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I finally finished the last book on my January TBR!!
*cue happy royalty-free cheer (that one from YouTube)*
I’m pretty proud of me. After DNFing Wearing Paper Dresses which I wasn’t so into, I picked this novel up and my reading slump was evicted. I’m also happy to have connected with the author of this novel on Instagram, which lead me to purchasing her novel and giving it a go.
Blurb: Orphaned and alone, Ashalea Kindaris has just one goal in life-- to avenge the death of her parents. But when darkness descends on the land, she discovers her motives are linked to a much larger quest. To protect the world from elimination, she must find the next Guardians of the Grove-- Everosia's inner sanctum and gateway to other dimensions. As shadows disperse and the forces of evil mount, Ashalea travels through water and wood, sewer and summit, to reach the chosen. Will her training lead to victory, or will the weight of unravelling secrets lead to her ruin?
I have so many thoughts and feelings on this novel, so keep reading to hear them all!! If you’re a high fantasy lover, you will love this novel. It’s a fun and quick read to pull you from any reading slump.
To dive into a novel set in a high fantasy world with new rules, races, countries and governing structures isn’t a choice one makes spontaneously. You know that you’re going to enter a new world. One unknown to you, that will shock you and make you feel like a knowledgeless imposter. You accept this and enter.
When stuck in a reading slump I like to jump into something unfamiliar. Meet more than new people. I want to be shocked back to life with knowledge from a place too far and to unknown to visit in person. Chloe Hodge delivered me such a place and far more.
The tagline for this novel, talking about an orphaned she-elf with murdered parents looking for vengeance, may sound slightly cheesy but that’s where the cheese stops because everything that comes after that is so fluid within the story. Every element melting together to form a perfect story.
My favourite part of this novel is the dynamic between the characters. From our protagonist, Ashalea’s family-like relationship with her human/wizard-mentor, Wezlan, that was full of understanding glances and trustful actions; to her acceptance and friendship with Shara, an outsider, different in many ways to Ashalea. The way she spoke of Shara was loving, the voice of someone who’s never had friends or outside contact before. Long gone were her countless hours of reading and training and here, her biggest and newest learning, friendship.
The powers that the characters possessed and the strength of these powers made complete sense when you understand their stories. I liked how the strengths of every character in the group vary on a scale and how everyone specialised in their own area of combat. This made parts of the story – especially combat – feel like a game of Dungeons and Dragons (D&D), which I loved as it’s a game I play with my friends. I play a tiefling-cleric in my campaign although Wezlan reminded me very much of the tiefling-mage in my party. Stronger, magically and therefore beneficial in battle.
High fantasy novels, especially those dealing with magic, are the easiest to fall into the plot hole trap where a character may have knowledge of something, an item, or something necessary to complete a task when they really shouldn’t. It’s the convenience issue. Vengeance Blooms had nothing of the sort.
This is clearly a novel written by someone who is well-read and understanding of issues that may arise when dealing with concepts of magic in novels. There were no plot holes, random knowledge points or characters obtaining items that weren’t theirs, to begin with. Everything was covered with a layer of logic and reasoning from a well-read and well-trained, vengeful she-elf.
I mentioned earlier the friendship between friendless Ashalea and Shara. Ashalea complimented Shara and spoke of her (to herself) in the voice of someone who was fascinated, maybe a little in love with the other. But alas, my dreams of a vengeful she-elf who hasn’t had social norms forced on her entire life, falling in love with an angry, torture-loving human were crushed by some boy.
And that’s why I didn’t like Denevar. From the moment he was introduced, even if we didn’t know he would be along for the ride, he had the feeling and air of an imposter. Maybe it was his line of work or the way he tried to woo Ashalea; or maybe because I was really hooping for Ashalea to confess her feelings (that I swear she has) to Shara.
I may have wanted him to die a couple of times, not gonna lie. But I came to accept he will be there and a part of the party until the end. Although… if he is a traitor in the next book I won’t be mad. I also won’t be mad if Ashalea and Shara get together. You know, just saying.
★ Rating ★
I rated this book a ★★★☆☆ (3.5/5 stars) because I did as I would with any novel and rated it against the books I’ve read within the genre and those include novels like Shadowhunters, ACOMAF and Once & Future.
I did adore this book and its characters. The dynamic between friends, adopted family and lovers throughout the story was perfect. The softness of romance within these relationship dynamics made me ooze happiness. Everyone’s distinct personalities and strengths allowed them to mesh together into this mismatched, misfit band of Guardians in the making.
Side note: I just finished reading Euphoria Kids by the wonderfully talented Alison Evans. So if this review seems a little dreamy and coherent, more so than my other reviews, it’s because that book is magic and had blessed me with a sense of calm and serenity unlike I’ve ever felt before.
See you back here on Monday’s (book reviews), Wednesday’s (storytime/ writing updates) and Saturday’s (other bookish content).