Title: Heir of Illaria (Illaria #1)
Author: Dyan Chick
Publisher: Illaria Publishing, 2017 (Jan 23)
Genre: YA Fantasy
**I received a copy of the ARC free from the author in exchange for an honest review**
And I’m not surprised that this book called to me….this cover shouts, “Look at me! Read me!”
So I did.
And it was good. So good.
But that doesn’t tell you much, does it?
Wilona lives a pretty normal life as a peasant. She lives with her grandmother and does embroidery to help make money. One day in the woods picking berries, however, it all changes. The King’s Guards find her and later ambush her in her home. They try to pull her from the home, but a mysterious stranger named Saffron comes in and whisks her away in the nick of time.
Wilona’s grandmother isn’t so lucky. Wilona isn’t sure if she’s dead, but according to Saffron, the King and his army of Necromancers are after her. Why?
Because Wilona is a princess.
With help from the White Ravens, Wilona has been protected all her life. She is meant to help the Ravens remove the evil king and restore Illaria to a peaceful land. When Wilona meets a key person in the quest for the throne, she is told she also comes from a long line of Sorcerers. Powerful Sorcerers.
As the Ravens hide Wilona from the king, Wilona gets in touch with the magic inside her. Apparently, Wilona is a pretty powerful Sorcereress. When she receives help from Ashton, a strong Apprentice and a master of fire magic, she realizes that the magic inside her might be stronger than any other Sorcerer. She wants to help bring down the king.
But the king is a Necromancer…and he has someone very important to Wilona.
And he wants Wilona…dead or alive.
I will wait to fangirl until after the rundown.
Is It Classroom-Appropriate?
Yes, this is definitely a good YA novel. We have a young girl, orphaned (I know it’s a trope but it happens), and we read her story from the first person perspective, which is the most personal perspective one can read. She goes through some confidence boosting as she tires of being used as a pawn….there’s some serious girl power in this book. Though I cannot find “academic” value in it, per se, I can find merit in the novel. I think this would be a great book to recommend or allow as free reading. It would also make a nice edition to a classroom library.
With that being said, there’s more to the series, so it is hard to assess when this is book one. It does end on a bit of a cliffhanger. The cliffhanger, though, doesn’t leave he book in an awkward spot: it is a natural resting place which helps when using a series book independently. (Kind of like how Harry Potter ends in the first book: there’s more but you can stop and not feel “unfulfilled.”)
Since this is an independent title, it will not be on Lexile. So I have to use my best judgement. There are some swoon-worthy moments, but nothing inappropriate. There’s no swearing, which is also nice. I could comfortably recommend this book to ages 13 and up. I think younger fantasy readers will love connecting to Wilona and her struggles, fears, and triumphs.
Before the End Result, I want to introduce you to Dyan Chick, the brains behind Heir of Illaria. I am always thrilled (especially when I love a book), to include some info from the author. But Q&A is even better, right?
1. What’s your fave genre to read in your spare time?
- My favorite genre is definitely YA fantasy. (YES!) I’m also drawn to historical fiction set in Renaissance or Medieval times.
2. What’s the strangest/worst job you had before you started writing?
- I’ve had pretty typical jobs: waitress, bartender, nanny, retail stores. Probably the worst job was the week I spent working at a bar that had off-track betting. Smoking was still allowed so the whole building was a cloud of yuck and it was full of older men who didn’t treat the waitresses very well. I spent a lot of time hiding in the bathroom before I got the courage to quit. It’s the shortest job I’ve ever had.
3. Is this your first book baby?
- This is my first book baby! The original idea was conceived in 2011 and I wasn’t brave enough to finally finish it until 2016.
4. What are you working on next?
- A prequel novella is out now on Instafreebie and will be on Amazon on February 22nd. Currently, I’m finishing up books 2 and 3 in the Illaria series. I also have two projects that are in the outline stages. One is based on a Greek Myth and one is based on a classic fairy tale.
*Here’s the linkie to the prequel if you want to taste Heir of Illaria. I haven’t read it yet, but I can’t imagine that being bad when this was so good: Tales of Illaria: Max and Saffron
5. If you had to take only one book with you on a desert island…would you just end it all? Just kidding…what would you bring and why?
- Oh man, only one? Could it be a box set? I don’t think I’d ever get tired of The Princess Bride. (I like her more now!)
6. Do you have any favorite authors or people who inspired you to write?
- So many favorite authors! J.K. Rowling, C.S. Lewis, J.R.R. Tolkein…lots of others. I’m also very inspired by movies. Star Wars is a big influence for me. I grew up on those movies and a lot of classic SciFi. My parents took us out of school to see new Star Trek movies and the Batman movies that came out in the 90s. Having geek parents is a big plus.
7. Where did you come up with the idea of Heir of Illaria? Do you identify with a specific character? Do you have a favorite?
- The idea came from a dream about siblings who were in hiding and didn’t know they were the rightful heirs to the throne. It evolved from there. I identify with different parts of each main character. They have traits that I have or traits that I wished I had. I’ve always been drawn to the idea of standing up for what is right so most of the stories I want to write are about somebody brave enough to fight to change their world. My favorite character to write lately has been my bad-guys. It’s fun to get inside their heads.
A thank you to Dyan for letting me ask her inane questions and her actually answering them! 👏👏👏👏👏👏
You know I’ve been practically foaming at the mouth for this part, right? You could probably tell by the title of this review that it wasn’t an ordinary one.
This. Book. Blew. Me. Away.
I can easily say it surpasses Ever the Hunted, and it almost rivals Frostblood for me. And I loved Frostblood. But this book is magical, easy to read, and quick to get sucked into, as I quickly learned myself. I keep reaching for my Kindle to continue and I don’t have book two yet. Luckily it’s in its final stages and I’ll have it soon. Dyan did give me a prequel Novella and until I have the next book, it will have to suffice.
The only way I can demonstrate my feelings accurately is in gif form:
Now, let me tell you: you need this book if you love YA Fantasy. I’m not trying to overhype…but I could see this on the shelf with the likes of Frostblood or The Kiss of Deception series. That’s saying a lot.
So I hope I made my point.
Happy Reading, y’all!