Award: Awesome Indies: APPROVED
Categories: YA Fantasy, Young Adult
Publisher: Perfect Analogy Publishing
Author: Sally Slater
Brash, cocky, and unbeatable with a sword (well, almost), Sam of Haywood is the most promising Paladin trainee in the kingdom of Thule… and knows it. The only problem is that Sam is really Lady Samantha, daughter of a duke, and if anyone finds her out, she’ll be marrying a Paladin, not becoming one. But Sam has never held much interest in playing damsel-in-distress, and so she rescues herself from a lifetime of boredom and matrimonial drudgery. Disguised as a boy, Sam leaves home behind to fight demons — the most dangerous monsters in Thule — alongside the kingdom’s elite warriors. Pity that Tristan Lyons, the Paladin assigned to train her, is none other than the hero of her childhood. He hasn’t recognized her — yet — but if he does, he’ll send her packing. Sam is not the only trainee hiding secrets: Braeden is a half-demon with a dark past that might be unforgivable. Whether he can be trusted is anyone’s guess, including his. As demons wreak havoc across the land, rebellion stirs in the West, led by a rival warrior faction. A war is coming, and Sam must pick a side. Will saving the kingdom cost her life — or just her heart?
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Reviewed by Katt Pemble – June 22, 2016
Who doesn’t love a plucky young heroine who bucks the trend in terms of propriety and generations of tradition?
Disney is doing it more and more these days, to great success, and Sally Slater has also done so.
Sam (Lady Samantha of Haywood) is a young woman who certainly knows her own mind. She’s stubborn, cheeky and a bit too rambunctious for her own good sometimes. But hey, a girl’s gotta stand up for herself.
I liked Sam, quite a lot more than I expected to. You know, you go into a Young Adult Fantasy with the expectation that you might not quite ‘get’ the protagonist because you’re not a young adult anymore… too many stories have had protagonists that come across as too young and silly. But not Sam, no, she was a great character. She had her silly moments (as everyone does) but she was also strong and snarky, while at the same time – and I don’t know how Sally did this – vulnerable and sweet in the same breath.
I am so glad that this book didn’t go where I was expecting it to in regard to the love interest. I was totally prepared to roll my eyes and sigh, but Sally didn’t do that. Instead she chose the path less travelled. She made Sam’s choices realistic, hard and fraught with danger. I loved that.
I also liked how Sam and her band of merry men and half-demons didn’t get everything they wanted to get or do everything they wanted to do. This meant that they had to work for their goals, when faced with adversity they did the unexpected and sometimes they didn’t win. I loved that some of the personal choices the characters made were negative and had real impacts on those around them. It was like watching the story unfold for real people.
The plot was spot on. The pacing perfection. The writing almost flawless. Humour and silliness even occurred in measured and amusing doses throughout the story too. So, why not 5 stars then?
I couldn’t help feeling that there was something missing: other strong female characters. We have one other female character that plays a nice role and I like her (I have an idea how she’ll come in to play in the rest of the series which I hope comes to fruition) but it felt as if the women were becoming extinct. And that was a let down.
A couple of things I noticed:
79% – I would have though(t) the ten years I spent in his company…
88% – …and it didn’t (take) long to talk himself…
**Note: I was provided an electronic copy of this book through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review**