Title: Dark of the West
Author: Joanna Hathaway
Publisher: Tor Teen
Genre: Young Adult/Fantasy
Pages: 480 Pages
Release Date: February 5, 2019
My Rating: ★★★.75/5
“We’ll just keep running. Just be quick enough to stay ahead. It’s what I’ll always do. Because I have you. And I fly for you.”
He was raised in revolution. She was raised in a palace. Can their love stop a war? Code Name Verity meets The Winner’s Curse in Joanna Hathaway’s Dark of the West, a breathtaking YA fantasy debut.
Aurelia Isendare is a princess of a small kingdom in the North, raised in privilege but shielded from politics as her brother prepares to step up to the throne. Halfway around the world, Athan Dakar, the youngest son of a ruthless general, is a fighter pilot longing for a life away from the front lines. When Athan’s mother is shot and killed, his father is convinced it’s the work of his old rival, the Queen of Etania—Aurelia’s mother. Determined to avenge his wife’s murder, he devises a plot to overthrow the Queen, a plot which sends Athan undercover to Etania to gain intel from her children.
Athan’s mission becomes complicated when he finds himself falling for the girl he’s been tasked with spying upon. Aurelia feels the same attraction, all the while desperately seeking to stop the war threatening to break between the Southern territory and the old Northern kingdoms that control it—a war in which Athan’s father is determined to play a role. As diplomatic ties manage to just barely hold, the two teens struggle to remain loyal to their families and each other as they learn that war is not as black and white as they’ve been raised to believe.
My Review: (100% SPOILER-FREE)
Dark of the West by Joanna Hathaway is a wonderful debut novel that will have you hooked from the very beginning. The prologue to this book is some of the best writing I’ve ever read, immediately leaving you reeling for answers as to how the characters ended up where they are. The prologue reveals a betrayal that (you think) will happen somewhere within the book, leaving you suspenseful throughout the course of the novel.
This book has absolutely wonderful writing, with a unique story and characters. Reading about the pilots and their experiences in war and while flying was so interesting! Then there is the other POV of Princess Aurelia, who is struggling to untie the secrets of her family’s monarchy and what their place truly is within the war between the North and the South. I thoroughly enjoyed both POVs and found all of the characters, even secondary ones, to be interesting and full of depth.
As you can see from the quote I’ve included, this book was very romantic and even included full length love letters that left me swooning! The romance in this book includes starcrossed lovers, which is just such a great trope in my opinion. I was constantly rooting for their love and honestly want them to end up together and happy soooooo badly!
The one problem I had with this book was the political intrigue. Don’t get me wrong, political intrigue is one of my absolute favorite elements to a story. However, Hathaway tended to drop too much information at once, leaving the politics and war details difficult to follow. This caused what were probably major plot twists and plot points to be pretty inconsequential since the background was pretty jumbled and unclear. I’m still not entirely sure what all of the elements are and I wish it had been explained more clearly.
This was a very enjoyable book and I cannot wait for the next installment! I’m very hopeful that it will be more clear, but I’m mostly excited because the ending left so many unanswered questions regarding the war and, more importantly, the relationship between Athan and Aurelia. Overall, this is an action-packed debut including political intrigue, starcrossed romance, and very good writing. 🙂
Thank you so much for reading my review! I really hope you enjoyed, and if you want to chat about this, feel free to comment! 🙂
Interested? Find the book here!