A huge thanks to Lucy A. McLaren for a copy of her brilliant novel in exchange for an unbiased review.
The Kingdom of Septima is ruled in all but name by the Commune, a ruthless cult that seeks control of an ancient power that has taken root in unsuspecting children in Septima. To maintain their hold on the kingdom, the Commune will stop at nothing to capture children who show signs of this power, to be weaponised or eliminated.
18-year-old Evelyn Folksman is in hiding. Taken in by a tavern-owner, she is haunted by the horrific events that drove her from her home years before. Evelyn is forced to face her past when two wayward children, Raif and Rose Huntsman, arrive at the tavern, pursued by Commune soldiers. The children fall under Evelyn’s reluctant care as the trio narrowly escape a raid.
Relentlessly hunted by Commander Jonah Sulemon and Commune agent Lord Eirik Torrant, Evelyn and Raif cannot fathom why they pose such a threat to the Commune, until six-year-old Rose unwittingly reveals a terrible secret: she possesses powers more fearsome than any the Commune has unearthed in decades. There are only two options: to be captured and imprisoned, or to run for the rest of their lives.
My biggest surprise of this book is that it’s the author’s debut novel. It is so skillfully written and addictive and I cannot wait to read the next book.
Awakening is told from three perspectives but it works and comes together so well. We see things from the point of view of Evelyn, an abandoned child taken in by the local inn owner and forced to flee her home when they decide to shelter two children from being captured by commune soldiers. Some of the narrative is from Raif’s perspective, a young boy who rescued and protected by Evelyn and hides a dangerous secret about his siter Rose. Jonah Sulemon is the third narrator and it was his perspective I found the most intense. Sulemon works directly for the commander and is charged with hunting the children down. I found his character arc the most fascinating as he had a strong dichotomy happening he went through some big changes in mind and heart. Having the three different perspectives really ties all the different aspects of the story together.
The setting gives vibes of a story set in more historic times. Streets filled with cobbles, horseback used as transport, pies, ale and stunning scenery creates a very immersive world. I became completely immersed in this book and the vivid description really brought it all to life.
The plot moves quicky. The beginning of the book introduces the characters, situations and sets the scene for the series but in a way where there is never a dull moment and something is always happening. It’s intense at times and the last 25% had me glued to the pages. I let out a sound of annoyance when it ended and I know the next book isn’t due for a little while. This is such a brilliant novel and I am eagerly anticipating the next installment. It has great characters, a despicable bad guy and fabulous world building. I cannot recommend this enough
Author Bio – Lucy A. McLaren
As a writer, Lucy spends her time capturing on paper the imaginary kingdoms, far-off places and characters who live there (and their pets, of course) that her brain throws at her at completely random times of day.
She’s been a fan of fantasy stories since she was a child, but especially loves to explore her characters through the real-world lens of mental health— what have they been through, what are they feeling and why are they how they are? She uses a mix of counselling theory and D&D backstories when creating her characters. Add a pinch of magic, ruthless cults, authoritarian, patriarchal leaders or murderous lunatics, and perhaps a talking animal or two, and you’ll have an idea of what her stories involve.
Her favourite books and series include His Dark Materials, The Priory of the Orange Tree, Liveship Traders, and The Age of Madness. She’s an avid video game player and loves epic roleplaying games, including God of War, Horizon: Zero Dawn, and Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild. She also enjoys smaller, character-focused games like Everybody’s Gone to the Rapture or What Remains of Edith Finch.
When not writing, you can find her spending time with her husband and young son, attempting to watch the latest Marvel film or fantasy TV series (such as The Witcher or Shadow and Bone), or taking way too many photos of wildlife in her local parks and woods.