Title: To the North (The Awakener Book 1)
Author: Evan L. Grove
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Emily Lee wants nothing more than to live her life in peace, safe in the comfort of home with her father. But when he falls prey to dark magic, trapping him and countless others in a foreign land, she is forced to take action. Compelled only by the desire to save him, Emily travels to the northern nation of Odelia in search of a means to free her father from his terrible curse. Lehksi Olent works as a private investigator, helping those uncover the truth that is often shrouded by a world of magic and mystery. Together with her brother, Marty, she now travels the Odelian countryside in pursuit of the growing unrest taking place within the heart of a country torn asunder by unseen forces. When their paths converge, Emily and Lehksi’s lives will be forever changed. Two paths, one future. Be it for the good of all, or for a singular desire, the fate of Odelia lies within their choices. And should they prove lacking, the world of Oul might never be the same. To the North is the first novel in The Awakener Duology, an adult urban fantasy that explores what it means to discover the dark truths of an unforgiving land. It takes place in an alternate reality set in a pre-digital world, one that is governed by magic and corporate influence. Two young women must navigate numerous challenges in order to protect what is important to them, but in doing so they will make discoveries that may drive a wedge between them.
What I love about my work as a book reviewer is I never know what opening a book will bring. My expectations never prepare me for a classic. To the North is, without a doubt, one of the top five fiction books I have ever read. From the opening paragraph til the last incredible page, this book had me in its grip. Now I will spend my days wondering, literally, what will happen in book two.
Usually, I am not a big fan of cliffhangers, but this book did it in style. The author, Evan L. Grove, has the incredible ability to make a fantasy world completely readable. I was probably 10% into the book before I noticed one of my favorite characters had animal ears. That is another amazing thing about this book: there isn't just one character to connect with and love. I have come to love Lehksi, Marty, and Emily. All three are like family to me now.
The storyline is rich and vibrant. There are levels to each subplot that won't dissuade but make the book better. I am already thinking in my mind how Marty could be portrayed in a film. To the North needs to be made into a motion picture. Fans of the books about the fabled ring will simply adore this. I recommend this to every person who wants to lose themselves in one of the best books ever written. Sweeping, exciting, suspenseful, fun, mystifying To the North has it all.
If I could, I would award as many stars as there are in the galaxy. I am held to 5++ stars but that doesn't do justice. Simply a brilliant book that has changed the way books like this will be written in the future. A fantastic book that I loved.
My Rating: 5++ stars
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Evan L. Grove lives in southern California with his wife and two cats where he works begrudgingly as a software engineer. As a long-time fan of the fantastical, he spends more time than he’d rather admit engaged with worlds beyond his own. To the North is his first novel, and he is certain he’ll write many more in the years to come.
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Reviewed by: Mr. N