An exciting YA storyline about a young woman who finds herself in unusual circumstances and must reach beyond everything she has ever known to become something stronger.
I had very high hopes for Stonebearer’s Betrayal by Jodi L. Milner, and for the most part, the selection of the story I read lived up to the hype. I initially selected it based on a few factors. Firstly, it has a great cover. Some folks choose books based on recommendations, others on the blurb, but I am a sucker for an intriguing cover. Stonebearer’s has a highly dynamic cover and shows dramatic magic use.
The second factor is I am a heavy through-and-through grimdark reader. I joke that I have a little black heart. From my research before selection, the novel was said to have a young vibe. I thought trying something new and branching out a bit would be fun. It is not that I have never read YA before; quite the contrary, but it has been a while.
The premise is thus: Katira, one of the story’s protagonists, goes on a romantic hike/hunting trip into a forbidden forest with her love Elan. They have been told their entire lives that there is darkness in these woods and that they should stay away from them if the darkness and the evil in them find them. So, of course, as an unspoken ritual, kids entering adulthood need to go into the forest, at least briefly, to show that they are no longer kids but adults. And they can make stupid adult choices. However, as foreshadowed by the situation, Katira and Elan become surrounded by darkness. There the creatures surround them and move with an unnatural speed. It is terrifying. It is terrifying until a dark stranger appears out of nowhere and wields an unlawful and demonized magic that crackles. He has veins that glow with lightning crisscrossing his arms, enough to make Thor proud.
However, this power is shunned, so much so that it is said not to exist anymore. Elan acts with an understandable reaction of fear. Katira realizes that the person with lightning flowing in their veins is her reserved and humble blacksmith of a father. She realizes she does not know him at all, and her world starts crashing down.
I only read the story to 25%, but while I do not have the beat-for-beat plot points for Katira and the other main characters, I believe I have a general idea of style, language, and plot arc. I also want to point out that this is a great story until I stopped reading it to write this review. It is precisely as it is purported to be, an exciting YA storyline about a young woman who finds herself in unusual circumstances and must reach beyond everything she has ever known to become something stronger.
I had two nagging issues with the story that jettisoned me out of the narrative. First, some passages read as moment-to-moment happenings. “Katira does this, she does that.” And the other is that I found some of the characters’ choices confusing even this early in the book.
There are no serious issues for me that glare out from the story; instead, these are nitpicky things that impacted me as a specific reader. But honestly, I can see myself finishing this book and reading the sequel. It is, thus far, a highly entertaining premise. I know this book will find an additional readership, as it should. If you are looking for a fun story with an interesting take on magic and a strong central character, this would be a great one to pick up.
But in terms of the competition, I am cutting Stonebearer’s Betrayal by Jodi L. Milner.