Amber & Dusk

(Amber & Dusk #1, By: Lyra Selene)

SUMMARY:

Sylvie has always known she deserves more. Out in the permanent twilight of the Dusklands, her guardians called her power to create illusions a curse. But Sylvie knows it gives her a place in Coeur d'Or, the palais of the Amber Empress and her highborn legacies.

So Sylvie sets off toward the Amber City, a glittering jewel under a sun that never sets, to take what is hers.

But her hope for a better life is quickly dimmed. The empress invites her in only as part of a wicked wager among her powerful courtiers. Sylvie must assume a new name, Mirage, and begin to navigate secretive social circles and deadly games of intrigue in order to claim her spot. Soon it becomes apparent that nothing is as it appears and no one, including her cruel yet captivating sponsor, Sunder, will answer her questions. As Mirage strives to assume what should be her rightful place, she'll have to consider whether it is worth the price she must pay.

Published November 27th 2018 by Scholastic Press*

REVIEW:

I gave this book 3.5 stars. The story was gripping from early on, with an extremely promising plot filled with magic. The romantic tension and villain building were on point, and ultimately allowed me to overlook aspects of the world that didn’t fully live up to its potential.

From the start, Sylvie was a firecracker of a main character. She was stubborn and entitled and at times I honestly struggled to like her. However, it was these faults and the mistakes that she made that kept me rooting for her - because she really did feel real. Oddly enough, my favorite character in this book wasn’t the MC. Instead, I lived for the villains (really the entire Coeur d’Or). Sunder in particular was this cruel, mysterious and rich a**hole (for lack of a better term), but there was just enough underlying his character that constantly made me wonder if he was truly evil or not (think Rhysand vibes from ACOTAR). I hated him, but I also hated to love him. The relationships were all I look for in a YA fantasy - a touch of forbidden love, deep friendship, and characters who shift and change in their relationships as all of us do in real life.

Lyra’s writing was beautiful and I enjoyed getting lost in her prose. She really brought scenes to life and perfectly captured the eerie air and grandeur of the palais and all that came with it. The plot pacing kept me intrigued, but at times I wanted it to slow down so we could spend a bit more time in certain relationships, as well as developing the overall suspense and consequences of living in this world.

My biggest struggle was with the follow through of the world building. While the world itself was built upon an intriguing myth (living in a place where the sun never sets) - I wanted this myth to play a more significant role towards the end of the plot. Once in the Amber City, the myth seemed to stop driving the story. The court could have been plucked out of this world and located almost anywhere and it wouldn’t have changed the trajectory by that much. Additionally, the world was heavily built upon three metal ores (ambric, kembric and dristic) which were overly used in descriptions and their relevance was a bit lost on me.

Overall this was a fun read that held my interest without fail - and could easily round up to 4 stars. For her debut novel, I was very impressed with Lyra’s writing and I’m looking forward to the next book in this series (here’s to hoping it will dive even further into this world). To any YA fantasy readers who enjoy court intrigue, myth and magic, I highly encourage you to give this one a try!

*Thank you to Scholastic for providing an ARC in exchange for my honest review!


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