The Branding is a new YA fantasy by first-time author Micaela Wendell.
The forests at the edge of Morwen's elfin village have always been dangerous. There have been rumors of children disappearing for good. These stories have just been legend to Morwen until her father becomes one of the missing, and she becomes determined to bring him home.
In Aren, her village, female elves aren't allowed to learn how to fight - but Morwen does it anyway. As she is training she turns sixteen and becomes the target of many an uncouth male elf in the village as her beauty grows with her. But when suddenly her baby sister Brynn is taken into the woods, Morwen hopes that the training she has received is enough - and heads right into the forest to save her.
She does find her sister - but her release comes with a price. The horrible, dark wizard Tobias will let little Brynn go if Morwen will stay as his apprentice. She agrees, and he places a "brand" on her - a brand that will slowly turn her into a terrible creature that will be a slave to Tobias and unable to execute her own will.
A chance meeting with a handsome elfin boy gives her hope of a solution. He vows to help her get to a wizard that can lift the spell. But they don't have much time - Morwen is already losing her beauty, it won't be much longer before her sanity is lost as well...
I felt like the premise of The Branding sounded pretty good - a high fantasy YA adventure always sounds good to me! ;)
There is definite creepy imagery and little Brynn is adorable - however I did feel like the writing itself could've used a tad more work. It just felt a bit rushed and stilted, making me feel like I was reading something someone wrote than being able to truly immerse myself in the story.
The ritual in which the brand is placed on Morwen was extremely gross and creepy, though, and I must give props to Micaela Wendell for that! It made The Branding suddenly take a much darker, shocking turn. The tale ends up being a creative quest, mixing adventure, romance, and danger. So even though I think some of the dialogue could have been improved, and maybe another rewrite would have made everything a bit cleaner, The Branding was very easy to read and fast paced. A very interesting premise, with a surprisingly dark twist!
I may not necessarily clamor for the sequel that is in the works, but I would certainly be curious to see where the story goes.
*And a couple quick notes to all you bibliophiles -
Bestselling author Lauren Oliver will be paying a visit to inkpop.com for a live chat on Sunday! To be involved or find out more click here!
Also, new Weekly Writing Challenge at inkpop.com just launched! This one coincides with Claudia Gray's new book Afterlife, the fourth novel in her Evernight series! In this one you are asked to write a short story, poem or essay that takes two of the characters and puts them in a great challenge they must overcome together. The prizes are still fantastic and the winners still include both writers and commenters! Check out all the details and how to enter/comment here.
Hope you all had a great St. Patrick's Day and are about to have a readerlicious weekend!!!