Dark of the West (Glass Alliance #1) by Joanna Hathaway
Publisher: Tor Teen (February 5, 2019)
Print Length: 480 pages
Audiobook Length: 14 hrs and 56 mins
Narrator: Barrie Kreinik, Dan Bittner
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.
While Dark of the West (Glass Alliance #1) has all the makings of a unique YA fantasy, it faltered with certain elements, leading me to question whether or not to continue with the series.
Dark of the West blends science and magic, in my opinion, expertly. While it was confusing at first, Hathaway falls into a rhythm with her setting that had me imagining a very steampunk-esk Etania and Savient. Furthermore, Hathaway’s ability to write politics was equally as intriguing. She had to keep track of each countries political ventures, as well as their international relations, making the novel seem that much more real.
Where I struggled, however, is with Dark of the West’s characters. While I enjoyed the male protagonist, Athan, the beautiful prose related to his flying, and the enemy to lovers trope between him and Aurelia, I had trouble connecting with the latter. As other reviewers have pointed out, she is the stereotypical YA fantasy heroine, not wanting to marry, having a creepy suitor, yearning for a better life. Normally this wouldn’t phase me, but whether it is due to being in a reading slump or searching for more unique characters, I reserved quite a few eye rolls for her.
I can definitely see, however, that the Glass Alliance series has the potential to be an intense rollercoaster of a series, and as such I will be picking up its untitled sequel when it is published in 2020.
Overall Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars
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And those are my thoughts on Dark of the West (Glass Alliance #1) by Joanna Hathaway. Have any YA fantasy recommendations you think I should check out? Leave them as a comment below and help my TBR grow.