*I received a free ARC of this book. The decision to review and my opinions are my own.*
Blurb: Though Fale has never discovered who murdered her parents and left her orphaned as a child, she attempts to lead a normal and peaceful life. After all, she is training to be a peacekeeping warrior under the direction of her adoptive father. But, when she starts having strange visions that predict the future on her 18th birthday, it turns her life into anything but ordinary. Alongside her best friends and the man who rejected her three years ago, Fale must discover the truths of her past to achieve her true destiny.
Can she harness her inner warrior to save her people? And can she prove that she is no longer an innocent child to the man she loves along the way?
This book is labelled as Young Adult fantasy, but I felt the characters and plot matured into adulthood as the story progressed. From starting off with schoolyard gossip about boys and lessons, the protaganist soon finds herself running, hiding and fighting for her life in some very adult situations.
There is a large romance element to the plot, with a traditional love triangle causing internal conflict to rival the external ‘lost magical princess’ tension. As usual, most of the romantic strife is down to lack of communication between the relevant characters, but here there are also some legitimate concerns related to the paths their lives must take, which creates a more adult and authentic relationship trial.
The secondary characters are interesting, in that every single one of them has plausible motive and opportunity to betray our protaganist, so the reader is constantly left second guessing the support network, even as Fale must rely on them. Fale herself is an excellent main character, with natural flaws and strengths, and a genuine ability to rescue herself from tricky situations via mental and physical prowess, which had me rejoicing!
There were some odd moments amongst her journey to independent womanhood, where she expressed desires to be ‘owned’ by Nelson and then Koren, which sat strangely with the freedom motifs expressed by and through Koren, Effailya’s Garrith subjects, and even Fale herself in their various oppressions by the aptly named Control. I actually found this apparent dichotomy quite true to life, as it is unsurprising for Fale to long to belong with her history of loss, even as she fights for control of her own life as she works toward adulthood.
The plot is superb. In summary it sounds like your standard YA fantasy plot: lost princess finds magic and has to save her people from an evil wizard against huge odds. However it is the detail that differentiates, and in this case the detail is exciting, chilling and fascinating. The magic factions are distinct; the setting a mixture of Hunger-Games-esque districts; and the idea of what happens to dissenters actually kept me up at night afterwards.
I am very excited for the rest of this series and hope Fale manages to resolve her love life relatively swiftly so that we can enjoy their great partnership tackling their corrupt, powerful enemy and saving the world!
Rowdies stood, cocking their heads in interest, shifting their weight from foot to foot like skittish wild animals. Fale felt a familiar tingling down her arms and body. This time, pictures flashed through her mind. Vivid scenes of blood and danger, telling a story, played in her head and she knew what she needed to do.
– Jennifer Haskin, The Key of F
The Key of F is scheduled for release on 8th May 2018.