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Saturday, June 17, 2017

ARC BOOK REVIEW: Fallen Flame by J.M. Miller

Synopsis from Goodreads
Nineteen years ago, on the island kingdom of Garlin, a girl was born. With charred skin as rough as rock, Vala was instantly feared. For how could one be scorched by magic when it had perished ages before?

Recognizing an asset, the royal family welcomed her on their Guard. Her detail: the prince.
To watch. To protect. She has grown with him, lives her life for him.

When the high kingdom’s princess comes to assess the prince, assassins of rival courtiers come to claim his life. One nearly succeeds in his mission. But with shadowy movements and charred skin like her own, Vala knows he is not like the rest.
As threats to the prince continue and questions about Vala’s life begin to rise, she faces a fear worse than fire or water, worse even than losing him.

She fears finding out who she truly is.
Expected publication: June 19th 2017
Source: Received a e-ARC from Publishers via Netgalley

Review (3.5 Stars)

I was lucky enough to get a ARC of this book in the last week and as you can read in my Waiting on Wednesday post I did recently I had high hopes for this book. I however have come away from reading it a bit disappointed.

So this story follows Vala as she protects the Prince of Garlin. Yet a series of events at the start of the novel result in her searching for who or what she is. This is coupled with a bit of political mystery as a neighbouring Princess and her mother arrive in hope of marrying the prince and joining there lands, but the Queen is looking for something more. So Vala as well as searching for her own answers she also must figure out what the foreign queen is after.

This is a very plot driven book, it is all about Vala searching for answers. I enjoyed the story there was a hint of romance and maybe even a love triangle to begin with but nothing much developed with these (although I think it is likely that the romance side of the plot might feature more in the sequels). I think the main things which let this book down for me has to be the lack of world building and the limited 3D-ness (technical term there!) of the characters. I also felt as though there was a lack of information on Vala's skin 'condition'  at the start of the novel, it did become clearer as we got seem more of Vala but to begin with I found it confusing.

Regarding the world building, well in my opinion there just wasn't any, other than some at the Sacred Lake, I couldn't tell you where the royalty live (apart from it has a conservatory, bedrooms, dining hall, kitchen and prison cells) but I can't picture it. The fog aspect of this world came as a complete surprise to me about a quarter of the way through the book, I would have through that the fog would have featured more in the earlier scenes, as much as it did from that point on ward, it almost felt as thought it was a detail added by the author part way though the writing process! I also didn't feel the personalities of the different characters, as the reader you could glean some personality traits from peoples actions but I didn't 'get to know' them that well, I didn't feel as though I could predict how they would reaction or ally themselves in situations.

Although this sounds like a negative review, I did enjoy the book, it kept me reading. My favourite aspect has to be the way that withholding just one piece of information, grew into this web of secrets and lies for Vala. This book was overall an okay start to a trilogy but there is a lot of development I would hope to see in the sequel in both world building as well as character development.