March 2011, Decadent Publishing
189 pages, ebook
Summary from Decadent Publishing
Fallenwood—a land where magic is the life force, dragons are sages, and wizards good and evil battle for supremacy. When 16-year-old Ash is thrust into the middle of Fallenwood’s power struggles, she is also forced to face her own inner battles. Life on Earth was hard enough on Ash, who is locked in grief for her stepfather. Now, the fate of Fallenwood rests on her shoulders. She must destroy the Great Crystal—the catalyst for all the land’s magic. As the kingdoms prepare for war, Ash must look inside to find the power to save the world, and herself.
I think the cover is pretty cool, and so too is Ash. She's got a lot of qualities which I share with her. I think that Leslie might enjoy knitting. I loved the sheep with brightly coloured coats that Ashley notes wouldn't need dyeing for yarn. Definitely a knitter's dream! Equally she's emphasis placed on knitted blankets, and also a particular opinon Ash has about handcrafted items, as well as a few other hints. Having connections like that with the protagonist really helped me cheer Ash on during her adventure. Her viewpoint is often funny, with some insightful statements made. Ash's ninja statement was particularly hilarious. She likes video games - also like me! She is intelligent, and tries to think one step ahead of the action. Events get too much for her at one point which is why she succumbs to manipulation by one of the antagonists. She definitely has a mind of her own, and is determined to do what is right, even though she'll upset a lot of people by doing so. She warms to her companions, who stand by her even when she makes a mistake and forces them out of a place of sanctuary.
I loved Ash and what happened to her. Her companions had distinctive characteristics. I particularly liked Morganessa and Greymalkin - sentient cats are always amazing. Several of the plot revelations had me pleasantly surprised, and wondering what would happen next, which is always a good thing in a novel. However, I did have a few issues with the story.
The first is the smoothness of the story flow. The story follows Ashley, but then it deviates to different characters involved in the story, following them one after the other, with a bit of time before returning to Ashley. I think perhaps there would have been more suspense if the point of view had gone from Ashley, to a different character, then back to Ashley etc. Although the information revealed was important and interesting, it felt that I'd been given it a little too easily. Plus I adore Ashley and wanted to find out how she was doing. This happened a few times. I felt the information could have been shared in a subtler way, involving Ashley more. The more it happened, the more annoyed I got. The information appeared from nowhere, with little connection to the previous chapter. I could see a couple of places where the seemingly irrelevant chapters could have fitted into the story. Because this happened so often it did pull me out of the magic a little.
One chapter ended abruptly and I couldn't quite make sense of it. Sometimes concepts were repeated within paragraphs of each other and they didn't really need to be. There was a character (who appeared in a few chapters) who played an important role in the story, but I couldn't really connect him to anyone. What he did was important, but it felt a little strange.
There were great forces fighting against Ash, but there wasn't much action from these people. I'd hoped for a little more danger and more scenes with the antagonists.
Ash is highly skilled at fighting, something which the enemy uses against her. However, for me this particular skill of hers wasn't used as much as it could have been. I'd expected more situations where she could prove her fighting skills.
The overall story is good, and I loved most of the ending. I was left feeling a little stunned and thinking 'wow'. The part about the ending which I didn't like was how rushed it felt. I felt that there was a whole chapter missing. What happens to Ash is a huge deal, and yet as a reader I didn't really see her view on it. Seeing as she was the protagonist, it felt weird that she wasn't examining her feelings about it.
Although the parts I have issues with are quite major, I would like to stress that I did enjoy the story.
I'll leave you with a line which I'm quite taken by (and now can't remember where I found it or who said it). The world belongs to those who see the beauty in it all.
Content is very harmless, only a few kisses, a little violence but not detail of the gory parts.