(Cover picture courtesy of Two Ends of the Pen.)
Sixteen year-old Breena Perdit has spent her life as a barmaid, innocent to her father’s past and happily free from the Elemental gifts that would condemn her to a life in the Egrian King’s army. Until the day that three Elemental soldiers recognize her father as a traitor to the throne and Bree’s father is thrown in jail—along with the secrets from his last mission as the King’s assassin. Secrets that could help the King win a war. Secrets he refuses to share.
Desperate to escape before the King’s capricious whims prove her and her father’s downfall, Bree bargains with him: information for their lives. It’s a good trade. And she has faith she’ll get them both out of the King’s grasp with time.
But that was before the discovery that she’s the weapon the King’s been waiting for in his war.
Now, time is running out. To save her father’s life and understand her own, Bree must unravel the knot of her father’s past before the King takes his life– and uses her to bring a nation to its knees.
[Full disclosure: I received a free ebook copy through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.]
You know, at first glance it would seem like Threats of Sky and Sea has it all: an interesting plot, some fantastic world-building with new takes on old tropes, a tough main character and plenty of intrigue. Except when I finished reading Jennifer Ellision’s debut novel I was left feeling kind of hollow.
Unlike with many books, I know exactly why I was feeling hollow by the end: there really wasn’t that much action in the whole novel. Yes, there’s action when Bree is plucked from her home and there’s quite a bit of action near the end of the novel but there’s really not all that much in the middle. Despite the minor plot surrounding the king and the king’s generally evil intentions, I was left feeling that the plot lacked something. I mean, Bree’s in a court where pretty much everyone hates her because of her father’s betrayal of the king. Surely some people would try to remind her of her place, of her rough upbringing? Surely there would be some other intrigues! When it comes to novels I’m not that demanding in terms of plot pacing but I do like for there to be a little more substance to the plot.
Still, despite that I really loved the characters in this novel. Bree is strong and brave but she at least learns when to keep her mouth shut, unlike a lot of YA heroines. She’s definitely not your traditional heroine in the looks department either because she has short brown hair (gasp!) whereas the current trend usually has heroines with red hair. Not only that, Bree really does love her father but that doesn’t mean she isn’t annoyed and hurt by his betrayal. He told her nothing of her birth, of her abilities for sixteen years and you can’t expect someone to forgive another person (even their own parent) for a betrayal like that. She grows to forgive her father, yes, but it’s a long path in that regard.
For a first novel, the world-building in here is fantastic. Even for a second, third or tenth novel as a matter of fact. I like how people born with elemental powers are both feared and respected as the king takes them in to fight for his army. Not only that, I like how there is still quite a bit not known about where the powers come from, how and when they manifest, etc. It makes it a little more realistic than Bree’s crazy teacher having all of the answers about everything. Not only that, Jennifer Ellision has given quite a great deal of thought to the rest of her fantasy world and you can tell that we’re going to see a lot more of the other kingdoms mentioned in the next few books.
So aside from the lack of substance in the middle of the novel I was very impressed with Threats of Sky and Sea and I can’t wait to see what Jennifer Ellision dreams up next.
I give this novel 4/5 stars.