*THIS CONTAINS MILD SPOILERS. YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED*
This book was truly amazing. After reading several disappointing fantasies in the last couple weeks, this one reminded me why I love the genre so much.
Elise Kova writes fantasy very, very well. I’d like to start with the characters, particularly Vhalla. Vhalla Yarl is our main protagonist, and I found her to be very relatable. Vhalla is an apprentice at the imperial library (dream job much?), and is known by her friends as an incredibly smart girl too preoccupied with books to have time for people. But although intellect was her main forte, she didn’t lack a spine either, which I appreciated. This girl is not afraid to ask for what she wants when she wants it. My only complaint was her indecisiveness. If I found out that I was an ultra-rare sorcerer and had the opportunity to live in a smaller version of Hogwarts, there would be zero hesitation whatsoever. But I can see where she’s coming from. Otherwise, everything else she did made me literally squeal. I hate to be the girly girl, but I was extremely happy when she was invited to the Gala. I kind of freaked out when she chose wear black to the ball. I really loved the significance of “taking the black” in this book ;).
Ah, and then there’s Aldrik, my precious brooding prince. I found the royals to be slightly stereotypical: on one hand, you have the younger, golden, loved prince–on the other is the mysterious and dark, yet misunderstood, prince. Kind of a trope, but… I loved them both, so it worked. Ms. Kova still goes through lengths to add depth to both of them, and there was meaning behind everything they did. Aldrik and his nonchalance ripped my heart to shreds, ESPECIALLY IN THAT DAMN TRIAL. Lord, this man is infuriating. But deep down I knew he was only trying to protect Vhalla. (*sniffle*).
Another thing I adored was the magic. I’ve always found myself a fan of elemental control (Avatar, anybody?). But not only did I like the act of magic itself, but the whole concept. I loved that sorcerers were feared, but they had their safe little Tower where everyone was equal and protected. There wasn’t too much detail going into the Tower, but I could definitely feel the atmosphere shifting while Vhalla was there. It was very homely and comforting, and I think that part of the reason I feel that way was because it was reminiscent of Hogwarts. I know, I know–they are very different places in very different worlds. They were similar to me, and not because Kova was trying to rip off Hogwarts or anything, but because of the mood they created.
This kind of sounds like nonsense, sorry.
There were two areas that I felt were a little lacking, and that’s where I deducted half a star. Now that I think about it, I can see they are vaguely related, so I’ll discuss them as a whole. I did not like the lack of development in the world-building or the plot. I’ll start with the world-building. This world definitely had potential, but the fact is, I can’t even remember what the world is called. Was there even a name? All the talk of North, South, West, etc… I was more than a little confused. There was effort in linking certain traits with geographic regions, but beyond this, I could only picture a round blob with compass names on it. I feel that because of this, there was no conflict. Something I learned over and over in my years of English was that the there had to be an inciting event, rising action, and a climax. There were each of these things, but they weren’t really related to each other. The conflict in the North took a backburner to the development of magic, almost to the point where I forgot it was there. And then BAM! It shows up again without a hint or warning–only extremely vague foreshadowing.
The way I describe it, it seems like this book is missing some essential ingredients, but the reason I only took off half a star was because I believe that the entire thing was an inciting event in and of itself. Honestly, I didn’t really notice the lack of directional plot while I was reading. In fact, I could not put it down. Air Awakens established a very solid, fascinating base that I can’t wait to see expanded upon. Elise Kova is a great writer, making it so readers understood explicitly what was happening, but still managing to add a hint of subtly behind her words. What is missing in the plot is made up for with action-packed, tense scenes as well as exceptional character development. Mildly put, I squealed and fangirled a lot. WARNING: THE EPIC ENDING MIGHT GIVE YOU A MILD HEART ATTACK.
I cannot wait to continue this series to see what it holds. The fifth and final book, Crystal Crowned, comes out today. I strongly encourage you to pick up this book!
Also, check out Elise Kova’s blog here. She has a pretty awesome Rafflecopter going on right now. 🙂 If you are interested in purchasing the books, buy it here:
Disclaimer: I received a paperback copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.