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Author: Sarah Daltry
Publication Date: November 6, 2014
Publisher: Little Bird Publishing House
Synopsis: Who makes YOUR choices?
"I was once the type of person who was impressed by starlight; the type of person who would dance beneath glass ceilings and let the world swim in its loveliness. The sky reminds me of the parties we used to throw - parties like the one last night. The memories bring back the trill of harps and endless ripples of satisfied laughter. Now, though, when I try to recall what I felt, all I hear is screaming."
In a world ravaged by war and oppressive forces of evil, a princess must fight to claim her bloodright and save her people.
When the princess, Alondra, falls for the beautiful, blue eyes of a hooded stranger, it awakens in her a taste for freedom and an escape from her duty. But her parents have other plans; they have a kingdom to protect and Alondra must marry to ensure the peace between nations. Only what happens when your parents choose a cold-hearted assassin as your betrothed?
As lies, illusions, and long hidden vendettas surface, the princess has to confront a very secret history. One that makes her realize that she not only risks losing her liberty, but also everything she has known and loved.
Review: I read a lot of YA fantasy. It's my favorite genre, and I always jump at the chance to read something new and different. And Sarah Daltry delivers in her first foray into YA fantasy! Sarah's books have always been very character-based, and this story is no different. I absolutely loved getting to know Alondra, Seamus, Tevlin, and Layla and their world.
I thought the pacing in this book was really excellent. There are jumps between the past and present, but the chapters fit together seamlessly and give information from the past that is now, or will soon be, relevant in the present. Alondra has a lot to discover about her parents and their past, and about the way the world used to be. There is so much more at stake in this book than just Alondra's freedom, and she has to make so many hard choices. Even though the jumps in time might be a little disorienting to some people, I think they really tell the story in a way that going from point A to point B just would not do. The meandering path adds so much depth to the plot and the world.
Alondra is probably one of my favorite heroines that I've read about recently. She starts out as kind of a spoiled brat, bored with her life and upset that she's being forced to marry Seamus, an assassin prince from a neighboring kingdom. But as she learns secrets and gets to know Seamus better, she matures in to a strong young woman, capable of leading the country she's set to inherit.
And then there is Seamus, who is totally swoon-worthy. I fell in love with Seamus pretty much from the beginning, and I kind of wanted to slap Alondra every time she didn't want to give him a chance. Sure, he seems cold and apathetic, but he's go secrets of his own that could destroy him and Demoria. One of my favorite things about Seamus is that he treats Alondra with respect, and knows that he cannot force her to love him. He wants to at least be friends, since neither of them has any choice regarding their marriage, but he allows Alondra to love him on her own terms. He's really a sweetheart underneath everything, when he allows himself to actually care and show emotion.
Sarah's world-building is some of the best I've seen in YA Fantasy. There's a little bit of telling how the world is, because that's just how fantasy goes, but most of the world building is done through Alondra discovering more about Anara and Kooram and all of the other countries. Even though she's the princess of Kooram, she's led a very sheltered life and doesn't know much about her world. So when she's forced to save it, we get to see Anara through the eyes of someone who is also learning about a world that she's lived in her entire life.
I would 100% recommend Dust to any fans of fantasy, especially if you're looking for a YA fantasy. I think the really great thing about this book is that it can be enjoyed by teens and adults alike, so I'd really recommend it to any age group. Maybe not too young, since there are some situations that may not be appropriate for a middle-grade reader (there are a couple of scary/gory parts!), but there's nothing too bad or anything. I adore Sarah and her books, and this one is no different. A 5/5 for sure, and I can't wait to see what Sarah has up her sleeve next!