ARC Review: Dark of the West

Author: Joanna Hathaway
Series: Glass Alliance #1
Genre: YA Fantasy
Page Length: 480 pages
Publication Date: February 5th, 2019
Publisher: Tor Teen
Source: Publisher
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Aurelia Isendare is a princess of a small kingdom in the North, raised in privilege but shielded from politics as her brother prepares to step up to the throne. Halfway around the world, Athan Dakar, the youngest son of a ruthless general, is a fighter pilot longing for a life away from the front lines. When Athan’s mother is shot and killed, his father is convinced it’s the work of his old rival, the Queen of Etania—Aurelia’s mother. Determined to avenge his wife’s murder, he devises a plot to overthrow the Queen, a plot which sends Athan undercover to Etania to gain intel from her children.

Athan’s mission becomes complicated when he finds himself falling for the girl he’s been tasked with spying upon. Aurelia feels the same attraction, all the while desperately seeking to stop the war threatening to break between the Southern territory and the old Northern kingdoms that control it—a war in which Athan’s father is determined to play a role. As diplomatic ties manage to just barely hold, the two teens struggle to remain loyal to their families and each other as they learn that war is not as black and white as they’ve been raised to believe.
"Dark of the West" immediately pulled my attention as it was pitched as a fantasy book set in a time of war, filled with espionage, fighter pilots, rebellion, and political intrigue. While I found all of this in the novel to varying degrees, I couldn't help but feel like I wanted more from this novel.

"Dark of the West" follows two protagonists: Athan and Aurelia. Athan is the youngest son of the ruthless general of Savient. Brought up during his father's rebellion that united three regions and set his family up as a military powerhouse leader, he feels obligated to serve as a pilot in the Savient army. I really liked Athan's point of view. He definitely seemed boyish at times - understandable as he is seventeen - and I liked his admirable loyalty, self-deprecating humor, and daring nature. Princess Aurelia hails from a small Northern kingdom. She is constantly underestimated and always shut out of council meetings that dictate the runnings of her kingdom much to her chagrin. While I felt Athan's character was stronger, I think Aurelia's character development in this book, especially near the end, is only for her (and our) betterment.

The seemingly doomed love that fosters between Athan and Aurelia in this book is both adorable and heartbreaking. They both have secrets they've held from each other and I cringe when I think about the fallout. But they've also sacrificed for one another so maybe there is hope for them yet. This book follows young love in its purest form. While I enjoy the cute moments this couple shares, it doesn't overshadow the rest of this war-ridden plot.

Speaking of war, the plot of this book really gave off world war vibes. The colluding, the rebellions, and talk of military strategy really fascinated me throughout this book and brought a unique twist to a classic fantasy setting. Athan's chapters where he flies his airplane into battle and trainings are my favorite parts. There is something so utterly fascinating to me about seemingly commanding the air and flying about through such a vast and open space.

I also really enjoyed learning more about the political landscape throughout the world as you learn of the refined Northern Kingdoms and the rebellion brewing in the untamed South, filled with resources and riches the Northerners desperately want to keep under rule. I do wish this advanced copy had come with a map as I started to get lost among the many mentioned cities and regions.

The secondary characters were also strong in this novel. Athan's entire family is a thorny enigma that I hope is explored to greater depths in the next book. Athan's conniving eldest brother, Commander Arrin, is heralded as a strategy genius, yet shows moments of mercy and protectiveness towards Athan. While his other brother, Captain Kalt aims only to please their father, no matter the cost. I really liked Athan's fellow pilots in this book, their camaraderie and manner remind me vaguely of "Top Gun". Aurelia's family, her brother Reni and mother Sinora are also complex characters I'd like to understand better. Both keeping secrets from Aurelia and each other, I wonder if they're doing what is best for their kingdom or what suits their personal interests and survival.

Joanna Hathaway's story was very engaging and kept my attention throughout. I just had to know how the story was going to end! The writing was addictive and easy to follow. I did feel that the plot took some complicated turns near the end, and I wish it all wasn't so rushed.

I think I'd set my expectations just a little too high for this one. This is a great first book in a series that I believe has a ton of potential though. "Dark of the West" definitely lad down the foundation and built up the characters and world, so I have high expectations for the next novel!

Rachel is a teenaged unapologetic fangirl and perfectionist.

She loves reading for the escape it gives from reality and enjoys crying over books, swooning over characters, and laughing out loud over funny lines. She is a semi-recovering Netflix addict and a middle child of three.

You can find her on Twitter @yaperfectionist & Goodreads.

1 comment:

  1. This sounds right up my alley! I'm especially interested in the secondary characters as I've been rereading books with my favorite secondary characters and I kind of fell in love with their position in the story all over again. They're so often overlooked because they don't hold as much perceived importance but who doesn't love a good side character?? Anyway, definitely adding this to my TBR :) Lovely review, Rachel!

    Laura @BlueEyeBooks


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