book review, fantasy, historical fiction, romance, Young Adult

Dark of the West | Book Review

My Rating: 4/5 Stars

Title: Dark of the West

Author: Joanna Hathaway

Format: Hardcover (owned)

Pages: 480

Publication Date: 2/5/19

Categories: Young Adult, WWII Inspired World, Historical Fantasy, Romance, Family

He was raised in revolution. She was raised in a palace. Can their love stop a war? Code Name Verity meets The Winner’s Curse in Joanna Hathaway’s Dark of the West, a breathtaking YA fantasy debut.

Aurelia Isendare is a princess of a small kingdom in the North, raised in privilege but shielded from politics as her brother prepares to step up to the throne. Halfway around the world, Athan Dakar, the youngest son of a ruthless general, is a fighter pilot longing for a life away from the front lines. When Athan’s mother is shot and killed, his father is convinced it’s the work of his old rival, the Queen of Etania—Aurelia’s mother. Determined to avenge his wife’s murder, he devises a plot to overthrow the Queen, a plot which sends Athan undercover to Etania to gain intel from her children.

Athan’s mission becomes complicated when he finds himself falling for the girl he’s been tasked with spying upon. Aurelia feels the same attraction, all the while desperately seeking to stop the war threatening to break between the Southern territory and the old Northern kingdoms that control it—a war in which Athan’s father is determined to play a role. As diplomatic ties manage to just barely hold, the two teens struggle to remain loyal to their families and each other as they learn that war is not as black and white as they’ve been raised to believe.

  • My favorite part of this book is the intensity in brings. Athan is the youngest son of a General who is ruthless and has a reputation for fighting and winning wars. The General is a hard man who is always scheming. Aurelia is a Princess raised with rules but her mother is a Southern with a past that threatens their monarchy rule. There is a lot of political intrigue in this story and it brings the tension between all sides involved.
  • I was very invested in Athan and his struggles with wanting his dad’s approval, competing with his older brothers and wanting to be with his mother. I felt awful for him and what he had to deal with just to survive his family. His brothers all want to be the apple of their father’s eye and will do anything for his praise. Athan wants to disappear but he can’t because of his loyalty to his family and his mom’s memory. So what will he do?
  • Aurelia’s mother, the Queen of Etania is an intriguing character. She’s from Resyna but we don’t know much about the country because the story doesn’t travel there yet. All we know is what the characters tell us, and Sinora, the Queen has past that is entangled with Athan’s father. What happened exactly? We don’t know, but I hope I find out more about it in the sequel.
  • Having grown up in the 80’s, I was a big fan of the movie Top Gun and watched it a lot. This story is inspired by World War II but the plane fights reminded me of Top Gun and Athan is definitely Maverick. And Cyar is Goose ~ except I hope Cyar has a better storyline than Goose did in the movie! I enjoyed the flying and stunts in this book a lot though.
  • The political intrigue and scheming is very good and just like chess. Everyone is making moves and we aren’t sure who is going to win at this stage of the series. It’s a back and forth match but winner will take all. Unfortunately Athan and Aurelia are caught in the cross-fire.
  • The romance between Athan and Aurelia is sweet and very slow. They are both young, both have secrets but enjoy each other’s company. Will their bond continue to stay strong when the truth lets out?
  • Triggers: murder, violence, war
  • Aurelia at times comes off as naive but there was a moment in the end where she shows that she really isn’t just a useless princess. I’m curious to see what happens to her in the sequel.
  • Athan is said to be brilliant and smart but his character doesn’t seem to show it at all. He’s a good pilot, maybe shows off and disregards the rules too much, but brilliant strategist or something? I don’t see that yet. Maybe in the sequel?

I am glad I finally picked up this book. I was thoroughly entertained and was invested in the story because the tension between the warring countries was really good. The General seems to be a step ahead of everyone, or is he? I’ll need to find out more in the sequel but so far I’m enjoying this WWII inspired fantasy world with intriguing characters and a lot of political intrigue.

✈︎ ~ Yolanda

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