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Secrets Kept (The Hidden Dagger Book 1) Kindle Edition
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|Length: 428 pages||Word Wise: Enabled||Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled|
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Ayianna is a half-elven girl on the cusp of womanhood with dreams far above her station in life - wishing to sail on an elven ship and study the stars, impossible because she is not fully elven and because she is a woman. However, when her family moves away from the Elven city of Zurial and her father betroths her to Desmond, a handsome, human merchant who also has dreams above his position in life, it seems that Ayianna's dreams have come to an end.
However, when her father is murdered in the forest before Ayianna's eyes and he gives her a dagger and a cryptic message, Ayianna is unsure of how to proceed. When she discovers that her mother has disappeared and her brother has also been killed, she joins forces with an enigmatic and bitter young half-elf named Kael. Together they will travel with Desmond and his friend, Prince Vian as they search for answers as to why Ayianna's father was killed. Along the way they will discover that something much deeper and more dangerous is in the wind.
It took two pages for this story to grab me and hold me spellbound. The writing style is beautiful and the characters step right off the pages and into your room. It is almost more like watching a theatrical play than reading a story. The descriptions made me feel like I was right there in the story, battling my way through dark forests and crossing parched deserts. I was rooting for Ayianna to realize her dreams.... and maybe grow a bit of a spine, but she can't be faulted for not being great at wilderness exploration when she's never done it before... I think that's what I liked most about the story, that Ayianna is probably a pretty good depiction of how I would fare if I were thrust into an unanticipated adventure.
The pacing is very good, lots of excitement and adventure to keep your heart pounding as you read. There were a few places where I felt that the dialogue was a bit "off" - I'm not sure how to explain it... whenever a magical creature appeared, the way they spoke just didn't feel "right" to me, like their voice wasn't quite fleshed out. However, that only happens twice, and didn't impact my enjoyment of the story.
I really loved this book and cannot wait to find out what happens to all of these characters. Thankfully, Darkened Hope is now available, so I can continue the adventure!
The book is told from a few points of view. The main character is a bit too confused in my opinion and the reasons for primary characters actions are not always clear. Some reasons are elucidated as the novel continues but did not always seem in character to me, but that could just be because the characters are not yet entirely fleshed out.
I have not read any of the short novels that I think preclude this novel. Maybe those stories would be useful to read first.
Don't forget to read The Tales of Nalu too. They will help you grasp a little history & build up the story nicely!
I enjoyed Secrets Kept. Ayianna and her friends traveled all over their fantasy world called Nalu, encountering new nations and strange creatures. Some of those creatures I found rather new to the fantasy world, such as childlike monsters that dissolve into dust when killed or an evil harpy lord who preys on virgin girls. I enjoyed the adventure of the novel. The secrets that nearly every character hid and the lies they used to cover up those lies made the book intriguing. There were also scores of unanswered questions hanging over the characters’ heads throughout the tale whose answers might make all the difference. And, the ending made me want to scream “NOOO!” and left me longing for the second book.
However, I found that there were too many unanswered questions. Every good book needs such questions to pull the reader in, but Secrets Kept had questions that needed answers, such as what exactly a word means or how one race survived the massacre without its ruler (the supposed only survivor) at least knowing anything. I also found it hard to keep track of all the gods and keep them separate in my mind from the main Shadow God, who had many different names.
Despite this, Secrets Kept was an intriguing book left begging for a second book!
Things you should know: There were many spells cast by the evil characters. The sorceress was known for sexual immorality and at least one closed door scene was implied. There was also a somewhat graphic description of a massacre, and numerous battles between the protagonists and antagonists.
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