Recommended for ages 12+
The world of Atolas is a world where emperors and kings rule the land. Wealth determines one’s place in society, and social stations carry more weight with some of the populace than with others. Isabelle and Henry have grown up side by side and have fallen in love. Henry, a prosperous carpenter, wants to marry Isabelle, whose wealth is in name alone, but her father won’t allow it. When her father turns to a terrible way to get Isabelle out of the way and get to her mother’s gold, Henry comes to her rescue – and their group, including their siblings, Henry’s childhood friend, Ruther, and Henry’s apprentice, Brandol – find themselves on the run from the Emperor’s guard. There are rough times ahead for Isabelle, Henry, and their group. There will be betrayals, secrets, and a hard journey to freedom for them all.
I really enjoyed this book, the first in a new series by author Jacob Gowans. It reminds me of an old-school adventure, with the young lovers in peril, the hidden betrayer, an epic journey both in body and in spirit – each of the characters in the group goes through emotional upheaval through the course of the book – and a thread of magic that promises to grow stronger as we progress through the series. I love this book because it’s the kind of book I can give to my more conservative teens, my teens who love a good romance, and my teens who love an epic fantasy. It’s a relatively clean book – there’s some battle violence and references to concubines – but it’s within acceptable levels for teen reading. Fans of older movies will be drawn into the sprawling lands and hero’s journey that lays ahead. The ending of the book promises a sequel that will pick up where this first book leaves off.
Speaking of that second book, guess what’s next on my night table? So get ready, check out A Tale of Light and Shadow, and get yourselves up to speed for the next book in the series, Secrets of Neverak.