Friday, April 18, 2014

The Mark Of The Tala by Jeffe Kennedy

★★★★✩
A fantasy novel about a willful princess who is overshadowed by her sisters. A fateful meeting with a mysterious man ignites a dramatic string of events that makes the kingdom eager for war and brings into question her mother’s heritage. This is the first book in The Twelve Kingdoms series. 

Mark Of The Tala is a book that didn’t give the best first impressions to me but I enjoyed the second half. The beginning setup comes across as a lively and stereotypical fairy tale. A princess is an overlooked middle child neither strongest nor prettiest. The oldest sister is the diplomatic warrior while the youngest is compassionate and the most beautiful. The youngest sister gets married then returns some time later for a visit.

From there the story takes on the tone and style found often in the young adult genre. The world is fleshed out and secondary characters become better developed. The main love interest is introduced and from there a whirlwind of action and drama unfold. However through this whole stage the main character remains woefully underdeveloped and minimally reactive.

However the second part of the book was entirely enjoyable. I’m not sure if it was my awareness or perception that changed but I felt the author’s natural writing style, voice and strengths finally became prominent. The prose and tone of the book seemed to settle and take on a mature viewpoint. 

The second part of the book was when the world and characters finally flourished becoming well rounded and better developed. The main character developed a personality and what she viewed as her inadequacies no longer had the sound of shallowness. The main love interest became a better developed character rather than just a stalker intent on kidnapping. Their relationship was established and explored which was welcome after their awkward and limited courtship.

The world, politics, and back stories were better addressed and developed. The magic system was given more focus and I was impressed at the detail and depth it held. Remaining questions that had been avoided were finally answered and new questions arose with answers postponed for the next book.

The second portion of the book greatly improved upon the story to the point that I felt it was beyond redeemed so I rose my initial rating. I'm hesitant to continue with the series only because the sequel sounds sad but I definitely would read a book about the eldest sister.  

The Mark Of The Tala is fantasy book that possess interesting concepts that shows promise as a developing series.      

[Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book from the publisher Kensington Books through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.]