Air Awakens (Air Awakens #1) by Elise Kova

The Solaris Empire is one conquest away from uniting the continent, and the rare elemental magic sleeping in seventeen-year-old library apprentice Vhalla Yarl could shift the tides of war.
Vhalla has always been taught to fear the Tower of Sorcerers, a mysterious magic society, and has been happy in her quiet world of books. But after she unknowingly saves the life of one of the most powerful sorcerers of them all—the Crown Prince Aldrik—she finds herself enticed into his world.
Now she must decide her future: Embrace her sorcery and leave the life she’s known, or eradicate her magic and remain as she’s always been. And with powerful forces lurking in the shadows, Vhalla’s indecision could cost her more than she ever imagined.

Fantasy, 342 pages, published in 2015

The Solaris Empire is one conquest away from uniting the continent, and the rare elemental magic sleeping in seventeen-year-old library apprentice Vhalla Yarl could shift the tides of war.
Vhalla has always been taught to fear the Tower of Sorcerers, a mysterious magic society, and has been happy in her quiet world of books. But after she unknowingly saves the life of one of the most powerful sorcerers of them all—the Crown Prince Aldrik—she finds herself enticed into his world.
Now she must decide her future: Embrace her sorcery and leave the life she’s known, or eradicate her magic and remain as she’s always been. And with powerful forces lurking in the shadows, Vhalla’s indecision could cost her more than she ever imagined.
[Goodreads]

Spoiler Free Review:

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Content Warnings: torture

I read Elise Kova’s new standalone recently and I enjoyed it, but I definitely thought her writing was better suited to a series and I think I was right!

THE GOOD

Vhalla is such an interesting character to follow! She is definitely pretty naïve to start with, but she is very spunky, feisty, and tough. She goes through a lot throughout the course of this book, so you definitely get to see her grow.

One thing I did appreciate was that finally, someone in a series with elemental magic, thinks about how to do their hair with said magic. I think about this all the time!

I was very pleasantly surprised with the direction of this book! It definitely gets a little darker than I was expecting, but it was good because the beginning of the book felt a little bit typical.

I am very excited to see where this series goes! The romance, plot, and worldbuilding of this book definitely leave things open for the rest of the series.

THE BAD

Like I mentioned above, the beginning of the book felt a little typical. A young girl who works in a library discovers she has magical powers and gets involved with a mysterious prince. It felt like the beginning to a ton of other books I’ve read, but it definitely evolved past that.

I RECOMMEND THIS FOR…

I think any fan of YA fantasy would love this series! It has the plot twist, the romance, the action that a lot of YA fantasies have. The series has five books and there are two more spin off series, so anyone looking for a lot of books in a world should check this out! I haven’t read anything from the spin offs though, so I can’t speak for those books.

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A Deal with the Elf King (Married to Magic #1) by Elise Kova

Every 100 years, the Elf King comes to Luella’s village to pick a human bride in order to fulfill a centuries old pact. The Human Queen must have magic, so Luella knows it isn’t her, until a long kept secret is revealed. Suddenly, she whisked away to a new land and role that she had no preparation for and is married to the cold Elf King.

Fantasy/Romance, 338 pages, published in 2020

Every 100 years, the Elf King comes to Luella’s village to pick a human bride in order to fulfill a centuries old pact. The Human Queen must have magic, so Luella knows it isn’t her, until a long kept secret is revealed. Suddenly, she whisked away to a new land and role that she had no preparation for and is married to the cold Elf King.

Spoiler Free Review:

Rating: 3 out of 5.

Content Warning: arranged/forced marriage, semi-graphic sex

I saw the cover and the premise of this book…and I had to pick it up. Fake relationships (including fake dating, contract marriage, fake marriage, and arranged marriage) is probably my all time favorite romance trope, so add elves into that, and I’m in.

The beginning started off a little weird. There is a childhood friend love interest that annoyed me while I was reading, but he ended up not being a big part of the story at all. How Luella reacts to this character’s action kind of sets her up for the rest of the book, so beyond that, this guy had no point.

The first 200 pages or so felt very….repetitive. Luella has to get used to living in the elf realm and has to figure out what is expected of her as the Human Queen. She was a healer in her village, so she picks up working in the greenhouse. She doesn’t interact all that much with the Elf King, Eldas, even though he has agreed to teach her about her magic. It felt like every time one of them would open up to the other, they would immediately put their walls up and go right back to where they started.

Once plot finally started happening and Luella and Eldas actually started forming a bond, the pages flew by. Luella is very fiery and strong-willed, so sometimes she did things that weren’t necessarily well-thought out. Eldas kind of lacks a personality, but in general he was a decent guy.

The magic felt a little convenient at times, but overall, I think this world was pretty cool. Elves, fae, mer, vampyrs, and more all live across a border from a human village, where the humans have a longer than normal lifespan due to their proximity to magic.

I ended up with very lukewarm feelings. I can see the potential, but this book was just alright. This is going to be a series of standalones that will all be set in this world (I believe), so I’m definitely interested in reading more. I also am very intrigued by this author’s series because I think her writing style would translate well to a series. Plus, I’ve seen her Air Awakens series all over the place and I’ve always been interested but a little intimidated!

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