(3.5⭐️) Fractures follows two boys who are brothers in all but blood as they navigate the path that their misfortunes take them. When raiders burn their village, kill their family, and capture them for the slave trade, Thaleon and Dawyn must navigate a cruel world. Separated along the voyage to the island of Scyrta, these two boys must endure terrible situations, often barely surviving. Thaleon has dark magic, called valekyn, and goes to Allsdale to train as a mage. His brother, Dawyn arrives in Scyrta and must witness first-hand the destruction valekyn causes.
This is a story of boys learning to shed their naïveté and innocence. There are some mature themes involved, including rape (which is never actually shown or described) and discrimination, among other things. It is not easy to explore such deep themes in writing and N.K. Leem is to be commended for being brave enough to explore these, and for doing it well.
The book was a very fast read, which I liked, where the scenes moved quickly and the plot did not linger. There wasn’t a single time I found myself bored. The characters gave you a reason to be sympathetic as they encountered one trial after another. Thaleon and Dawyn were believable characters for their age. Too often children in fantasy are portrayed much smarter than what is realistic. Thaleon and Dawyn didn’t always make the best decisions, nor did they always handle themselves in the best ways. But they were kids. That’s what kids do. It was their imperfections that made them believable. I appreciated that.
N.K. Leem’s writing style is very elegant and I enjoyed the words as they poured off the pages. The parallels she drew between Thaleon and Dawn with dark magic was creative. The world she created was likewise curiosity-inspiring. I wish there had been a map, though, as it would have made it easier to picture all the locations.
I would say my favorite aspect of the story (aside from the characters) was the magic itself. I was intreagued by the descriptions of the dark and light magic as shadows that pulled themselves free of the mage that cast them, to do their bidding. I thought it was cool that one could detect traces of this magic lingering in the air even after cast. I did feel that more depth could have been added to the magical lessons Thaleon took part in, and while the most detail was added to the healing lessons. I felt that this could have been explored more and was disappointed.
In terms of some of the more technical elements:
I didn’t feel Thaleon and Dawyn followed definable character arcs. I found myself trying to figure out what flaws they had to overcome along their journey, struggling to see their personal growth on a deeper level. I was left to assume they were growing simply because of all the rough situations they were forced into. Aside from the character arc, I also couldn’t find a discernible “hero’s journey” taking place. The story ended rather abruptly and felt somewhat unresolved. Ultimately, I subtracted 1.5 stars because of these elements, which I feel is a large backbone of any story.
Overall, bravo to N.K Leem for a wonderful debut novel. I’m looking forward to the second book, and hoping both Thaleon and Dawyn become reunited during their next adventures. I feel that that would ultimately close out their story better. If you like fantasy, magic, and fast paced reading, give this one a try.
I received an ARC ebook in exchange for an honest review. Thank you N.K. Leem for this opportunity!