Happy release day to Joanna Hathaway and Dark of the West! Thank you so much to NetGalley and Tor/Forge for letting me read this book early! This is technically the first NetGalley book I’ve ever been approved for!
I was rejected for the 16 other ones I applied for, so let’s see if this begins my flood of acceptances (doubtful, but we’ll see)
Dark of the West 3.5/5 stars
He was raised in revolution. She was raised in a palace. Can their love stop a war? Code Name Verity meets The Winner’s Curse in Joanna Hathaway’s Dark of the West, a breathtaking YA fantasy debut.
Aurelia Isendare is a princess of a small kingdom in the North, raised in privilege but shielded from politics as her brother prepares to step up to the throne. Halfway around the world, Athan Dakar, the youngest son of a ruthless general, is a fighter pilot longing for a life away from the front lines. When Athan’s mother is shot and killed, his father is convinced it’s the work of his old rival, the Queen of Etania—Aurelia’s mother. Determined to avenge his wife’s murder, he devises a plot to overthrow the Queen, a plot which sends Athan undercover to Etania to gain intel from her children.
Athan’s mission becomes complicated when he finds himself falling for the girl he’s been tasked with spying upon. Aurelia feels the same attraction, all the while desperately seeking to stop the war threatening to break between the Southern territory and the old Northern kingdoms that control it—a war in which Athan’s father is determined to play a role. As diplomatic ties manage to just barely hold, the two teens struggle to remain loyal to their families and each other as they learn that war is not as black and white as they’ve been raised to believe.
So, don’t get me wrong, this was an interesting read, but I really don’t think it was for me. I thought Hathaway’s writing style was great and I really liked the way she wrote, but the pacing was a little off in my mind. It took over 100 pages (in the eARC, so who knows how long in real pages that is) for the main conflict to really kick off. I also thought the prologue being so far in the future was a little odd- I kept waiting for that interaction to happen, but it was so far in the future that we didn’t even get close to that point in this book! I probably would recommend reading this book if you like slow burns, political intrigue, and international relations. It’s also a great book if you’re into history/WW2 and planes, which I’m not, but I thought the planes were super cool. One aspect that I was a little annoyed with is the fact that this book is billed (on goodreads at least) as a fantasy, but I didn’t see any real fantastic elements to it.
All in all, Dark of the West was an interesting book, and while it was not my favorite, I do think I will read the next book when it comes out. Let me know what y’all think of it once you’ve read it!