Thursday, December 3, 2015

Review: The Last of the Firedrakes by Farah Oomerbhoy

(The Avalonia Chronicles)
by Farah Oomerbhoy
Wise Ink Creative Publishing
YA Fantasy
488 pages

16-year-old Aurora Darlington is an orphan. Mistreated by her adopted family and bullied at school, she dreams of running away and being free. But when she is kidnapped and dragged through a portal into a magical world, suddenly her old life doesn’t seem so bad.

Avalonia is a dangerous land ruled by powerful mages and a cruel, selfish queen who will do anything to control all seven kingdoms—including killing anyone who stands in her way. Thrust headlong into this new, magical world, Aurora’s arrival sets plans in motion that threaten to destroy all she holds dear.
With the help of a young fae, a magical pegasus, and a handsome mage, Aurora journeys across Avalonia to learn the truth about her past and unleash the power within herself. Kingdoms collide as a complicated web of political intrigue and ancient magic lead Aurora to unravel a shocking secret that will change her life forever.


I wanted to love this book--beautiful cover, interesting surmise and a genre I normally can't put down. And although there are many things I enjoyed about Aurora's story, there were other things which simply kept me from getting caught up in it completely. Still, I didn't want to lay this aside either because there was something about it which kept me reading--a spark which wouldn't let go.

Aurora is introduced as a normal teenager...well, except for the fact that she's adopted, her adoptive parents were killed and her new family isn't exactly kind to her. She's bullied at school, has trouble keeping up her grades and feels pretty at the bottom of things. In other words, she's sympathetic right away, and it was easy to dislike the family taking care of her. But I'm not sure why any of this had to happen. Although this explains some background which might be questioned later on, it's unnecessary. We never hear about the family again except slight mentions, and the school and bullying didn't do a thing. Plus, I had trouble getting into the beginning since it felt like things flew by too quickly--the problems are mentioned and shown, and then it's off right into the next one without much time to sink in. And at times, the reactions to things didn't quite fit (a hiccup that continues every now and then through the story).

I kept reading, hoping I'd fall in love with this because there was something about it which still seemed intriguing. And I'm glad I did. Once Aurora gets to her world, things get interesting. Although parts of this book felt a little cliche and already used somewhere else, it'd be wrong to say that this is really a problem. There are so many layers to this story, making it complex and interesting. Aurora's world is not simple, and neither are the lives of the characters around her. The deeper the story goes, the richer it becomes until I did get swallowed up into tale.

There's a romance, one packed with tension and difficulties. It's not an easy 'love at first sight' kind of thing with roses and fairy dust, but the kind which seems like it might never be able to happen. So many obstacles stand in the way--which is great. It had me cheering for Aurora and this man all the more, and has me waiting to see what happens in book two.

One of my biggest problems with this story (except for the beginning), was Aurora herself. She's likable and a wonderful character, but I wanted to slap her in the face at times. At sixteen, it's clear she'll be rebellious and not always be willing to listen to what she's told, but Aurora never learns. At times, she's just stupid. Despite warnings (and even outright being told), she heads out into the world and does things which will bring her into danger. And she does it again and again, never learning from her mistakes. Not even at the end. I really hope she develops in the next book because she's a character that deserves more than this. Her potential is amazing.

Summed up: This is an interesting read with a slightly bumpy path, and little trips and stumbles on the way. Still, this isn't a book to be totally overlooked. The plot is intriguing, the characters complex and it's a world worth getting lost in. So yes, I do recommend it to fantasy readers and am wondering what will happen to Aurora and the others in book two.

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