3 out of 4 stars
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“Love is the only power out there that trumps hatred, grief, sadness, or anger...”
Once upon a time, four babies were born on the same night. They never cried, and their eyes would change colour depending on their moods. These were the Spirits of the Seasons. Working together in harmony, they blessed the planet, keeping it in balance. Each spirit chose a kingdom in which to settle, and that kingdom then fell under their protection. Brikkir, the Spirit of Winter, settled in the Kingdom of Hale. While the Spirits of the Seasons are eternal, when needed they take a human as their vessel – a human destined for greatness.
When Princess Katja’s baby sister, Amara, is born and the king witnesses her eyes change from dark brown to sapphire blue, it is clear that the spirit of Brikkir resides within her.
As she grows, young Amara suffers from terrible fits of rage, during which her eyes turn bright blue, and she unleashes her powers on whomever she deems to have wronged her. She must learn to control her powers before they control her.
Some twenty-two years later, Katja awakes in a forest, alone and confused. With no memory of her past life or how she has come to be there, she must begin a journey of self-discovery like no other and confront Queen Amara to stop her reign of terror once and for all.
In Awakening, Tayma Tameem shows immense skill in the descriptive passages she weaves. The world that she has created is believable and immediately draws the reader in. Each character is well developed and relatable, except perhaps Queen Ester, who appeared rather two-dimensional and cold. However, she played only a minor role, so this did not diminish the story in any way.
While the story is told from the past tense third-person perspective, the chapters cleverly alternate between time periods. Each odd-numbered chapter was set in the “present time” while every even-numbered chapter took place a number of years in the past. Each past time chapter is perfectly placed, giving the reader just a little more insight into what took place in the past that could have led to where Katja finds herself in the present. Additionally, each subsequent past chapter is set closer and closer to the present time. This adds to the growing momentum of the story as the reader is swept along with the characters.
Besides the captivating storyline, there are so many important themes covered in this book. These include the importance of family and a healthy support structure; the fact that strength without control is dangerous; the corrupting pull of power; the self-destructive road of vengeance; and the power of love.
My favourite aspect of the story was the unbreakable bond between the sisters, Katja and Amara. Although Amara was the one blessed by Brikkir, Katja was never jealous or afraid of her like so many others were. Katja seemed to be the only one who truly understood Amara, while Amara completely trusted Katja. The chapters set in the past were my favourite sections to read as this was where the bond was most prominent.
I could find nothing that would prevent me from recommending this book; however, a few minor adjustments would make it an even better read. I enjoyed the alternating chapters, but setting the final chapter in the past caused the reader to feel left behind. It seemed slightly odd that the story did not end having “caught up” to the present time. This was my least favourite feature.
Due to the nature of the grammatical errors found, I would say that this book was not professionally edited. However, while at times it felt as though the book could have been translated to English from another language, the story was so gripping that the errors were not entirely distracting.
I would recommend this book to all fantasy fans interested in a riveting, yet effortless read. There are, however, some mature themes, such as vengeance, and some scenes in which Amara uses her powers which may be too graphic for sensitive readers.
I thoroughly enjoyed this book and would gladly give it full marks. However, due to the number of errors, I am forced to remove one star. I thus award Awakening by Tayma Tameem 3 out of 4 stars. While I was still patting myself on the back for seeing the big twist ending coming, the author threw in yet another twist in the final few pages that no one could have predicted. This, coupled with the cliff-hanger ending, leaves me hoping the sequel will follow soon.
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