I’d like to start this review by saying this is the best self-published book I’ve read to date. I’m crazy impressed. I hope by saying this I don’t talk the book up too much, but I want to be totally honest here – I walked away from this book thinking damn, so much time, effort, and professionalism went into this book.
Maybe it’s unfair to compare this book to other self-published novels, but I’ve read a lot of indie books and being an editor it’s part of my nature while reading to notice things that could have been done a little stronger. Sometimes in indie books (and some traditionally published ones as well) I’ll notice typos or punctuation errors, or a character is inconsistent, or there’s too much exposition too soon, a plot line flats flat, etc. But I couldn’t find a single thing in this book I thought needed to be improved upon. Other readers may think differently, but from my point of view I think Megan Haskell did everything right. She did not cut any corners with this novel and she clearly made sure she put the best piece of work out there, nothing less.
Sanyare: The Last Descendent is a dark fantasy novel, book one in the Sanyare Universe series. I would say the best audience for this book is from age 16 and up. It’s not a YA book, but because the protagonist, Rie, is in a 20-30’s sort of age range (well, technically she is 75 but who’s counting) I felt like I was the perfect audience (25 year old female). The main character is female, but I think men would really enjoy this book as well.
Rie is a strong, well-written protagonist. Haskell does a great job of staying in her POV the entire time, and when things take place outside of Rie’s POV Haskell does not show us those moments, but instead gives us enough to feel like we didn’t miss anything. This is Rie’s story after all so that’s who we want to follow.
Immediately the story begins in the heat of the action. Rie arrives through a portal to the Human Realm (I take this to be Earth) to make a delivery, as she is a High Court messenger – a good job for a mere human that lives in the Upper Realm. The moment she arrives to make the delivery assassins from the Shadow Realm attack her. Part of the current law upheld by her King is that anyone who makes contact with someone from the Shadow Realm – even if she didn’t initiate contact – must be executed. She is now in a tough place because either A) she goes back home to be executed just because other beings from the Shadow Realm tried to kill her, or B) she tries to find out who made the order to kill her and why, to prove her innocence. Option B still likely means death, because by going to the Shadow Realm she is breaking the law. So Rie is screwed. And this all happens in the first few pages of the book, which is awesome. THIS is how a story should begin. Action, goal, conflict. Now we know Rie’s goal (staying alive) and the clear conflicts that will stand in her way (death, or getting caught, and then death).
She does decide option B (well, duh, may as well put up a fight before being executed) and the journey she takes as she tries to provide her innocence and the beings she meets along the way is really entertaining. In Rie’s world she has tiny pixie friends who hide in her hair and clothes and help her when she is in danger – they are adorable, witty, devious, and fierce – then there are High Elves and Dark Elves, Sidhe (which are basically vampires), gremlins, trolls, and much more. Haskell does such a great job at just placing us in the midst of the action and this world without taking the time to explain where we are, and how it came to be, and what this world is and what all these creatures are. We don’t need the explanation –readers are smart – and Haskell is great at including the small details to quickly pull us in and make us feel like this is suddenly our world too and so it makes perfect sense to us.
Every character is well developed in this book. The interactions between different characters is interesting and meaningful – each conversation adds to the story – the tension is palpable, the pixies are interesting as heck…it’s just a very tight well-written manuscript with strong characters and a forward moving plot. There is action of course, and some of it can get a little gruesome, but it’s there because it needs to be.
Rie not only takes this journey to prove her innocence and find out why she’s been targeted, but she also learns more and more about herself as time goes on. She begins this story by seeing herself as a mere human who is lucky to be in the position she is, but technically she is basically a servant to the king. She believes she is unimportant and replaceable. As the book goes on Rie discovers new talents and magic awakening within her, but that must mean she is more than just human, which she has trouble believing. She doesn’t actually know who her real parents are. By the end of the story Rie learns a lot about whom she is, what she can do, and her importance in this world. We get to witness her confidence build throughout the novel and that is a fun journey to take with her, on top of the literal journey/adventure she takes in the Shadow Realm and more. Oh and hey, there’s some romantic stuff in here too, so that’s awesome.
I highly recommend this book. Fantasy, Action, Magic, Sexy Elves, Sexy Vamps – it really has it all. If you love fantasy, you’ll enjoy this!
I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
Sanyare: The Last Descendent will be released February 16, 2015. Pre-order your Kindle copy now, only $2.99!
And if you want to get a sneak peek into Haskell’s writing brilliance, check out this FREE short story prequel: Pixie Tamer.
Megan Haskell is a stay-at-home-mom and writer. Everything else is optional. As a child with a voracious reading appetite, her mother was forced to take away her books or never see the dishes done. She began writing her own stories when she needed a creative outlet from her number crunching corporate career. She now lives in Southern California with her incredibly supportive husband, precocious three-year-old daughter, daughter #2 due April 2015, and a ridiculously energetic dog. You can find her at www.meganhaskell.com, as well as on Facebook, Google+,Twitter, and Pinterest.
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