Lenni Reviews: "Windsinger" by A. F. E. Smith

Mirrorvale has long stood in a precarious 'truce' with the surrounding kingdoms; held together with the fear of the changers. Now not only overload but a mother, Ayla Nightshade attempts to broker a formal peace treaty with an ambassador from the neighboring kingdom of Sol Kardis. After one day of hard negotiations, the ambassador is found dead. Suspected of murder, the race in on to prove Ayla's innocence and prevent all out war.

Across the the three books (this is the third Darkhaven novel) the writing quality, world building, and character depth has been consistently entertaining and well executed. The build up is slow to a rip-roaring climax; leaving plenty of time to be intrigued and entertained. The characters are especially interesting in this outing, with even the side characters having story arcs ramping up several times to push them to the limit and end up with some great development. It can seem a little trivial in the grander scheme of things but it was good to get to know them.

I do hesitate to give away too much and end up spoiling some pretty major plot points. Suffice it to say I am loving this series and hope to see more. 4.7 out of 5.

Press Release: "Windsinger" by A. F. E. Smith

Having  read and reviewed the first two in this series, I am super excited for the next installment! :D Here's the summary from the author:

"Ayla Nightshade prepares to meet with the Kardise ambassador to sign a treaty between Mirrorvale and Sol Kardis. However, negotiations are halted as the ambassador is discovered dead in his chambers, poisoned by the same bottle of taransey he and Ayla had shared the night before.

Ayla has been framed for murder and the peace between two kingdoms is at stake. Tomas Caraway and his Helmsmen must rush to prove her innocence before war destroys all they have fought for.

Along the way they discover the plans for a Parovian airship, the Windsinger, which reveal a chamber designed for a special cargo: a living one.

Together Ayla and Tomas set out to uncover their real enemies – a search that will lead them closer to home than they ever anticipated."

I am starting this book today and with the power of friendship I hope to have a review up for you guys before then! :D

Lenni Reviews: Goldenfire by A. F. E. Smith

**Warning: This review may contain spoilers for book one; "Darkhaven" reviewed here.**

In this sequel to "Darkhaven," Ayla Nightshade is adjusting to being the new overlord of Mirrorvale, and being able to freely transform into her changer self; a fire-winged alicorn. She also has settled into her relationship with Tomas Caraway; the infamous Breakblade who is now a hero for saving Ayla's life in the first book. The conflict here is an assassin has been sent to kill Ayla and the secret that pistols can harm changers has managed to leak from the walls of Mirrorvale. Since Tomas is currently accepting new recruits into the Helm, the assassin could be among them.

Like the first book, this story revolves around the hunt for the true identity of a killer. Despite the repeated theme, the tension, character development, and pacing are well worth the read. In this second installment, we learn more about the cities surrounding Mirrorvale, the nature of changers, and the impact of guns being introduced into a fantastical, steampunkish (because there's airships and airships = steampunk, apparently). In addition, many books in a series get sappy and annoying when the romantic interests finally pair off but not here. The relationship between Ayla and Tomas is there but it doesn't take over or drag down the plot. It was refreshing to see the couple still retain their individuality, face conflict in their relationship, yet still remain a united force.

When the assassin is revealed and everything is wrapped up, it feels satisfying for the journey is took to get there. Each character's weaknesses and strengths are faced with grace in a well-built fantasy world and the concepts brought forth - such as the use of alchemy - leave the potential for interesting story avenues in the future. If there is a third novel in this series; I look forward to reading it.

If you like detailed world-building, fantasy creatures, and intriguing assassination plots, you will enjoy this book.

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Lenni Reviews: Darkhaven by A. F. E. Smith

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In this dark fantasy by A.F.E. Smith, we meet brother and sister Ayla and Myrren, heirs to the Nightshade family throne. But they are not a regular royal family; but a family of shifters. Accused of attacking someone, the novel opens with Ayla fleeing the city, but things quickly become much more sinister when their father is murdered and Ayla stands accused as the last shifter remaining in her kingdom. She must prove her innocence and come to terms with the fact she may not be the only remaining shifter in the city.

Darkhaven is a book that hooks you in from the first page. You are plunged right into this world in the thick of the plot and keeps you tense and curious right up to the last page. And as this is a dark fantasy, there is a general somber feeling even when talking to a regular citizen of the city. I enjoyed experiencing this adventure with these characters; as they are interesting, conflicted, intelligently written, and grow with the story.

The end is wrapped up a little too easily in a rather messy bow; but with all the intrigue you are left wondering what the fate will be for the kingdom and the Nightshade line now. The way the shifter's abilities are handled is creative and quite beautiful and the limits imposed on this power are reasonable. If you like your fantasy with a bit of mystery, you will like this book.

Lenni writes more than reviews! Check out her site here.