and it read it at the end.

Oh, and trust me, these two protagonists will steal your heart just as easily as they did mine. I loved the fact that this story is told from a dual POV, and loved it even fiercer for the fact that both Athan and Aurelia get an even amount of the story telling space. Being allowed to see things unfold from both of their perspectives is really what made this book soar. To be able to see events, sometimes cataclysmic, and their effects on the world at large was grand. To be able to see how those events affected not only Athan and Aurelia, but their whole small worlds, was even better. I felt like it gave me a lot of time to love them, to see their personalities unfold, and to really see the cleverness that was hidden in each of their minds. Two young people, trapped under the thumbs of their elders, but with enough passion and intelligence to do loads more if only they had the chance. That, was my favorite part.

Which is why this book started to weigh on me after a while, alas. Although Joanna Hathaway does an excellent job of building this sweeping world, and the war threatening to tear it apart, the battles and coupes are the main focus of this book. I grew tired of listening to political intrigue after a while. Some chapters felt like they could have been wrapped up in many less pages, if only Athan or Aurelia would stop thinking so incessantly and actually act. I know this was all for the benefit of the brewing uprising. I know that this was a way to get the reader really entrenched in the treachery of it all. For quite a long while, I was a happy to follow along. It wore me down though, and soon I just wanted more of Athan and Aurelia. More of their brightness, and their intelligence, and less of their terrible parents and their war.

This story is solid. The premise of this book is beautifully handled, and I loved a lot of what I read. The writing does justice to the vast story that it creates, and Hathaway easily shows her prowess as an author. There was honestly a lot here that made me smile. It just stretched on quite beyond what I was expecting. The ending, especially, was like stumbling down a steep hill with nothing to hold onto. I grasped at every little scene that hinted at the promise that things were coming around to the prologue I mentioned above. Instead, it rolled into an ending that leaves things open for the next book, like I assumed it would. This is the first in a series, and the ending has no qualms with letting you know that.

My deepest wish is that the next book has more action. I need more romance, more familial relationships, more plotting and scheming by our protagonists. Preferably, I'd love to see a little less military precision. I think now that all the cards have been laid out on the table, there's some promise of that and I'm excited once again. I can't wait to see what happens next.

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Win (1) of (10) physical copies of DARK OF THE WEST by Joanna Hathaway (US Only) 
Giveaway Starts: February 5th, 2019 
Giveaway Ends: February 18th, 2019

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FTC Disclosure: I received a copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. I was not monetarily compensated for my opinion.

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