“The end of everything? Great, no pressure then.”
Pushed between two trees at her local park, Alma never expected to find another world. But Ambeth, where a palace gleams in green gardens by a wild sea, has been expecting her.
Now she has to find a lost sword or the consequences for humanity will be dire. With no idea where to look, despite help from her new friend Caleb, things get even more complicated when a handsome prince of the Dark seems to be interested in her. Add in some time-twisting, concerned parents and a battle between Light and Dark for control of a lost sword, and it’s enough to make any fifteen-year-old want to give up. But then she wouldn’t see Caleb any more. Or Deryck..
Oak and Mist by Helen Jones is the first book in a YA Fantasy novel series. In my opinion this novel would appeal to younger YA readers who enjoy a well described beautifully detailed fantasy realm, coupled with sizzling romance and a hint of darkness. The main protagonist is a fifteen year old girl called Alma who is pushed by a bully into an alternate world. In this strange land she finds that she is the one prophesied to find the lost Regalia of the land of Ambeth. This startling revelation frightens and intrigues her in equal measure. A huge weight is put on her young shoulders – if she doesn’t succeed Ambeth and the human world will be lost to the mercy of the beautiful but potentially menacing Dark Lords. An ominous threat hangs in the air…. What will life be like if the Dark lords get hold of the regalia? Will they continue to create foul creatures such as the Galardin?
The Taliath bracelet allows her to do short stint time travel hops so she can return from her own land to Ambeth safely, and burns if a dark lord comes near her.. This could be a bit of a problem if she hooks up with Deryck, (the Dark Lord’s son,) the burn marks might be a bit of a downer!
On the whole the characters are well rounded, this is particularly true of Alma, Caleb, and Alma’s love interest, – Deryck. There is a fair amount of romance in the story which will appeal to YA readers. There is also a sense of Caleb’s frustration at Alma’s obvious attraction to Deryck. Caleb would be a wiser choice for Alma but Alma (being a red headed lass,) goes for the ‘bad boy!’ This adds an interesting element to the story – a love triangle between the opposing forces of light represented by sweet Caleb and dark in the form of the more experienced (one supposes,) Deryck.
Some of the subsidiary characters could have perhaps been developed a bit more – I didn’t get much sense of Alma’s mother and at times I found her reaction to Alma’s popping out at all hours to go to the park (to make her way to Ambeth,) a little underplayed. The interaction between Alma and her best friend Sara could perhaps have been been developed a bit more too. But I do see that this would have to be carefully done so as not to distract from the quest aspects of the story.
At one point in the novel Deryck refers to Alma as a dolt. I have to say that I’m not sure if many YA readers will know what this word means… but I suppose it doesn’t take much to find out! There are a few typos, and minor phrasing issues, but these do not distract much from the story.
I felt that the cliff hanger and revelation at the end of the book provided an interesting twist but perhaps the ending could have been curtailed at an earlier junction – at the point of the revelation to draw the reader into reading more. I was left with a bit of a …. is that it moment at the end…. having said that I do think this series will develop and I’m interested to see where Book 2 will take the reader. Particularly as there are many similarities between my writing and Helen’s – we both write about light/darkness. I hope that the darkness aspects are developed more in the second book…..ha ha !! Hopefully we’ll see Deryck being a real dark lord… given the title of the book – No Quarter – I reckon it sounds likely! How exciting!
My overall recommendation – Definitely read Oak And Mist, it is an entertaining fantasy story. Its strength lies in its beautifully descriptive writing, and believable dialogue set in an intriguingly magical realm. The plot is simply written but manages to keep the reader entertained and interested throughout.
I have a guilty confession: I tend to be a bit lazy about reading sequels to books – I really have to like them a lot to do so – but I am really looking forward to reading No Quarter, Book 2 in the Ambeth Chronicles: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/26101561-no-quarter
Helen Jones was born in the UK, then lived in both Canada and Australia before returning to England several years ago. The thought of finding magic in ordinary places is one that inspires her; when she was a child she did find a strange valley and hear a scream – the incident stayed with her and was the starting point of the Ambeth Chronicles.
Helen has worked as a freelance writer for the past ten years, runs her own blog at http://www.journeytoambeth.com and has contributed guest posts to others, including the Bloomsbury Writers & Artists site. Ambeth is not the only world she plans to visit in her books, but it’s where she is now.
When she’s not writing, she likes to walk, paint and study karate. She’s now working on several other novels unrelated to Ambeth, enjoying the chance to explore other fantasy worlds.
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Have you read Oak and Mist or No Quarter? Do let me know in the comments below I’d love to hear your opinion..
Bye for now,
Marje @ Kyrosmagica xx