Review for Halayda by Sarah Delena White


  • My rating: 2 Stars
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  • Pages: 438
  • Publisher: Uncommon Universes Press
  • Spoiler-free review

A mortal alchemist. A faerie king. A bond that transcends death.

Betrayed by a trusted mentor, Sylvie Imanthiya hides on the fringes of society, caring for half-fae orphans and trading her alchemical creations on the black market. She lives for the one night each season when she can see her dearest friend—a man whose destiny is far above hers.

King Taylan Ashkalabek knows better than to exchange halayda vows with a mortal. Even their friendship is a risk; love is an impossible dream. Then a brutal alchemical attack poisons his realm, unearthing a dark power within him—and leaving Sylvie with the ancient mark of Faerie’s savior.

Manifesting unpredictable abilities and aided by allies with their own secrets, Sylvie and Taylan journey into the wilds of Faerie to heal the damage and confront Casimir, an invincible star-fae determined to claim the realm as his own. But only their enemy knows Sylvie’s true capabilities—and Taylan’s weaknesses—and how to use them in his vicious schemes.

Her fate is life. His fate is death. With Faerie in the balance, Sylvie and Taylan must stand together before reality as they know it is destroyed. Less

My Review

I received this e-book courtesy of NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

As soon as I saw “alchemy” and “faerie” in the description of Halayda, I had high hopes for it. Unfortunately, this book was a huge disappointment, and frankly, a waste of time.

The novel’s major flaw is the lack of world-building. White is extremely ambitious in her attempt to create a universe of a human and faerie realm, but she was unable to execute her vision properly. The physical aspects of the world itself was averagely described–in no way did White paint a vivid description. What I’m more disappointed in is the lack of foundation provided for the magic/alchemical systems. There was no structure for either of them, and it seemed like anything was possible without any limits or laws. I would have liked more of strict set of rules that applied to magic, it would have made the story much more believable. Another thing that could have added some verisimilitude is explanation of history and culture between the human and faerie realms. We were only given what was necessary for the story and nothing more; the world lacked any true depth for this reason. The complexity White was trying to achieve would have required subtle world building as the story progressed, but most facts were info-dumped in large amounts, making it very confusing to keep up. The fact that I needed the glossary to understand the different nuances of the novel just shows that White did not do her job.

The plot of the story seemed never ending. Honestly, the book seemed about 150 pages longer than it needed to be. Sadly, I found myself counting down the pages until I could finally be done. The story was not bad for lack of action–in fact, there was too much action. It just kept going and going, without respites for much-needed character development or world building.

Yet, somehow, I felt as if I had missed a couple chapters from the beginning. Right from the start, we are thrust into a story that just assumes that we know what is going on. There is minimal explanation for the situation, and it never comes. I was extremely confused for a solid 50 pages. This trend continues throughout the story–there is never clarification for any of the events, and the flow seems choppy. All I saw were the bare bones of a book rather than a finished product.

The characters are shallow and lack depth. Sylvie, our protagonist, is a supposed “good soul”, but all she ever did was whine that the world wasn’t fair and resolve to fix it like a good little Girl Scout. She really didn’t do much other than complain and cry. Taylan, the majestic faerie king, is a twat with about as much personality as Cinderella’s Prince Charming. The “love” between these two characters consists of them confessing to each other within 100 pages after 8 years of sexual tension. Then, all they do is kiss in every. Single. Scene. They never show their love, they only tell it.

The other characters were tolerable but stereotypical and shallow. My favorite was Sidika, a banshee who got 30 pages of screen-time (read-time?) max. The villain was typical, there was no motive to his malicious deeds.

The book being 440 pages was at the same time too long and not enough. There was too much endless action that didn’t seem to progress the story. I just really, really wanted it to be over. Within those infinite pages, there was no expansion or depth added to the world or characters. The premise seemed cool, but there wasn’t anything special about the magic or alchemy. The prose was average, but nothing witty or elegant. I was sorely disappointed with this one, and I couldn’t recommend it to anyone in good conscience. I won’t be continuing with the series.



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