Review of Awakening (Book #6 Return of the Elves) by Bethany Adams

An unexpected duty
For three hundred years, Princess Dria has avoided the drama of the royal court by training as a battle mage. When her father summons her back to court just as she begins to rise up the ranks, she’s furious. Even worse, she must work with her estranged brother Ralan on a mission to Earth. But as soon as Dria arrives at Moranaia’s new outpost, her brother drops the leadership of the entire place into her hands. Now she’s in charge of fortifying a new outpost on a planet she’s never even visited.
An abhorrent task
Prince Vek of the Unseelie has spent millennia as his father’s enforcer, working in the shadows to eliminate evil, but after sparing his nephew Fen from the king’s judgement, Vek must tread carefully. One false move, and he will lose the king’s trust–and Fen’s life. But when the king gives Vek a new, more sinister task, Fen becomes the least of his worries. The Moranaians have a new colony on Earth, and King Torek wants the energy source that’s contained within. Vek must retrieve that power–even if he has to kill the Moranaian leader to get it.
A threat unknown
From the moment she catches Vek sneaking into the cavern, Dria knows the truth–the dark and mysterious prince is her soulbonded. But she’s certain he’s up to no good, and although she’s drawn to him, there is no way she can trust him. His reputation, and that of the Unseelie in general, precedes him. Unfortunately, more than desire is awakening. As they dance around their budding attraction, Dria and Vek uncover a deathly illness lurking among the fae–and a sinister plot that will damage both their worlds

I have to admit that when I discovered that Awakening was Vek’s story I was a little apprehensive, honestly, he’s not one of my favourites although I know I’m in a minority with that! The introduction of Ralan’s sister Dria as the other main protagonist was intriguing – a new character and a not so favourite character, I was scared that I may not enjoy this book as much as the others, especially after the intensity of Abyss. I should have trusted Bethany Adams though in that her writing would banish all my worries.

One of the great things about this book is that it’s opening pages give you a recap on all that has come before, the story arc is wide and the character list expansive, so having this little bite sized rundown of each book was a real bonus. That being said, I did find it took me longer than usual to get settled in the story this time round. Dria is a fierce new character, she’s been through a lot, and Ralan is really in the dog house, she has a tough shell to crack and that really translated across the page. Dria is far from your typical princess. We get to see a whole new side of Vek too and their snarky back and forth is pretty hilarious at times, building up on ever present tension between them.

Whilst the story was very much focused on Vek and Dria, that’s not so say that our old favourite characters don’t get their turn, even if only fleetingly for some. There is a really touching scene at a dinner for the sake of Arlen and it just goes to show how much of a long way all the characters have come since the very formal and etiquette driven pages of Soulbound. There is a lovely banter which has built up from them being a wonderfully inclusive and diverse friendship group, the shock of this to Dria is almost reflected from earlier books, in that it is now her formality that felt out of place.

Whilst not as dark in overall tone as Abyss, Awakening still has plenty of intensity and stand out moments. Bethany Adams has now firmly proven that she can write amazing action in among court intrigue and intricate plots. The set pieces are really something, weaving swordplay and magics seamlessly together – I just hope that Lial gets a helping hand, he’s had more than his fair share of work of late but the mysterious illness lurking doesn’t fill me with hope that he’ll be kicking back any time soon . The story flips so well between high and low fantasy¬†that the scenes on Earth don’t feel at all out of place and I’m massively intrigued by the ongoing impact of additional energy on humans and how that will play out as the series continues.

What I really loved though was Fen, his character has grown so much and his back story gets more and more heartbreaking. As we get to understand more about his potential bond I’m worried that he’s not going to get an easy ride there either but I’m really hoping that the guy catches a break.

Awakening was such a good read and the series as a whole remains at a consistently great standard, it certainly feels like things are ramping up and I’m excited to see where things head next for the characters


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