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The Darkening of Deacon (Tree of Life Series, Book #1) Kindle Edition
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What I wanted to talk about first was the characters and the rest of my review will probably pale in comparison with this section of discussion. Elita once mentioned that her characters would not leave her alone even while she slept, they whispered inner dialogue in her ear and I cannot blame her, for the characters she creates are intensely realistic, self-aware creatures. The main character, Deacon is, at his core, a good person but he is filled with hatred and other dark emotions, this is portrayed so strongly that at times during the story we're not sure whether he's the hero or villain. He is a singularly determined, stubborn and at times, indecisive character with such pride that it becomes his downfall more than once; both physically and emotionally. Deacon is a unique protagonist in that he is so often his own greatest enemy that we nearly forget what greater purpose he is hellbent on.
The book begins with Deacon as a child, he is quiet and intensely introverted to the point of strangeness, this remains a constant throughout the story and many people are able to detect something strange about him on first glance. While some may be put off by the illusion of "not much going on", there is, in fact a lot going on in the story at any one time when you think of the characters as people.
Elita writes in a style that stirs emotions within people, especially those that have lived with mental illness and can empathise strongly with the characters. I, as a fairly unemotional person found myself almost in tears at several points in the book.
I wanted this review to be special, but I really can't find the words to be erudite right now, so I'll shamelessly plug this book. It's awesome, go buy it if you haven't already.
Another issue I had with the story is that if I can't understand or identify with the characters, I find it difficult to stay interested. I'm sure the author meant to portray Deacon as conflicted, but all I saw was that he was cruel, angry, bitter, and pretty much just like his father. Each time he had an opportunity to improve his circumstances, he had a bad attitude and made the worst choices and was cruel to everyone in the process. I couldn't stand the character so the story was hard to stick with.
My final issue with the story was the transitioning. It seemed like the plot and timeline jumped all over the place. There was no good explanation for why Deacon's father instantly turned mean after being a loving father and husband. One letter could not have made that big of a difference. There was very little transition between the plot of Deacon's mother and Deacon, and sub plots involving Cade and Brielle popped in and out of the story without much rhyme or reason. And I didn't understand how everyone was so horrified by the idea of Deacon's revenge when they didn't have problems with violence and killing along their trip. Overall there were just too many plot holes and I was irritated every time yet another one popped up.
I will not be reading the next book.
This is Deacon--the protagonist in Elita Daniels' debut fantasy novel, Tree of Life Part One. Abducted and scarred by his cruel and power-hungry father as a child, Deacon's mother risked life and limb to save him from the cruel fate his father planned for him. The bond between mother and son becomes even stronger as they survive the terrifying ordeal, but when Deacon's mother falls in love with the elven man who helps her save her son, her frail, human mortality is only enhanced by the everlasting elven world they live in.
Both set free and ensnared by his mother's death, Deacon embarks on a quest to avenge her and punish his wicked father. Accompanied by his cousins, despite his pleas for solitude, Deacon, Cedrik and Derek find themselves caught up in a strange plot involving a beautiful young priestess-in-training named Magenta. Despite his unwillingness to let himself fall in love, Deacon is enamored with Magenta, and discovers that sharing his vengeance with her is both liberating and dangerous.
There is something about Deacon's inner turmoil that appeals to the soul. As a reader I found myself frustrated and enamored with his struggle to love and be loved. A struggle that continually leaves him feeling empty and enraged, this presents a powerful lesson about the dangers of self-loathing.
For a debut novel from a first-time author, Daniels captures the otherworldly essence often found in works by master storytellers like Tolkien. Tree of Life is both character and plot driven, urging readers to embrace the struggling enigma that is Deacon in hopes that he can be saved--more than anything from himself.
Overall, I give Tree of Life Part One 4 out of 5 stars, and recommend it to fantasy lovers who relish in conflicted characters on a quest to quell their vengeance and discover who they really are at heart. I'm anxiously awaiting the second installment, as Daniels split the novel at the perfect cliffhanger.
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