SPFBO: King of Ash and Bone by Melissa Wright

Series: Shattered Realms #1 Rating:  4.6/10
Date of Publishing: February 2nd 2015 Genre: fantasy, YA,
Publisher: self-published Available: Amazon, Barnes & Noble
Number of pages: 218 Author’s website: Melissa-Wright.

Quote of the Book

“For an instant, she thought she was falling, but she was merely bent back, the hooks of his talons fastened into her shirt and towing her skyward.

It was only a breath, the blink of an eye, and she was flying, feet lifted to dangle midair as her body hung beneath the beast who’d grabbed her.

Visions of flight and prey birds rushed her, but this thing had no need of his wings, even if she was his carrion. They pressed flat against his back as he rose, sleek as any man. His claws ripped into the fabric he clung to, a thin leather jacket the only thing that kept the meat of her frame intact.

She glanced at the ground beneath her, impossibly far away. It was flattened earth and upturned sunshine. It made no sense at all.

A heartbeat later, the creature’s claws opened, dumping Mackenzie to plunge into the empty air below.”

Blurb

When flying monsters break through the veil into her world, Mackenzie Scott has nothing left to lose. Her brother has been taken, her future has vanished, and all that remains is a desperate need for revenge. After discovering the breach the creatures used as a gateway, Mackenzie devises a plan to stop them, whatever the cost. 

When she finds an injured stranger in the street, he just might be the key she needs to succeed. What Mackenzie doesn't know is that this stranger isn't the helpless boy he appears to be. He's one of the monsters. And he's got plans of his own. 

Thrown into a dying city in another realm, Mackenzie is powerless to get back. With the gateway closing, time is not on her side. But the stranger is, and if they can escape execution, this girl and her monster might be able to save both their worlds.

SPFBO Note

Please keep in mind these are personal thoughts only. We will update this post as the judges read along and add their opinions. This book has already been eliminated from the competition, but one of us liked it enough to write a full review. You can follow our progress on our SPFBO page.

Jen’s Review – 6.8/10

King of Ash and Bone grabs you right out of the gate, I really enjoyed it and read it in an afternoon.

After her world around her pretty much blew up and she lost Riley, her only remaining family, Mackenzie has come up with a plan. She is going to return to the place she saw the crack in the world to get photographic proof and tell the army so they can do something… she doesn’t know what, but anything to close it and hopefully rescue her brother. It’s more of a last-ditch desperation act than a plan but it’s better than sitting around waiting to die.

***

I love all things Fae which was probably helpful knowing the lore because this is a drop-in figure it out as you go post-apocalyptic world. I thought the style worked well for showing us how out of depth Mackenzie was feeling, as she didn’t know what was going on and was shell-shocked by the events.

But there were moments where I found it was confusing even with my knowledge of the Fae. Some of the concepts take a bit to get your head around as they’re spoon-fed to us, which helped to minimize the info-dumping and kept the pace up to a decent clip, but a little patience is definitely needed for this style. This is also where my love of Fae stuff kicked in because I recognized the influences during some of the lighter on the explanation scenes taking place. And I really loved that there was enough of a spin on that lore to keep my attention while feeling very different and didn’t feel ‘been there done that’. Especially in a genre that’s inundated with similar scenarios.

The scene setting was beautiful in places and I found the story to be immersive – though the world feels very closed and I was not sure how big an effect the events had outside of the areas that are covered here. There’s a military presence but whether it was to go around and fight or to just keep everyone in the safe zones or both, I was unclear about.

The story has that feel of a romance book with a bit of an attraction between the H/h but with a heavy dosing of the world building, of a fantasy. There is no sex or ditching everything for love. The hard choices stay that way even when you kind of want them to ditch everything for love.

I liked Mackenzie. She wasn’t a sobbing fool or a kick-ass snarker. She’s terrified but not the type to sit around and wait to be rescued. The plan to set things in motion to get the story on the road might have been a little flimsy but the rest was so fun! She’s so focused on saving her brother, herself, and then her world, that the bigger picture of the outcome for the other world wasn’t something she could see or care about – until she realized how much of it involved her brother. I liked this because that selfishness was very real feeling. Why should she care about a bunch of monsters who wreaking havoc on her world just because she met a man? Once it gets more personal, then she starts to see beyond her little corner of the world.

Hunter was different. He wasn’t really alpha but he wasn’t a weakling either. He’s torn between the two worlds, family, politics and what’s right for the people, and it shows. I kind of like that he was so tied by his choices that he is almost paralyzed because of them- giving him no options at all for a good outcome. I almost felt like he was in the role that is typically the heroines.

There was some foretelling about who Hunter was, if you didn’t read the summary (which I didn’t until after) I appreciated that we could figure it out on our own, if we were paying attention.

On the whole – I thought this was a really fun story. It hit a lot of my buttons for romance and fantasy and because of that maybe got a bit of a higher rating for the enjoyment factor. I can see though that it could be polarizing with people with it’s quick-paced style, that barely lets you keep up or digest what you’ve learned but I found it was worth the effort. I guess that part would be where I had to deduct some points- it just needed a little more clarity in some areas. Also, this book does end on a slight cliffie. It’s not a horrible one but it’s certainly not finished here.

Other notes

There’s a POV  switch late in the book- those don’t always work for me. This one didn’t bother me so much, maybe because the we get to know him through her, I’m not too sure.

I absolutely will be looking to squeeze the next book in to my schedule. Can’t wait.

 

Timy’s Review – 3/10

Honestly, I’ve be struggling with this one. Partly because apocalyptic urban fantasy settings aren’t something I usually enjoy reading about. This one also had a YA feel to it – which is not a bad thing in itself, don’t get me wrong. This is a short book, and a fast paced one, which would have benefited if there was more worldbuilding – there would have been plenty of space for it – and the characters were more fleshed out. We drop right in the middle of the events and there is hardly any stopping to get our bearings, to actually get to connect with the characters or understand what’s going on. Overall, this book didn’t appeal to me and decided to move on from it.

 

Nick’s Review – 4/10

I think I would have enjoyed this book more had it not been so heavy on the romance.  This is a charming portal fantasy with a fairly cool story about winged monsters tearing a veil into our world and taking the main character’s brother back into their own realm.  The story was very cookie-cutter in my opinion with not a lot of depth to the characters.  The only reason why I kept reading was that portal fantasy is my favorite sub genre, but I decided to quit this one about 35% in due to the lack of any real hook to make me engaged in what was happening.  This would probably appeal to someone who enjoys YA fantasy or a light fantasy without any edge, but this was not for me sadly.

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