My Rating: 3 stars
Genre: Portal Fantasy
Age Category: Young Adult
Type of romance: MF
A dangerous world filled with magic. And now there’s no way home.
When Lydia and her friends get trapped after an earthquake, their only chance for survival is walking through the mysterious gateway they find deep within the mountains. They arrive in the world of Adylra. A land of magic, unicorns, and danger. When the gateway back home disappears, they find themselves stranded and searching for a way back.
As Lydia struggles with the growing power inside her Aidric, the Prince of Thavell, discovers her secret. Together they work to unlock the mysteries of her magic. But the more Lydia learns, the more she realizes the prince and the king may have their own plans for her magic. As alliances strain and her friends are thrust into dangerous situations, the answer to how to get home eludes them. And Lydia worries what will happen when her friends find she’s the reason they’re lost.
And she may be the reason they can’t get back home.
I received a free copy from the author. I voluntarily reviewed this book.
I really liked the sound of the blurb for this book, so when the author offered review copies I jumped on the chance to read and review this. I liked the plot and the set-up, but sadly this book didn’t fully work for me and I didn’t get fully pulled into the story. I wanted to see where the story went, but I had trouble connecting to the characters, I didn’t feel the romance and the world didn’t come alive. I was invested enough to finish the book.
The story is told from Lydia’s point of view. We see a bit of her life on earth and how she’s hanging out with her best friend Erin and they decide to go hiking the next day or Lydia’s 16th birthday along with Erin’s brother Murphey on whom Lydia has a crush and Erin’s boyfriend John. While hiking some strange things happen and eventually they have to go through a portal that brings them to another country.
It was interesting to see these characters get stranded in a totally different world and try to blend in while finding a way home. There’s a mysterious women they meet and after that Lydia rescues a young men who eventually takes them to the capital. The story takes some interesting turns, but I had trouble getting fully immersed in the book. The writing style didn’t quite work for me, some events seemed to lack the impact or attention I would’ve liked. Some plot points where very obvious early on to me and others I would’ve liked a bit more foreshadowing as they seem to come almost out of nowhere and I would’ve liked a bit of tension beforehand. And some of the things I thought were foreshadowing didn’t go anywhere yet. It was one of those books that did get better as it went one and I liked seeing where the story went. The events at the end do have me curious about what happens next.
The characters sometimes acted in ways that didn’t seem to fit their character or what little we knew of them. There also didn’t seem to be as much focus on them making a plan together or finding a way home. I didn’t care for how Lydia was keeping secrets from her friends as it seemed those would be the ones she would trust with these big things instead of a boy she just met.
On the topic of the characters that’s another point I had trouble with. I never really felt like I knew the characters well and understood what they wanted. Except for getting back home and even that goal seemed to fade to the background at times, which makes sense partly with what happens, but I still would’ve liked to see them talk about it more or try and figure out more.
While we got Lydia’s point of view I didn’t really feel like I understood her well. I wanted to really get what she was feeling and why she was making certain decisions. Some of her reasoning seemed strange, like the secret keeping which she even admit later on was a lame excuse. There is also a scene early on where she leaves her friends sleeping and defenseless shortly after they arrive in the other world, which just didn’t make sense to me. She seemed a kind and helpful person when she helps a boy early on, but then later we don’t see any of that behavior anymore.
There is a bit of romance and while it’s mostly a side plot, it is a continuous thing throughout the story. I didn’t really feel the romance and actually thought the love interest was shady and I kept waiting for him to show his true colors. There were some of his behaviors that seemed weird, like the way how he landed in the trap and why he was alone then and I just didn’t really like him. There is a way he tries to force Lydia to reveal something that didn’t sit right with me, but besides that he seemed like an okay guy. I just never really grew to like and didn’t really feel or understood why Lydia fell for him, except for the fact that he was charming.
I would’ve liked to see more world building. There’s this whole cool concept of another world and I had hoped to see how different that world was from their own. It starts of great with the golden forest, which was pretty cool, but besides that the world seemed too much like a medieval version of your world, but then with magic. The world just didn’t fully come alive to me and I didn’t get as much of a feel for the country, culture and world as I would’ve liked. I did like the magic and we see some pretty cool things so far and the next book will probably have even more of that. I am confused about the stone Lydia gets, is that something magic can do to create items or how does that work? It never seemed to get explained, but maybe in later books.
To summarize: I liked the set-up for this one about how four teenagers get stranded in a different world. I liked seeing where the story went and how things developed, but it failed to fully hook me. I liked the magic and the whole stranded in another world theme, but I failed to really connect and get to know the characters. I also didn’t feel the romance and thought the love interest was a bit shady, but except for one minor scene he seemed an okay guy mostly. I just didn’t feel the romance and see why Lydia fell for him. The world didn’t fully come alive, it was mostly a medieval version of our world, but then with magic. I would’ve liked to see more of the world and the culture here and how things were different here. I did like the magic and there are some cool magic things we see so far. All in all this book didn’t fully work for me, but there were parts I did like and the book got better as the story progressed.