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"Depth of Lies" by E. C. Diskin
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The King family grew wealthy when their plantation’s harvests far exceeded their neighbors’. But something happened to end the mutually beneficial arrangement between the Kings and their dryad neighbors, sending a curse upon the land and into the family.
The current heir to the King land is Branson, a self-centered, irresponsible party-boy whose past is riddled with sorrow and sin. His most recent binge leads to an accident that destroys the tree housing a powerful dryad spirit. Tradition now requires Aurianna, the shunned granddaughter, to make an oath to avenge her grandmother’s murder by killing Branson. But before she knows who the killer is, Aurianna finds wounded Branson and tends to him, creating an inner conflict that threatens to destroy her world and his.
A powerful attraction draws Branson and Aurianna to one another, and down a destructive path for both, but there is one voice Branson listens to above his own libido--that of Abraham--the aged family friend/handyman whose own life and land seem mysteriously blessed. Abraham understands both worlds, and he opens Aurianna's and Branson's understanding of the forces at work in their lives, understanding that helps them to see the choices before them, and to accept the consequences of those decisions.
Brandon Gray delivers a powerful story while raising thought-provoking questions that challenge main character Branson’s do-what-you-want choices and values. The topics are hard-hitting at times, and though Gray handles them with respect and care, this is not an MG read.
For this reason, Brandon Gray, aka Braden Bell, wrote Orison, his first YA novel, under a pen name to make that distinction with his faithful readers. The much beloved author of the MG series, Middle School Magic, has been heralded for writing books that reflect and speak to his target audience. It is not by accident or merely good marketing. Bell/Gray—teacher, director, father, PhD—loves young people, and he continues to write books that make them think.
Orison’s measured beginning builds to a page-turning sprint as the dryad and human story lines converge. This reviewer could not foresee the final twists, and was extremely pleased to see that Orison is book one of a series.
I was thoroughly engrossed by this unique, powerful book, and recommend Orison, and all Gray/Bell’s books, to thoughtful readers who love beautiful writing. In fact, Bell’s books are my go-to gifts for my own grandchildren, and Orison’s powerful themes add another volume to his masterful collection.
If you have middle school-aged youth, get them Bell’s brilliant Middle School Magic series, but Orison will entertain and provoke thought in readers from savvy teens to adults. It's available on Kindle.
Gray does a nice job setting up the conflict between Aurianna and Branson, and the backhistory of Aurianna's mother was absolutely brilliant. That mystery pulled me through every scene, and every page. We got information at precisely the right moments -- which is a sign of a master storyteller. Very excited to read more from Brandon Gray!
I love when a fantasy novelist can build scenes so real you can feel, smell, and taste as well as see and hear everything. This novel covers all the senses. I also love a novel that leaves no loose ends--happily, everything was tied together well, with enough intrigue left for book two to make me say , "When is it coming out??" Bravo, Brandon Gray!
Shunned by the other dryads, Aurianna lives unloved and alone. When a beautiful human named Branson King crashes into a tree and kills her grandmother, the dryads force Aurianna to take an oath that she will find and kill Branson—or die herself. But instead of finding a hardened human heart, Aurianna discovers friendship, affection, and sparks of passion—along with a deadly secret. As her relationship with Branson grows, Aurianna is confronted with a harsh reality: in order to live, she must kill the only person that might ever love her.
This was really an interesting book. At first, I didn't like Branson much. He was looking for trouble and took nothing serious. Not surprisingly, he was dealing (though not very well) with some pretty heavy issues. His change is rather significant by the end of the story though, and I liked him quite a bit.
Aurianna, with her naiveté, was actually rather funny. Her introduction into the human world and the things that she said made me laugh a few times. And she had a wonderful heart. She'd go to help anyone who was hurting. Even someone who'd just killed her grandmother's tree.
The book is obviously the first in a series. The main issue with Aurianna's blood oath is resolved in this book, but Branson commits to something toward the end that cannot be good. In fact, it's rather one of those "he's too stupid to live" moments. Ah, to be 17 again and in love.
4 1/2 out of 5 stars, rounded up.
Most recent customer reviews
Author: Brandon Gray
Genre: YA Romance, Fantasy
Thoughts: I enjoyed reading this.Read more
Aurianna lives shunned and alone. When human named Branson King crashes into a tree and kills her grandmother, the dryads force Aurianna to take an oath that...Read more