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5 stars for The Claiming by J.A. Nielsen #yafantasy #yalit #fantasy #bookreview

Title: The Claiming

Author: J.A. Nielsen

Genre: YA Fantasy

Book Blurb:

Spense is the unfortunate younger son of Lord Ferrous, with a growing talent for the magical arts and a larger talent for finding trouble, most often in the form of botched spells. Dewy is a Fae princess who tends to disappoint her aunt, the Summer Queen, through her—ahem—carefree life choices.

A chance encounter—and another failed spell—leaves Spense bonded to Dewy and able to control her will. But it's a violation of magic. Not to mention devastating to Human-Fae relations.

To free Dewy and save Spense’s kingdom, they must journey through faerie territories—facing feral magic, treacherous wilderness, and their own distractible hearts.

My Review:

I don't read a lot of YA fantasy books, but I was intrigued when I read the blurb for THE CLAIMING. Spence is the illegitimate son of King Ferrous, who has a modicum of magic that his father encourages him to pursue. Spence tries, but more often than not, his spells go awry, and he is very hard on himself as he repeatedly disappoints his father. His older brother and heir to the Kingdom, is the exact opposite of Spence--a strong battle-hardened Knight of the Kingdom, highlights how insignificant Spence feels most of the time. Dirk taunts Spence relentlessly because of his ineptitude, and Spence does his best to say out of his brother's sight.

Everything is about to change for Spence when King Ferrous commands Spence to go and spell a bridge against enemy incursions, something that should be within Spence's abilities. Finally, he can do something right for the Kingdom or so he thinks. However, with any use of magic, something goes wrong, and instead of spelling the bridge, Spence's spell captures and binds a beautiful Fae princess to him. The binding or claiming is against all the rules of magic, and Spence is horrified at his mistake. Princess Dew Drop or Dewy is shocked and dismayed at what the human has done, but that is not the end of her troubles. She soon learns what truly terrifying means when she's banished from the fairy Summer Court. No fairy bonded to a human is welcome in the Fae kingdom.

Spence searches through all his spell books, looking for a way to undo the Claiming, but can find nothing. His delightfully flawed character tries so hard to always do the right thing but is forever making mistakes. Even his magic had apparently turned against him. It's hard not to route for him because he's so sincere in everything he tries.

The author does a fantastic job describing Fae customs and the Summer Court. I could easily envision the towering trees offering a canopy to the fairy realms as the true wonder of how the trees bend and form shapes to accommodate their fairy brethren is revealed on page after page. Dewy is a creature full of sunshine and light, dispensing much-needed water drops to thirsty plants and flowers, but she must endure more than just the pain of her banishment when she must accompany Spence back to the human castle surrounded by iron and steel. It hurts her soul, and Spence vows to do everything within his power to undo his mistake. Can Spence finally learn the proper spell to release Dewy from their bonding?

The author rounds out the cast well with another young woman, Flora, who is from the surrounding countryside outside the castle. Flora has no magic to help Dirk fight the invaders, but she has true aim with her bow and knows the surrounding countryside well. While the fighting rages, Spence and Dewy are commanded by King Ferrous to return to the Summer Court and ask for assistance fighting off the invaders, especially since not all the invaders are human. With the final addition of the Winter Fae, I could hardly read the pages fast enough to find out why the Winter King would attack King Ferrous's kingdom especially when there had been years of peace between them. The clues are sprinkled throughout the story, and I guessed that something mentioned early on in the book held significance. I assume this is the premise for book 2 in the series. Without even a pre-order page up for the next book, however, readers may be disappointed that they can not immediately continue reading about Spence and Dewy and their next quest.

My Rating: 5 stars

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Author Biography:

J.A. Nielsen is the author of the YA Fantasy, The Claiming (Fractured Kingdoms, Book 1), and winner of the 2020 Pacific Northwest Writers Association Literary Contest for Young Adult literature. She has spent most of her professional life in education—as a therapist, teacher, librarian, and administrator. When not writing, she is most likely playing with her family in the forest, on the water, or in the mountains of the Pacific Northwest.

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Reviewed by: Debra


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