Gr 9 Up—War is brewing between the North and the South as General Dakar slowly overthrows small nations. Aurelia, a princess in a small Northern nation, desperately wants to attend university and does not wish to get married to create alliances. While she studies hard and mourns the death of her father, the king, Aurelia's brother and mother strategize to keep their kingdom safe from the rebels and the ambitious general. Athan, the third son of General Dakar, has no desire to fight in the never-ending war and would rather be free to fly planes, but when his father forces him to make nice with Princess Aurelia to spy on the North, Athan finds himself in the middle of the conflict. This fantasy opens near the end of the war, where readers follow the budding relationship of the defiant Aurelia and strong soldier Dakar. The remaining story is told through flashbacks of how Aurelia and Athan met, fell in love, and were torn apart. Teens will learn a little bit about the fate of other characters and are introduced to the antagonist in the opening chapter, which provides intrigue and foreshadowing. Although there are some unique plot twists and fighter plane action, familiar character arcs and fantasy-world conflicts are on display here. VERDICT Recommended for large collections where war strategy and combat-filled fantasy are popular.—Dawn Abron, Zion-Benton Public Library, IL
Fantasy without magic, historical fiction without facts: Hathaway's debut defies classification.
In a fantasy world featuring early-20th century technology, royals descended from one common ancestor rule the North—except for a new nation under the dictatorship of Gen. Dakar—while the South descends into chaos. This world includes military women and brown-skinned royals, although both remain exceptions. White Athan, the general's youngest son, is a reluctant military pilot; he just wants to run away and fly his beloved planes in peace. Biracial, brown-skinned Aurelia is a Northern princess with a Southern mother who loves horses, dreams of a university education, and believes she is superior for being royal. When the two finally meet as part of a fact-finding mission, sparks fly, although the prologue warns that their Romeo and Juliet-style romance is probably doomed. The politics are subtle and complex, even if the characters sometimes are not, and everyone lies, leaving readers confused. This is a novel about ambition and war, occasionally drowning in details, and much of this series opener sets up the world, with the bulk of the action crammed into the final chapters. Grief and the horrors of war loom larger than the romance, although the love letters are swoon-y.
Those who stick around for this slow ride will be left eager to know how events play out. (map) (Fantasy. 13-adult)
In this reimagining of Europe’s world wars, Joanna Hathaway delivers a novel of court intrigue and action-packed military adventure. Heart-pounding . . . will leave the reader wanting more.”
Melissa de la Cruz, #1 New York Times bestselling author
“The kind of book you can sink your teeth into, full of rich worldbuilding, complex characters, and intricate plots with a healthy dose of backstabbing. . . . Fans of high stakes political intrigue will love Dark of the West. I can't wait to read the sequel.”
Evelyn Skye, New York Times bestselling author of The Crown’s Game
“This soaring, gorgeously written, high-stakes adventure stole my breath from the very first page. Dark of the West’s forbidden romance unfolds with devastating beauty against the backdrop of an incipient world war.”
Margaret Rogerson, New York Times bestselling author of An Enchantment of Ravens
“Airplane battles, revolutions, palace intrigue, star-crossed love, feuds spanning generations. This story’s scope is ambitious, a world unto itself, yet Hathaway wields the narrative with powerful precision. Dark of the West is a debut to be reckoned with.”
Ryan Graudin, author of the Wolf By Wolf duology
"Captivating . . . The prose is elegant, the characters intricate, and the worldbuilding enrapturing."
Charlie N. Holmberg, Wall Street Journal bestselling author of the Paper Magician series
“Smart, stunning, and completely swoonworthy, Dark of the West swept me off my feet. Fans of forbidden love, high stakes, and intriguedon’t miss this triumph of a book!”
Sarah Glenn Marsh, author of the Reign of the Fallen series
“Beautiful and bittersweet, Dark of the West is a stunning must-read. Dangerous politics, a looming war, star-crossed lovers and secrets held closethe story builds in careful strokes to a crescendo that will keep you riveted until the last page.”
Hafsah Faizal, author of the forthcoming We Hunt The Flame
“With elements of epic fantasy, military and political intrigue, and ill-fated romantic attraction, this novel is packed with world building details. The romantic attraction between Athan and Aurelia has the feeling of Romeo and Juliet, leaving readers hoping for the best but fearing the worst.”
Voya, Stacey Hayman