|Nocturna by Maya Motayne|
|Reviewer: Ruth Wilson|
|Summary: An unusual battle between good and evil set in the beautiful Latinx kingdom of San Cristobal, where everyone has magic but not everyone is equal. Darkness has risen and a face-shifting thief and a Prince must learn to work together and save their world, or fail and doom it forever. Before they can fight the darkness around them, they must first defeat the darkness inside themselves.|
|Buy? Yes||Borrow? Yes|
|Pages: 480||Date: May 2019|
|Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton|
A thief without a face, a prince who was never meant to be king, Finn and Alfie collide, as if thrown together by fate, to bring about a series of catastrophes and set in motion the release of a darkness that seeks to consume all the goodness and magic in the world. These two unlikely allies must try to put their own personal battles behind them and join forces to stop the evil from destroying everything they hold dear.
Nocturna is slow going to begin with; the novel mainly focuses on Alfie, Prince Alfehr, primarily as he returns from his travels. He is mourning the loss of his brother and his elevation to Heir Apparent and struggling with his new role. The trouble is that his struggles are so selfish, his efforts so vainglorious and his losses so whinging that he really is very frustrating! Into the story is thrown Finn, she is the spanner in the works and thwarts his plan, at the same time he thwarts her plan since they are both after the same treasure, thus they are thrust into the consequences of their foiled heist and the story can begin to unfold.
In the foreword, Motayne describes how, within fantasy novels, she had a complete lack of Latinx characters growing up so decided to create a complex Latinx kingdom that has survived colonial rule and is inhabited by strong ethnic characters and language. That world is a beautiful and rich one and Finn is a wonderful, strong and complex character. Not only does she have her own journey of growth through the novel, from street rat to saviour, but also it is her strength and perceptions plus her unique viewpoint of the world, that shapes Alfie's growth from petulant, troubled youth to the future king of San Cristobal. Finn was the star of the story for me; her quick thinking, her speed, her fighting. Imagine a female, Spanish Aladdin, up to no good, but thrust into a story full of dark magic, death and destruction.
The beginning of the story is so slow that I did wonder if this was going to be the first book in a series; it really does struggle to get started but then suddenly it is off, and then wham! The rest of the book absolutely flies; it is fast paced, page turning, edge-of-your-seat action. Some of the smaller characters come into the plot at this point and Ignacio is a truly chilling and marvellous villain, he has come crawling out of Finn's past and was a despicable master and now, full of dark magic, he is back to claim her. Over and over again it comes down to Finn's endurance, Finn's ingenuity, Finn's determination. Alfie plays a vital role in the plot of this story but Finn is heart of the story and she makes it the wonderful novel that it is.
I still wonder if there will be another book set in this world, a few clues were left unanswered regarding the mystery of Alfie's brother's death, and Finn is such a wonderful character I would like to read more of her adventures. By the end of the story, I loved this book, and really invested in Finn as a character. This is marketed a Young Adult fantasy, but if you can stick through the slower start I would recommend it to most fantasy readers, with a good plot and fast paced ending it is a thoroughly enjoyable book. For something similar, you could try The Gutter Prayer by Gareth Hanrahan, or for something darker, you could try Dread Nation by Justina Ireland.
You can read more book reviews or buy Nocturna by Maya Motayne at Amazon.co.uk
You can read more book reviews or buy Nocturna by Maya Motayne at Amazon.com.
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