#SPFBO 8 Scarlight (Castles of the Eyrie #1) by Evie Marceau : Review

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What is SPFBO? Check out Mark Lawrence’s post here to look at this year’s entrants, judges and allocations list.

I am teaming up again with the ladies from The Critiquing Chemist.

Scarlight

Today I am posting the second of five reviews for the books that I rolled forward (see my feedback posts for batch No.12 and 3).  All told I carried forward five books, The Hidden Blade by Marie M. MullanyThe Blood of Crows by Alex C Pierce, Scarlight by Evid Marceau, Between Ink and Shadows by Melissa Wright and Miss Percy’s Pocket Guide to the Care and Feeding of British Dragons by Quenby Olson and over the next few days I will review each book in the order I read them.

So, without further ado here’s my review for Scarlight (Castles of the Eyrie #1) by Evie Marceau:

The story begins with a six year old princess, Bryn, sneaking out of the castle during a celebratory gathering to rescue a small animal believed to be a potent of war.  Unfortunately, the little princess is attacked by wolves and would surely have died if a young boy had not come to her rescue, a Baer Prince in fact.  The Baer Royal family are a wild sort that rely on magic, scorned by the rest of the Kingdoms their lands lie in the Outlands overlooking the sea.  The Baers believe that a life saved is a soul owned and so having saved the little Princess the Baer Prince and Bryn are now soulbound.

We then jump ahead ten years where the same princess is being outfitted for a ball for another gathering.  One in which it is hoped she will draw the eye of a good marriage prospect, a Baron no less.  As the guests arrive the Baer King and his family are unexpectedly amongst the number. They haven’t visited the castle since the ‘wolf incident’ and their appearance takes Bryn by surprise, not entirely unwelcome as she seems as fascinated by the youngest Prince, Rangar, as he is with her.  Unfortunately, an uprising is planned, to take place during the distractions and the castle descends into violence and fire.  Bryn only escapes with the help of the Baer Prince and his family and is taken to the Outlands.

I enjoyed Scarlight, it was easy to get on with although to be honest I wouldn’t say I was the target audience for this.  This falls into the kind of enemy to lover YA fantasy romance that I tend to stay away from these days, primarily because they don’t usually have the level of detail that I enjoy and this definitely felt a little light in that sort of detail, but I enjoyed it nonetheless.  Now, take my YA reference with a pinch of salt, I’m not an expert and I would also say that including a certain level of sexual content this would be on the higher side of YA – maybe NA. Basically, I’m unsure so if you’re thinking of picking this up and have concerns then check with the author.  Put simply, given the ages of the characters, the slight naivety, particularly on Bryn’s part, the fairytale feel, the lack of bad language and gore (there is of course bloodshed but it really takes place off page) –  I jumped to the YA conclusion, but there is some sexual activity present which gave me pause for thought and so I hold my hands up and say I’m not the oracle here.

The world building is one of the areas that felt a little flimsy.  We have a number of kingdoms that exist with a tentative peace. The Mirien, where Bryn is from seems to flourish, the Baersladen, on the other hand, appears to be remote and considered a more harsh way of life, the people there practice magic and are considered outdated and barbaric by some of the other kingdoms.  I didn’t pick up much about the rest of the country other than there are people from the Hytooths and the Surins.  The Mir people seem to be more genteel or refined, or at least that’s how they wish to appear, but this seems to be more face value as Bryn’s family are considered tyrannical – which is the reasoning behind the uprising – and are generally disliked by their own people.  The Baersladen do indeed lead a simpler life, less focused on possessions and wealth but overall their lives seem to be generally on the whole, happy ones.

The characters.  Well, we predominantly focus on Bryn and Rangar and I thought the author succeeded well in creating great chemistry between the two going from a smouldering, broody, untrusting sort of relationship to one that really fizzles.  There are other characters involved, particularly Rangar’s middle brother Valenden who seems to be the rogue of the family and enjoys stirring up rivalry with his younger sibling.  I did enjoy Mage Marna.  She seems a little more switched on than some of the other characters.  She is covered with hexes that help to focus her magical ability and she takes Bryn under her wing and teaches her some simple magic.

In terms of criticisms.  Well, as mentioned above I can be a stickler for information and this one is a little light in that respect.  That being said, this has a fairytale feel to it so I did cut it some slack and went with the flow, and,.I won’t deny that I was enjoying the build up of tension between the two central characters.  I didn’t quite buy into the whole aspect of Bryn’s family being tyrants – surely she would have noticed this – I realise that she’s quite innocent and protected in a fashion and was never really included within the ‘inner sanctum’ of the realm’s machinations, but, at sixteen I think she would be able to detect something out of order if her family were so universally unpopular with the people of their realm?  It felt a little flimsy to me but it didn’t spoil the read, it just nagged me a little.   Also, the whole ‘soul bound’ idea.  I like this but I would say it comes across more like an individual belief than something physical – I may be reading it wrong but to me Rangar and Bryn both seemed romantic by nature and the idea of them being bound felt more like an ideal or ‘fancy’ than something that could be felt.  Just my take of course at this point and things could change as the series progresses.

All that being said this was an enjoyable read.  I felt like it really gained strength as the book continued and I do enjoy a good story with a fairytale style and a little bit of romance where nothing is totally set in stone.  In that respect I would mention that this concludes on something of a cliffhanger.  Not my favourite way to end a story but I can see the reasoning as it certainly makes you keen to pick up the next instalment.

I received a copy courtesy of the author, for which my thanks.  The above is my own opinion.

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