# of Pages: 301
Time it took me to read: 3 days (1 Day)
# of pages a day to finish in a week: 43
Rating: 5 out of 5
Evelayn is the crown princess of Eadrolan, and she has always known her duty. She is to be the next in a long line of rulers of the Kingdom of Light, and must maintain the balance between her kingdom and Dorjhalon, the Kingdom of Darkness. When she comes into her power on the day of her eighteenth birthday, she knows she must train in the art of using her magical abilities so that she can help her mother the queen defeat King Bain, the dark ruler who has become greedy and seeks to control both lands, upsetting the balance of their world.
When the war shifts and Evelayn is suddenly thrust into far more power than she expected, she must quickly decide who she can trust, both with her kingdom and her heart. For treachery lurks in the air, but Evelayn knows that she will do whatever it takes to protect her kingdom and her crown—no matter the cost.
I am absolutely loving this whole “fairytale retelling” trend that is in YA these days. Okay, I know, technically Swan Lake, which this book is based off of, isn’t a fairytale, it’s a ballet, but it’s a story that is just as well known as most fairytales. But a big part of what I loved so much about this book is that it isn’t that closely based off of the original Swan Lake story, these characters and the plot are very much unique (keeping the book unpredictable), however it certainly maintains the tragic air of the ballet.
It was totally by accident that I stumbled upon Defy, the first book in the trilogy that introduced me to the works of Sara B. Larson. The main character of that series, Alexa, is brave, strong, and loyal, and is sort of a Mulan-type character. Evelayn, the lead character in Dark Breaks the Dawn, also has many characteristics of a strong, well-written female lead. Evelayn is powerful, stubborn, and faithful to her country. But she is also flawed, in that she is arguably more loyal to her crown/duty as a monarch than to any of her loved ones, and that though she possesses immense magical power, more than anyone else in her kingdom, there are still certain things that she should be able to do, but can’t. These flaws are what make Evelayn such a strong character, because it is pretty easy to make a badass female character, but it’s harder to make one that has the proper flaws that make her human, as well as your hero. This is something I’ll often notice when watching movies or reading books about “badass female characters” that are written by men. It’s just laziness in my opinion. You wrote a strong lady character, good for you, but she’s two dimensional, which is almost as bad as writing a female character that is noticeably weaker than her male counterparts, or even not writing one at all.
But my favorite, favorite thing about the way that Larson writes her leads is that she truly does not hold back on making them suffer. Alexa, from the Defy trilogy, loses her parents, her twin brother, and many close friends throughout her journey. Evelayn doesn’t get it any easier, either, as she loses her share of loved ones throughout the story. And the way that both of these characters deal with loss is to get back on their feet, entirely more ferocious than they were before.
Anyway, back on track, because Larson has a whole cast of likeable characters, along with several who are well-written also, but not so likeable. Lorcan is the eldest son of King Bain, the ruler of the Dark Kingdom, and the story will flit to his perspective every once and a while. There are times where you want to like him, a little bit, because he is totally abused by his megalomaniac of a father, and apparently doesn’t want to see him succeed. But still, he seems to like the idea of his kingdom ruling over the whole land, so in my eyes he still lands firmly on the “evil” side of the spectrum. I can’t get too into my opinions of Lorcan, cause spoilers, but if you’ve read the book and wanna talk about it, send me a message!
Anyway, another great thing about this book was the absolutely unique world that Larson has created. This is something that I really admired in the first series that I read by her, but she takes it a step further here, in my opinion. She writes beautiful, detailed descriptions of ceremonies for funerals, betrothals, transfers of power, the whole shebang, not to mention that her characters are all so unique looking, I can picture them so clearly in my mind. Evelayn, with her blonde and lilac hair, violet eyes, and diamond conduit stone embedded in her chest, and Lorcan, with skin dark as shadow and hair pale as snow, and a ruby conduit stone in his forehead. And the style of magic is so, so cool! I don’t want to go into it too much, because that’s a big part of the plot and I really want people to read this book.
Pacing, as I’m sure anyone who has read my reviews before will know, is a big factor for me. I think this book was paced pretty well, without wasting much time at all to get into the backstory and origins of the world. That information was there, for the most part, but it was interwoven with the plot, which was fast-paced throughout. You’ll see that at the top, I said that this book took me three days to read. Well, technically I started it a few days ago, got 53 pages in, and then read the entirety of the rest of the book today in like under four hours. I mean, it helps that the novel is relatively short, but I basically read the whole thing in one day, which is good pacing in my book.
Overall, I struggled a little bit about whether to give this book 5 stars. Not because I didn’t thoroughly enjoy it, because I did (I am literally heartbroken over the end and agonizing over the wait for the sequel). But I didn’t love it in the same way that I’m totally obsessed with Carry On, my book from last week, or even The You I’ve Never Known, my book from the week before. I almost gave this book 4 stars, but then I started trying to figure out a reason to take away a star, and I couldn’t find one. This book hits all my markers for a well-written, enjoyable read, so I figured, hell, I’ll give this one 5 stars too, three books in a row. I’m on a roll!
If I had to find a flaw in the story, it’s that there were a few little questions that I had that weren’t answered. Not like plot holes or anything, just little stuff (which I’m going to ask the author on Twitter and see if she’ll respond to me). P.S. If you wanna follow me on Twitter, I’m @sarahs-shelf. Also I’m on Instagram at sarahs_shelf_blog. I’m trying to do more on social media for this blog, so hopefully I’ll do some cool stuff in the future.
Anyway, if you’re a fan of great heroines, worlds full of magic, and a wonderfully quick read, you’ll love Dark Breaks the Dawn (though if waiting for sequels is hard for you, maybe wait six months or so before picking up this book. This is going to be a long wait for me.)
If you liked Dark Breaks the Dawn, try: Defy by Sara B. Larson
Cinder by Marissa Meyer
Three Dark Crowns by Kendare Blake
Nightshade by Andrea Cremer