Monday, January 30, 2023

#Review - Lightlark by Alex Aster #Fantasy #YA

Series: The Lightlark Saga # 1
Format: Hardcover, 384 pages
Release Date: August 23, 2022
Publisher: Harry N. Abrams
Source: Library
Genre: Young Adult / Dark Fantasy

Welcome to the Centennial.

Every 100 years, the island of Lightlark appears to host the Centennial, a deadly game that only the rulers of six realms are invited to play. The invitation is a summons—a call to embrace victory and ruin, baubles and blood. The Centennial offers the six rulers one final chance to break the curses that have plagued their realms for centuries. Each ruler has something to hide. Each realm’s curse is uniquely wicked. To destroy the curses, one ruler must die.

Isla Crown is the young ruler of Wildling—a realm of temptresses cursed to kill anyone they fall in love with. They are feared and despised, and are counting on Isla to end their suffering by succeeding at the Centennial.

To survive, Isla must lie, cheat, and betray…even as love complicates everything.

Lightlark is the first installment in author Alex Aster's The Lightlark Saga. 500 years ago, curses were placed on the six realms - Wildling, Starling, Moonling, Skyling, Sunling, and Nightshade - limiting their powers and blighting each realm in specific and horrifying ways. Every 100 years, a Centennial takes place on the Island of Lightlark where each of the 6 leaders of each realm is given the chance to break the curse. The catch? A prophecy states that a rulers line must come to an end in order for the curses to break.   

Isla Crown is the leader of the Wildings. She will face off against Azul of the Skyling, Cleo of the Moonling, Celeste of the Starling, Grimshaw of the Nightshade, and Oro, the King of the Lightlark who has been around since the beginning. Relationships blur and hearts are tested as each ruler fights for the survival of not only themselves, but their peoples as well. This year, unknown to the other contestants, Isla and Celeste have made a bargain to work together to find an artifact called the Bondbreaker that may break the curse. 

The first 50 something percent of the book covers the first 50 days of the Centennial, and there are so many scenes of the characters just showing off. That's kind of the point of some trials, but during them nothing truly important happens. Then the 3 teams are brought together and a bit of a surprise, Isla is teamed up with Oro to find something of significance while her friend Celeste teams up with another. This search for an artifact lasts a long time. In between, Isla seems to be infatuated with Grim of Nightshade, and then there's Cleo who seems to want to kill her every chance she gets.

Isla isn't a kick ass take names character. She was sheltered by people who raised her. She has no powers like her people which makes her vulnerable to other rulers who know that one of them must die in order for the curse to be stopped. There are two characters Azul and Cleo who spend 90% off page and have nothing to give to the story. As the trial chugs to its conclusion, there's a betrayal, as well as a I did not see that coming romantic interlude that kind of came out of nowhere. 

In some ways, this book could be considered a standalone except for the fact that one of the 6 seems to have an agenda, and that agenda apparently calls for a sequel. The author has also posted that this book is apparently going to be written for a movie by those who made the Twilight movies. We shall see. 

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