Nightblade by Garrett Robinson.
Before I begin I feel I should disclose some background: I've been watching Garrett Robinson on Youtube since 2014 and I was there on the livestream when he named the main character, Loren. I had been looking forward to read this book for a long time when I was finally able to get it. Now, with that over and done with: to the review.
Short summary from Goodreads:
Loren dreams of escaping her cruel parents and becoming a great thief: Nightblade, a warrior of darkness and a champion of the light. Following the fugitive sorcerer Xain out of her forest home, she wears a stolen noble's cloak of fine black cloth and carries a dagger the world has not seen in centuries—a blade that can turn enemies to allies when she least expects it.
I'm torn with this one. On the one hand it's nicely written, but on the other hand I didn't quite enjoy it because I wasn't the target audience. It was a bit too much of young YA for me to truly enjoy it.
The first half of the book is quite stereotypical for a young fantasy story. There's a lot of the bad family situation of the main character, how she must marry for them to be happy, her running away the first chance she get, meeting a stranger who can aid her, and so on.
The part I liked the most is the last quarter, that's where things really start happening and get interesting. Overall it's not a bad story, it has promise, but the first book feels more like a prologue that could have been significantly shorter than a full-fledged story.
The plot is fairly simple. Girl dreams of adventure and to get away from an abusive family, girl run away from home with a stranger, meets some other strangers on the road, reach a new city, shit hits the fan and the girl makes every possible mistake to make things worse, the end (in a simplified nutshell). I would have liked a fresher and more inventive plot but considering it seems to be aimed at the younger YA ages it's still okay.
The characters are possibly my main issue with the book. The main character is alright, albeit a bit too naive and trusting for someone with her background, the rest are a bit flat. Even though they're shrouded in a lot of mystery you're not really given anything that would make them rounded characters, it all feels a bit plastered on (although I suspect and hope that'd be remedied in the sequels). Although they're distinguishable from each other they don't seem to have a life outside the story. I must say that Damaris is the most interesting character right now, she got a strong agency and just the right amount of mysteriousness.
The biggest issue is the speech patterns though. They all speak in the same way, with similar vocabulary. It's not believable for a street urchin to have just as an educated speech as a noble woman. Which they did in this book. No one's speech pattern varied at all, no accents or typical words for certain areas, no variations at all. It bothered me quite a bit. And if you decide to read this book: prepare yourself for the overuse of the word "mayhap".
The setting was quite good. It was well written and I could definitely imagine the bits we got to know. We don't get to know much about the world, so some of the characters motives are difficult to understand or grasp. I would have wanted to know at least a bit more than the very basics in 350+ pages, as it stands it doesn't feel like there's any world outside of the city the main character ends up in. The city itself is quite nicely established so that's good!
Total grade: 3/5