My rating: ★★★★☆ (4.5/5)
Summary from Goodreads:
Briana is a Hunter, or at least she used to be, and she carries a secret—a powerful, one-of-a-kind stone that makes her invincible.
When a ruthless and sinister Empire discovers her secret, they steal the stone away from her. This stone in the wrong hands could be the demise of Briana’s world as she knows it and the rise of a much darker future.
Briana will stop at nothing to get back what belongs to her, and along the way she will meet friends, enemies, and discover a truth she never knew existed.
First of all, I want to personally thank the author, Jessica Storin, for the signed copy of The Paladin! So far, it is the only signed book that I own and I’m glad it’s from such a sweet and brilliant author.
I had been excited to follow Briana along through her journey as soon as my copy of the book came in the mail. I’m not usually one to read YA fantasy novels, but I am always for supporting aspiring authors and will jump at every opportunity to read a debut novel! Luckily enough, the premise for The Paladin was one that actually intrigued me.
Everything about this book went smoothly. From the plotline, to the setting, to the very characters involved. I found that it was super easy to keep reading through because the book was constantly moving forward. Although we do get some dream sequences from Briana and little flashback scenes of her past. Nonetheless, the plot (and the characters, quite literally) moved right on forward.
What I enjoyed the most about this is the different variety of creatures that we get to meet and learn a little bit about! There were big ones, small ones, friendly ones, mean ones, etcetera! Even some of the places that Briana and her friends encounter along the way were unique (The Weeping Woods and The Mourning Lake were my favourite!). I very much loved the magical elements that the author carefully crafted. I could tell that they were carefully thought out. I think it added a lot of beauty to the reading experience and some parts even made me smile (particularly the part about Sprites. But I’m not going to say much in fear of spoilers!). I can’t forget the unique tribes also, and the tribe’s respective abilities! I know some may say it’s a cliche (i.e. Hunger Games, Divergent, etc), but like I said, I don’t read much YA fantasy. So personally, it didn’t bother me. I quite enjoyed it, actually. It was cool learning about the customs of some of the different tribes and their history and what each of them are capable of.
The characters as well, although mystical creatures, seemed very real in the sense that they each had their own strengths and weaknesses. None of them were perfect and each one of them were flawed in one way or another. This made it easy to emotionally connect with the characters and I thought Jessica did a thorough job in executing this.
Now for some minor constructive criticism, though… I honestly felt that some of the sentences were run-on sentences and a bit redundant. I think some sentences could have been removed and the plot line would have been just fine. I also caught some spelling mistakes and misplaced words here and there. For example: “He killed had her mother” instead of “He had killed her mother.” These mistakes are obviously minor and could have easily been fixed so I wasn’t too bothered. But again, I don’t think these mistakes necessarily took away from the story. So in the end, I was able to overlook them.
Overall, for a debut novel, I think The Paladin absolutely delivered. It had enough tension in each chapter to keep you wanting to read on to the next. One particular thing I’m personally really thankful for, though, is that there wasn’t any insta-love involved. I appreciated that the focus of the book was Briana and her journey to retrieve her stone necklace. I have read countless books that failed to impress me simply because the author felt it necessary to throw romance where it didn’t need it. So, thank you, Jessica. For keeping Briana a genuine heroine without feeling the need that she must have a romantic partner to continue on with her journey.
If you’re a YA fantasy junkie or just a YA novel lover in general, then please do give The Paladin your time. You can even read the first chapter for free! Just visit the author’s instagram (here) and click the link in her bio! Again, thank you Jessica for this signed copy. I will definitely treasure it. After all, it’s the very first signed book I own.