(Cover picture courtesy of Anthea Sharp’s blog.)
Superstar gamer Spark Jaxley’s life might look easy, but she’s part of an elite few who guard a shocking secret; the Realm of Faerie exists, and its dark magic is desperate for a foothold in the mortal world.
Aran Cole hacks code and sells his gaming cheats on the black market. It’s barely a living, and one he’s not proud of. But when he turns his skills to unlocking the secrets behind Feyland—the most exciting and immersive game on the market—he discovers power and magic beyond his wildest dreams.
Spark’s mission is clear; pull Aran from the clutches of the fey folk and restore the balance between the worlds. But can she risk her life for someone who refuses to be rescued?
[Full disclosure: I requested and received a free ebook from Anthea Sharp in exchange for an honest review.]
In Feyland: The Twilight Kingdom one of my favourite characters was the teenage gaming superstar Spark Jaxley. She was sassy, tough and a talented gamer and I wanted to learn more about her. Imagine my surprise and happiness when I learned that the first book in the spin-off series would actually feature Spark as a main character.
I was far from disappointed, believe me. Spark sure is a sassy, tough and talented gamer but she’s also a teenager who’s lonely in her fame. Her fame makes it hard for anyone to see her as a real human being requiring company that’s on the same level. I liked the whole it’s-lonely-at-the-top angle Anthea Sharp gave her because it’s far more realistic than Spark revelling in her fame 24/7. Of course there are advantages (mainly the gaming itself) but I found it interesting to see Spark not just as a good gamer, but as a lonely teenage girl.
Aran Cole was also a fascinating character. He’s extremely poor and one of the best hackers out there when it comes to finding game cheats. He certainly has the motivation to improve his station in life and he’s not afraid to manipulate people to get what he wants. Aran’s not your typical cold-hearted criminal, though. Although he tries to hide and deny his feelings, he does feel quite a bit of guilt about his hacking. Especially when it lands Spark in danger later on in the novel.
So basically you have two awesome characters. How was the world-building? As with the original Feyland trilogy, the world-building is fantastic. I liked that Anthea Sharp focused more on the real world with this one, especially the gaming culture that Spark is so immersed in. It gives you a better picture of her imagined future where extreme wealth and poverty stand in stark contrast to one another. Of course she also adds some new stuff to Feyland itself, but the new information we learn is mostly about the real world.
The plot was so fast-paced that although I intended to only read a few chapters, I ended up finishing the whole book in one sitting. Spark is one of my favourite main characters and her and Aran’s story was fascinating. They’re both great characters in a fast-paced novel with three dimensional world-building. What more can you ask for?
I give this book 5/5 stars.