|Pub. Date:||May 17, 2016|
This fantasy is my first read from Emily B. Martin. I'm not sure why this story is being classified as a fantasy because there are not really any fantastical elements. There are separate kingdoms, each having a different commodity (silver, pearls, lumber, etc). There is war between the kingdoms, prophecies and their own form of religion known as The Light. But there are no magical characteristics or special powers or anything like that. There was a little bit of action and some political intrigue, but for the most part it was a meandering quest through the woods.
Mae is a Woodwalker who has been exiled from the Silverwood. Woodwalkers are stewards that protect the mountains; they patrol the woods for trespassers, monitor the trees for beetle infestations, and check for weaknesses in the landscape from silver mining. Mae was exiled from her homeland when she spoke out against the former king, Vandalen. She risks execution if she enters the Silverwood again, nevertheless she agrees to guide a group of displaced royals through the wood to get to their home in Lumen Lake. I liked Mae - she was a solid and capable heroine. She has been fending for herself for 5 years of exile, and she managed to lead the pampered royals through Silverwood without (much) detection. She was a bit short-tempered at times, but I really couldn't blame her given who she was dealing with.
The royals of Lumen Lake, Queen Mona Alastaire and her brothers, Colm and Arlen, barely escaped when their kingdom was invaded by a warring monarch seeking to fulfill a prophecy. They have been in hiding for the past three years, but now hope to make it back to their lake and drive out the enemy. I didn't care much for the royals, except for the strong and silent Colm. Arlen was loud and immature, and Mona was loud, stuck-up and spoiled. I guess Mona was acting queenly, but she really treated everyone like they were beneath her. I think I would have left her stranded in the woods before they got very far into their quest.
There is a decent twist in the story - its predictable but I felt like it was well thought-out and integrated into the plot. While I liked this book, I didn't love it. I do feel that it could be a good starting point to a series showcasing Mae in her new role, which has the potential to be interesting going forward.
I received an advanced copy of this book from the publisher via Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review.