The Keeper’s Chronicles #1. Author: Becky Wallace.
Drama and danger abound in this fantasy realm where dukes play a game for the throne, magical warriors race to find the missing heir, and romance blossoms where it is least expected.
In a world where dukes plot their way to the throne, a Performer’s life can get tricky. And in Johanna Von Arlo’s case, it can be fatal. Expelled from her troupe after her father’s death, Johanna is forced to work for the handsome Lord Rafael DeSilva. Too bad they don’t get along. But while Johanna’s father’s death was deemed an accident, the Keepers aren’t so sure.
The Keepers, a race of people with magical abilities, are on a quest to find the princess—the same princess who is supposed to be dead and whose throne the dukes are fighting over. But they aren’t the only ones looking for her. And in the wake of their search, murdered girls keep turning up—girls who look exactly like the princess, and exactly like Johanna.
With dukes, Keepers, and a killer all after the princess, Johanna finds herself caught up in political machinations for the throne, threats on her life, and an unexpected romance that could change everything.
Hmm… it’s alright, but nothing ever hooked me. Neither the characters, nor the setting, nor the plot; none of them ever jumped out and made me say “OK, wow, time to pay attention!”
Look at this tagline.
“Drama and danger abound in this fantasy realm where dukes play a game for the throne, magical warriors race to find the missing heir, and romance blossoms where it is least expected.”
Sounds interesting, right? Well, it sounds pretty cliche, to be honest, but surely they’re just condensing a complicated story down to the base tropes.
Nope. The base tropes are, in fact, the story. The political machinations boil down to a couple of dukes having dinner together several times, making vague threats at each other, and watching the main character perform. The magical warriors are elemental-based mages with vaguely defined power that comes from their essence, a power that’s demonstrated a few times in completely different ways, thus erasing any clear-cut lines of what can or can’t be done in this magic system. “Racing to find the missing heir” means literally riding horseback across the country. Isn’t camping out exciting?
None of the bad guys are very alarming, either. Two of the dukes are creeps, but there’s not much in the way of action from them; there’s a couple of actual attacks, but they seemed foiled easily enough. You can’t just tell the reader Johanna’s life is at stake, you need to make us scared (or at least worried) for her life.
And I don’t know about you, but I don’t call “the arrogant, snobbish, but-actually-kind-at-heart Lord who runs into the main character early in the book and basically ties himself to her” an unexpected romance blossoming. Although, to be fair, I didn’t spot the romance at their first meeting, which is an improvement over some books. Rafael comes out of nowhere and tackles Johanna while she’s hunting, brief flailing struggle on both sides and he ends up knocking her out? That’s a new one.
I did actually like Rafael and Dom, the two brothers. I liked Johanna and her little brothers too. The third group, the mages rushing across the country, were the dullest, though – I kept wanting to rush through their sections and get back to Johanna. So overall it was okay, as something to distract me on a sick day – which it was – but overall the entire book was a little too vague, too bland, and too dull.
Sexual Content: Soldier says “The only snake I care about is my own, and if he’s going to get a turn with that girly upstairs”. /Barmaid innuendo, “Let me know if I can do anything for you – and I mean anything,” with flirtatious looks and winking. The maid subsequently leaves with the young man, and vanishes into the barn with him, but his companions come looking for him before anything happens./ “You look like you’d been tumbled” – asking if character’s lain with a man, which she hasn’t. /Some kissing. / Character overhears a father ordering his daughter to capture specific man, says he doesn’t care if he “brings a trollop, or a man, or a horse to his bed, as long as he brings you to his bed as well”.
Language: 3 d***
Violence: Character tracks a deer by the blood trail it’s leaving, finds it with an arrow in it’s throat. One character tackles another, and there’s a brief hand-to-hand fight, with one character landing a blow to the kidneys and trying to choke the other, the other landing a blow to the ribs and finishing with knock-out. Man struck (fists) twelve times, part of a legal punishment for attacking another character. Girl sees her father fall from the high wire to his death. Character shoots one soldier in the eye, another in the throat, and cuts the last’s throat. Character comes across one dead man with four arrows in his body, and two wounded characters, one of whom dies subsequently. Mage questioning an assassin, touches him, “the smell of burning flesh filled the air” (torture).