Review: Black Dawn by Mallory McCartney

Black Dawn by Mallory McCartney Book Review blog header

Published: February 14th, 2017 by Clean Reads Publishing | Series: Book 1 in Black Dawn series | Length: 180 pages | Genre: YA fantasy | Source: I received a copy to review from Xpresso Book Tours. | Possible Triggers: violence

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Summary from Goodreads:

The end of an Empire, The rise of a Queen

Emory Fae enjoys leading a quiet, normal life. That is until two mysterious, and handsome soldiers show up at her apartment, and the life she knew is instantly whisked away. Memphis Carter and Brokk Foster come from the magical and war ridden world of Kiero, and upon Emory’s arrival she will discover she is the long lost heir to the Royal Line and is thrown into the Black Dawn Rebellion with a dynamic role to ignite the rebels and reclaim her throne.

With both men being darkly woven in her past Emory uncovers hidden secrets, a power held long dormant, and will soon realize there are worse things than supernatural humans, love, loss, betrayal, and a Mad King.

Some things are better left in the shadows.

I remember when I first heard about this book several months ago, I thought it sounded awesome. I still read that blurb and think it sounds awesome. Unfortunately, the book didn’t live up to the expectations I had for it. I was expecting an engrossing story about a lost princess returning and kicking ass, but instead got a story that was, quite frankly, boring.

The best way to explain why I didn’t like this book is simply that it failed to capture my attention and interest. Right from the first chapter, I had a hard time getting into the story. This was for two main reasons: there isn’t a lot of action and the reader is thrown into a world that isn’t well-developed.

It took a very, very long time for me to feel as if anything was actually happening in Black Dawn. Sure, in the first couple of chapters, Emory is brought back to the world in which the story takes place. That was kind of exciting. But then the story drags on and on and on. It wasn’t until after the 75% mark that enough was happening to actually have me interested. 75%. That’s way too far into the book. I might have been more forgiving of this if the characters were interesting enough to keep me intrigued, but I never felt any real connection to any of the characters and ultimately, I felt downright bored. Reading through the bulk of Black Dawn felt like a chore which is never a good sign.

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Let me back up a minute and talk about the characters. There are several different characters who have at least one point of view chapter: Emory, Adair, Memphis, Nyx, and Brokk. I think those are all of them. And that right there tells you one of the things you need to know: I can’t separate the different characters – they all bleed together. I almost never have a hard time keeping different POVs separated, but Black Dawn worked hard to be an exception. Their voices were practically identical and I just couldn’t keep track of who was who. I’d be halfway through a chapter and forget who I was reading about. This made it difficult for me to ever feel invested in their story because I couldn’t even remember whose story I was reading!

Like I mentioned before, the world-building in Black Dawn was seriously lacking. Usually, if you have the “lost princess” trope or something similar, the reader gets to be acquainted with the world as the main character becomes (re-)familiarized with it. However, Emory doesn’t really need to be re-introduced to Kiero because in the first couple of chapters, she suddenly regains her memories that she had been stripped of. And with her memories regained, the reader is left on their own to piece together the different aspects of the setting. There’s a war going on and people are constantly suffering and yet after finishing the book, I’m still not really sure what the reason behind the war was. Something about people with powers? I don’t know. I really wish more attention had been given to world-building because that alone probably would’ve made the book much more enjoyable.

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The only reason I’m giving this 1.5 stars instead of 1 is because the last few pages finally had me really captivated and I’m interested enough that I may pick up the next book. I say “may” because if the second book proves to be too similar to this one, I’m not sure I’d make it all the way through. Truthfully, I’m not sure I’d bother to spend the time on starting it.

I feel bad because I think this review is coming off pretty harsh and I’m not usually so critical, but I can’t help it in this case. Black Dawn has a lot of room for improvement and I’m hoping that some of those improvements are made in the second book because this series has a lot of potential. It wasn’t a completely horrible book, but the problems I had with it were just so overwhelming that it was hard for me to see any real positives. If the blurb interests you though, perhaps give the book a shot anyway. I’ve seen quite a few people who really enjoyed it and it’s a relatively short read, so even if you don’t like it, it shouldn’t take too long to get through. Maybe it’ll be worth the chance for you!

Thank you to Xpresso Book Tours for providing me with a copy of the book in exchange for an honest review.


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