Sometimes I will judge a book by its cover. In this case, the book is a cover-cousin to mine, created by the very same Dominique Wesson who brought you Innes’ chiseled abs. How could I resist? I mean, look at this!
Author Hayley Reese Chow has brought the indie world a unique high-fantasy story and setting. Under the god Odriel, three heirs were granted mystical powers: Dragon, Shadow, and Time. Each manifests and is used in a separate ways, but all three together are intended to help defend the realm from dark forces.
Protagonist Kaia is an angst-filled teen who has been gifted the dragon’s fire, and has come to be the active heir of those powers far sooner than she believes she’s ready to do so. Perhaps she’s right, as the beginnings of her journey to defeat The Lost (an army of undead controlled by a powerful necromancer) find her in more than one disaster. With her confidence shattered and the fate of the world resting on her shoulders, Kaia and her childhood frenemy and Shadow Heir, Klaus set out to save the world. Unfortunately, they are absent their Time Heir, whose healing gifts are integral to the success of the other two Heirs.
Chow’s world-building is rich, and while there are definitely identifiable elements borrowed from other works, she’s used them to creative effect. She weaves a setting of new creatures and things without infodumping that too-often slows pacing in novels of this genre. She trusts the reader to roll with the unfamiliar
The romance subplot is added with a light touch, and though it is telescoped (in my opinion) that doesn’t detract from the believable growth of it. It ties into the plot nicely, aided by Kaia’s frustrating and authentic obliviousness.
Chow is also a poet, and her prose shines for it. Her descriptions strike that perfect balance, giving the reader enough to visualize without telling their imagination what to do with that information.
I recommend this to fans of high fantasy, zombie stories, and maybe even Dungeons & Dragons. In fact I purchased the audio version for my spouse on his commute. I mean, Kaia knows the #1 rule of fighting undead: Don’t just set them on fire, because then you have ambulatory fire, and that is not something we can turn our noses at in this house of fantasy lovers.
Did I mention the snarky cat? There’s a snarky cat. And a ragehound who is too good for the world.
You can find Chow on Twitter, Instagram, and at her website. Give her book a chance! You can read the first chapter here on her website.