Author: A.F.E. Smith
Release date: 2 July 2015 (ebook), 14 January 2016 (paperback)
Publisher: Harper Voyager
Source: complimentary copy in exchange of an honest review.
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Ayla Nightshade never wanted to rule Darkhaven. But her half-brother Myrren – true heir to the throne – hasn’t inherited their family gift, forcing her to take his place.When this gift leads to Ayla being accused of killing her father, Myrren is the only one to believe her innocent. Does something more sinister than the power to shapeshift lie at the heart of the Nightshade family line?Now on the run, Ayla must fight to clear her name if she is ever to wear the crown she never wanted and be allowed to return to the home she has always loved.
A.F.E. Smith is an editor of academic texts by day and a fantasy writer by night. So far, she hasn’t mixed up the two. She lives with her husband and their two young children in a house that someone built to be as creaky as possible – getting to bed without waking the baby is like crossing a nightingale floor. Though she doesn’t have much spare time, she makes space for reading, mainly by not getting enough sleep (she’s powered by chocolate). Her physical bookshelves were stacked two deep long ago, so now she’s busy filling up her e-reader.
What A.F.E. stands for is a closely guarded secret, but you might get it out of her if you offer her enough snacks.
Darkhaven is a world where Changers are real and fantasy is no fiction. The Nightshade family has being the ruler forever but when the future heir hasn't inherited the gift everything falls into Ayla. However, the young woman doesn't want to take her brother's place and her father wants to punish her for that. A mysterious attack will puts the aim on her back and suddenly she is on the run and accused of murdering her father.
From then on the action never stops. We witness how different subplots intertwine to finally reunite at the burning point. The adrenaline is always pumping and whenever you feel a bit of peace (or the characters does) bumb! Another surprise blows up in your face.
This is well thought fantasy, where every element has been taken care off and nothing falls out of place. The different forms of Changers are excellently described and you can imagine each creature.
The characters are so good. Ayla is a strong, yet vulnerable girl who has to take rushed decisions. Trusting the man who allegedly killed your mother doesn’t sound easy at all. Myrren is admirable, he is loyal and honor means a lot to him. He lives by the rules and laws and he would never do any harm to others. And I have to say some quick words about Tomas and Serenna. The first was my favorite character, a man haunted by the past with a sense of duty that anyone would envy. I’m glad he got the chance to redeem himself. Serenna was a good addition and she proved to be the key to understand many events on the book.
I really enjoyed the chapters told from different perspectives. The change of character allows you to capture the big picture and get a complete idea of what's going on. The writing is excellent, I have no complaints about it because the dialogues are perfect and the rhythm is constant.
Darkhaven is a fantasy with a dark tone and a lot of mystery and suspense. There are some twists and shocking moments (I do have to say that one of them was a bit predictable but only if you are an avid reader you will notice it).
I have to say that the ending left an open door for a second book and I can’t wait to read it. I fell in love with this world and the characters living on it.