Daughter of Redwinter (The Redwinter Chronicles #1) by Ed McDonald

My five Word TL:DR Review : Great start to new series

DaughterofRedwinter

As first in series go Daughter of Redwinter made an impressive start.  Well written, ample world building, sets off with a quick paced and dramatic start and definitely left me wanting to read more.

I’ve read this author before and enjoyed his original series so was excited to see he had a new book about to  release.  To be honest, I absolutely loved that cover and that and the author was enough to make me request this one.  I tend to find these days that the less knowledge I go into the read with the better as my high expectations have less chance of getting  out of control, so, I picked this one up with very little idea of what to expect.  As it happens this is an intriguing world indeed.  I’ve started to form attachments to the characters and more than that I once again found myself enjoying the style of writing which has a gritty earthiness to it.  I wouldn’t call this grimdark more it has a realism that is dark and sometimes harsh in a way that reflects life – although, what, am I talking about?  This world has magic, ghosts, demons and other curiosities.

To  be fair, and given how little knowledge I actually went into this one with I’m a little reluctant to say too much about the plot.  In fact thinking about it now, it’s not that easy to actually pin it down.  We meet Raine as the story begins, she’s in a bit of a predicament and is trying to find an escape route when she comes across an injured woman who she helps to safety.  Now, as it happens this might not have been the best decision and Raine certainly questions her own choices later on but who wouldn’t help out in such a situation?  Anyway, the woman in question is being pursued by one of the Draoihn, who will go to any lengths to capture this woman, or more importantly recover the ancient relic that she carries.  This then forms the catalyst for everything else that takes place and in fact is the start of a mystery that is the central theme of the story.

Characters.  Raine is an interesting character who has led a difficult life.  Seventeen years old, a couple of near death experiences have given her the strange ability to see the dead. This isn’t always a pleasant gift to be sure but more than that it places Raine in a very dangerous situation as such abilities are forbidden and a swift death is the penalty. On top of this Raine encounters a strange woman who appears, at first, to be helping her.  She knows little of this woman other than she doesn’t seem to be a typical ghost or apparition and she can communicate with Raine which is definitely a new and not entirely welcome development.  Raine finds herself travelling back to Redwinter, hoping to become a Draoihn apprentice (having discovered that she has the ability to open the first of the gates) but at the same time fearing discovery in terms of her other magical ability.  There are of course a number of other characters who play strong roles but I’m not going to mention them all here suffice to say that Raine eventually starts to form meaningful friendships and discovers that she likes having friends.  I liked the way Raine’s character developed.  She makes mistakes of course and spends some time blaming herself for events, she can also be very prickly and not altogether likeable given the cold way that she tackles situations (there are reasons for this but I won’t give those away here) and on top of this she finds herself suspecting almost everyone of being party to the main mystery and jumping backwards and forwards before she finally reaches a conclusion.

This is definitely an interesting world although I wouldn’t say that I can at this point speak of it with any real confidence.  There is the Light Above and the Night Below.  Five Crowns, spread across the land, hold the realms together, stabilising the spheres of existence (life, death, creation, etc) and keeping in place a veil that separates mortals from Demons, The Faded, ghosts and the dead.  The Draoihn access magic by opening a gate in their mind that accesses the spheres of existence and provides certain powers), the first gate is the easiest and helps to enhance perception, from there, each gate becomes more difficult to access, each one providing it’s own strengths  ranging from mind control to healing.  I’m actually not doing the best job of describing this so you may be pleased to learn that there is a glossary and list of Dramatic Personae at the end of the book.

In terms of criticisms.  Well, I loved the start of this and was really eager to find out what was going on.  The story had great pace and there was plenty of action.  Once our MC reached Redwinter I found that things slowed down considerably, which I don’t mind, I wouldn’t want the entire book to have the same breakneck pacing, but, the middle of the book felt like it dragged its feet a little. I think some of this was the need to explain things, to have Raine listening to lessons and other conversations as a way of feeding information to the reader.  I wouldn’t say that this made me reluctant to pick the book up though  because that wasn’t the case at all, just I felt like things were drifting a little and at this point I wasn’t entirely sure where the story was taking me.

Overall though, a really good start to series.  An intriguing world that I’m keen to learn more of and a main character who has plenty of scope for future development.

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

My rating 4 of 5 stars