Expected Release Date: March 22, 2011
Publisher: Old Line Publishing
Imprint: N/A
Author’s Website:
My Source for This Book: Won in a contest
Part of a Series: No
Series Best Read In Order: N/A
Steam Level: Steamy

Official Blurb:

Christine, a troubled teen with a dark past, is miserable in her small town. Shadowed in shame, she feels destined to live her lonely life as an outcast. She has no idea that her true destiny lies in a different town, in a different world; a most brutal world called Atriia. There she learns the true meaning of misery, the true meaning of loneliness, the true meaning of shame. But she also learns that her bravery is boundless as she battles against a formidable foe, a dark shadow that tries to smother the land. And in the arms of a most unlikely candidate, she also learns the true meaning of love. He is Hannen Fallier, the one they call the foul fraigen dropper, revered by men for his fearless feats, but looked upon by women with open disdain. With a face horribly mauled, he hides behind a mask of shame, deeming himself unworthy of love. That he would seek acceptance from Christine is irony in its purest form. That he would seek her love . . . the ultimate betrayal.

What Worked For Me:

  • One thing that initially put me off, but that I ended up truly loving, was the invented language of Atriia.  It was disconcerting at first to have these characters speaking in what almost sounded like Hollywood’s idea of Old English, but as the story progressed, the language became second nature for the reader just as it did for Christine.  I personally think that this was a brilliant move on the author’s part, because it really helped to not only immerse you into the world of Atriia, but also helped connect with Christine, as she struggled to learn the language and adapt to the differences between Atriia and our world.
  • HOLY CRAP at the twist! My jaw dropped and I almost fell out of my chair.  No spoilers, because I promise you, it would ruin the entire book if you knew the twist going into it, but if readers get past the language barrier, that twist is going to be what makes or breaks this story for most readers.
  • One of my favorite non-romance books of all time is The Talisman by Stephen King and Peter Straub. Billed as a fantasy horror novel, I’ve read it probably eight times since I first got it.  This book reminded me of that title a lot, in tone and originality. While the plots obviously have nothing in common, I couldn’t help but enjoy the similar vibe between the two.
  • I also enjoyed that while this is not a “romance” in the traditional sense, there was a very strong sense of romance in the last quarter or so which was very satisfying.
  • On a similar note, the steam level was delicious, even though there were only a few scenes involving sensuality over the entire course of the novel.

What Didn’t Work For Me:

  • I was a little taken aback by how quickly Christine adapted to life in Atriia. I’m not sure what I was expecting from her, but her quiet acceptance of the way things were in Atriia was a bit disconcerting.
  • I’m not certain whether or not there is to be a sequel. If there is, then this is a moot point, but if there’s not… I was disappointed that there were so many loose threads left at the end.  I was left with far too many questions for my comfort, which may have been the intention, but nevertheless left me vaguely dissatisfied.

I was lucky enough to win this title in a giveaway from LibraryThing, and finally got a chance to read it a few days ago.  I will admit, at first I was a little wary — not only is the cover far different from what I am used to, but I was afraid that it would have a Young Adult feel to it since the main character is a 17 year old girl.

I had absolutely no reason to worry. While Christine’s age is indeed that of a minor, she’s far older than her years would have you think.  Having survived a very traumatic incident, and dealing with the subsequent emotional and social fallout, she much more mature than anyone else her age. Combined with the horror elements of the story which made themselves plain rather early on, it helped to negate any worries I may have had about this being a “Young Adult” title.

I should also mention that I don’t typically read horror. As my blog title would suggest, I’m a rabid fan of romance novels, and as such stick almost exclusively to that genre. So to say that I’ve surprised myself by enjoying this book so much would be an understatement — even though the “romance” didn’t even come into play until almost right at the end, and the ending was decidedly not what I would consider to be a Happily Ever After, I loved it. I haven’t been able to find any definitive information on whether or not there is to be a sequel, but I sincerely hope so, as I’ve fallen in love with not only the characters but the fantasy world Ms. Bonning has created.

Recommended for fans of fantasy horror, of strong heroines who are not infallible, and of gothic and tragic romance.

4.5/5 Stars