Tuesday, March 28, 2023

Today's read... Guardians of Dawn Zhara by S. Jae-Jones

Okay...you might have seen my mistake. I thought this was a book birthday, BUT it seems that the release day has been pushed back until late August. So, there will be plenty of time to get excited about this one.

Guardians of Dawn #1
by S. Jae-Jones
St Martin's Press
YA Fantasy
416 pages

AUGUST 29th!!!

Sailor Moon meets Cinder in Guardians of Dawn: Zhara, the start of a new, richly imagined fantasy series from S. Jae-Jones, the New York Times bestselling author of Wintersong.

Magic flickers.
Love flames.
Chaos reigns.

Magic is forbidden throughout the Morning Realms. Magicians are called abomination, and blamed for the plague of monsters that razed the land twenty years before.

Jin Zhara already had enough to worry about—appease her stepmother’s cruel whims, looking after her blind younger sister, and keeping her own magical gifts under control—without having to deal with rumors of monsters re-emerging in the marsh. But when a chance encounter with an easily flustered young man named Han brings her into contact with a secret magical liberation organization called the Guardians of Dawn, Zhara realizes there may be more to these rumors than she thought. A mysterious plague is corrupting the magicians of Zanhei and transforming them into monsters, and the Guardians of Dawn believe a demon is responsible.

In order to restore harmony and bring peace to the world, Zhara must discover the elemental warrior within, lest the balance between order and chaos is lost forever.

GOODREADS: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/36241527-zhara
AMAZON: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1250191424
BOOK DEPOSITORY: https://www.bookdepository.com/Guardians-of-Dawn-Zhara-S-Jae-Jones/9781250191427
B&N: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/guardians-of-dawn-s-jae-jones/1141976645


Each character pops off the page in this complex tale of magic, power, and hope.

Zhara does her best to keep her magic hidden. Not only is any sign of magic an instant death sentence, but the hunt for magicians is underway thanks to the increasing appearance of abominations (magicians turned into monsters). When she accidentally bumps into a strange man while trying to procure her favorite book, she winds up with a forbidden tome in her hands concerning magic. Soon, it becomes clear that the mythical Guardians, who are to protect magicians and the world from demons, might be real, and Zhara must find them.

First off, what a cover! That alone had me wanting to pick this one up and dive in. Then, there's the Sailor Moon and Cinder comparison, which peeks interest. So, I went into this one with high expectations, and already having read works from this author, was ready not to be disappointed. While this read wasn't what I expected, it was a fun ride.

Each character packs personality. Tons of it. In some ways...and maybe this comes from the Sailor Moon angle...they almost feel cartoonish and over-the-top but not quite. This makes each one quirky and very individualistic in their own ways. It was a treat to meet each one and gave each scene an extra zest of life. 

The plot is complex and weaving, which considering this is the first in a series, great. There are many layers to the magical world and secrets abound. The history was laid out enough to build up a beginning base and get the world set-up. There are still holes at the end, but that's not a problem since there is plenty more to come. This can go so many directions, and I'm looking forward to see which ones it will take.

Comparing this one to Sailor Moon and Cinder was, in my opinion, not the best direction to take...outside of the fact that it does catch readers' attentions and markets nicely. But the tale doesn't really follow either of these. There's a tiny bit of a Cinder atmosphere in the beginning, but this disappears rapidly. As to Sailor Moon...well, I don't see it. Then, there's a BTS insert, which raises eyebrows. So, not what I expected.

The writing style is easy-to-read and draws in. The lower end of the YA audience will feel at home in this one, not only thanks to the writing but also due to the characters, since their concerns hit this age level nicely. There's a somewhat superficial atmosphere to the read, and that with the thickly woven plot, ends up creating an original and interesting mix. The only thing about the writing which bothered was the pronoun useage. The author explains that these are to follow the more Asian language direction with familiarity, but the problem is that this is written in English for English speakers. So, the sudden 'they' instead of he/she, due to familiarity usage in the Asian languages, not only confuses but plucks out of the story and world flow. The reader has to pause to realize what's going on.

All in all, this is a very enjoyable read and world with characters to really enjoy. I found the style light and refreshing with tons of potential on what is still to come. And I am looking forward to seeing what will happen next.

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