Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Review: Lark Rising

LARK RISING
Guardians of Tarnec #1
Sandra Waugh
Young Adult/Fantasy
384 pages
Random House Books for Young Readers
Available September 23rd
Source: ARC from publisher for review

THE STORY (from Goodreads)
Lark has foreseen two things—she will fall for a young man with sage green eyes,and he will kill her.

Sixteen-year-old Lark Carew is happiest close to home, tending her garden and gathering herbs for medicines. But when her Sight warns her that monsters called Troths will soon invade her village, Lark is summoned on a journey to seek help from the legendary Riders of Tarnec. Little does she suspect that one of the Riders, Gharain, is the very man who has haunted her visions. Or that the people of Tarnec have called her there for another reason: Lark is the Guardian of Life, the first of four Guardians who must awaken their powers to recover four stolen amulets. Together, the amulets—Life, Death, Dark, and Light—keep the world in Balance. To take back the Life amulet, Lark will have to discover her true inner strength and give in to a love that she swears will be her downfall.


MY THOUGHTS
Lark Rising contains all the desired elements for an epic fantasy story, Lark uncovering a previously unknown magical responsibility and embarking on a journey that will restore balance to her increasingly chaotic world, but though magic, friendship, romance and more are present, we still find ourselves flipping chapter after chapter without the enthusiasm we hoped for upon cracking the spine. There's nothing definitively wrong with Lark's tale, no specific flaws or drawbacks we can easily identify as causing our lack of excitement, instead it's simply one of those stories that seems to be missing an indescribable spark that would have otherwise seen us up way past our bedtimes reading had it been present.

Lark is the type of young woman who would typically draw us in, her quieter nature and complete inability to wield a weapon with any level of skill characteristics that should allow us to easily see ourselves in her shoes, our own general lack of badassery thereby creating an instant kinship. With characters like Lark, what is lacking in physical strength is usually made up in a strength of will and determination of spirit, but what we find instead is a woman quick to believe in her own inadequacies who interprets the comments and actions of others through a distorted filter of self-recrimination. Whenever something dark befalls those around her, in her eyes the fault and blame lie entirely at her feet, forcing her to then make rash decisions involving noble and selfless sacrifice in order to remedy the situation.

It's of course extremely hard to criticize a willingness to throw oneself on one's sword in order to save the lives of others, but Lark's self-sacrifice seems to come not only from the desire to spare those around her, but also from the aforementioned absence of any feelings of self-worth. She's not as physically strong as some, not as fierce as others, so she therefore should go it alone or lead the danger away so that they might thrive. Though the final chapters see a shift in that attitude to some degree, it comes a touch too late and isn't quite dramatic enough for us to really fall in love with Lark, making her a heroine we enjoy well enough but who doesn't necessarily exude the strength–physical, emotional or mental–to inspire us to want to stand beside her and fight the good fight.

Overall, Lark Rising is a fantasy that has a solid premise, a well-developed world, and nicely sets up the series as a whole while giving us a complete story in this first installment, it just lacks a touch of the emotional connection between character and reader that would catapult it out of the realm of “nice” and into that of “fantastic”.

Rating: 3.5/5

Find Sandra:


This book was sent to me by the publisher free of charge for the purpose of a review
I received no other compensation and the above is my honest opinion.

29 comments:

  1. Hmmm in theory, I love the sound of this one, and I really have been looking forward to it. I think that Lark would start to drive me nuts though. I want a character that, yes, takes fault and blame, but doesn't always feel the need to do so either. I'd want to see Lark with a bit more oomph to support such an otherwise strong premise. Great review, Jenny :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I don't need all my fantasy heroines to be badass, in fact I like it when they're quieter because I can relate more to that, but I didn't like how easily she accepted the blame for everything. I did enjoy the world and the premise though!

      Delete
  2. Ah yes I can understand the problem with Lark... But in a whole it sounds like a good one and I'm glad you had a good time. I don't read a lot of books in this genre but it's usually better for me when it's YA. I didn't know about this one I confess but I love the cover! thanks for the review.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I don't read much adult high fantasy, but I LOVE YA fantasy and just can't get enough of it. I wanted a bit more from Lark in this one, but I'm still looking forward to meeting the other Guardians.

      Delete
  3. Well I do know that mostly main characters in fantasy aren't that realistic and mostly they are really selfless and that's what I love. I want them to own the show, while I see that Lark is not one of them. It does make me sad, but regardless this story seems interesting. Great review, Jenny :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Lark felt more realistic to me in the beginning - I would be a bit reluctant to start out on this epic journey too when I possessed no defensive skills at all aside from the ability to run away, but I just wanted her to stop being so hard on herself:)

      Delete
  4. So glad you loved this Jenny and as always, beautiful well written review!!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I wanted to love this one a touch more than I did, but still enjoyed it overall for sure Ali!

      Delete
  5. Hmm... I actually really loved the sound of this book, but I feel like I would struggle with Lark's self-sacrifice attitude, especially if she doesn't seem to have self-worth. It's a shame this lacked a certain spark, but I can understand where you're coming from. Still, I think I will give this a try, probably by borrowing a library copy.
    Lovely review, Jenny!

    ReplyDelete
  6. I am willing to deal with the frustration of self sacrifice but need it to be balanced somewhere. Thanks for your beautifully stated thoughts

    ReplyDelete
  7. That stinks that this one didn't quite have the WOW factor. I do love fantasy but I have enough to catch up on for now. I may consider it in the future though.

    ReplyDelete
  8. At least the world building and plot are solid, but too bad it is missing a bit of something. Hopefully that will all get worked out in the sequel.

    ReplyDelete
  9. You're right, the only thing good about my general lack of badassery is that it allows me to connect with less skilled heroines. When I see them becoming badasses, for a moment I fool myself into thinking that I could become one too. If only I (insert proper justification here).
    I'm very very picky when it comes to epic fantasy and while this looks good, I fear I'd fare no better than you.
    It's too bad, though.

    ReplyDelete
  10. I love how you coined the term "badassery", Jenny. :) The lack of emotional connection to the character makes me a bit worried though I'm glad to hear that the other details are much stronger. I think I'll wait to see what book 2 is like before picking this one up.

    ReplyDelete
  11. Yea, doesn't sound like she achieves leadership quality but the world building sounds interesting enough. Btw, what makes you think I'm not a badass? I mean I could totally... yea, you are right, but at least that will also help me form a connection. ;) LOL

    ReplyDelete
  12. I'd give it a go, I mean fantasy, yay ;)

    ReplyDelete
  13. Ooo, I just got a copy of this one, and I was pretty interested, but seeing your review... I'm not so sure I want to read it anymore. I need that emotional connection, and if I'm reading and craving it, it doesn't bode well :(

    Lovely review, as always, Jenny!

    ReplyDelete
  14. Darn. The synopsis sounded so promising. It's hard to like a book that you can't connect with.

    ReplyDelete
  15. I just got a copy of this and I've been curious as to whether I should give it a try. I love fantasy, but I'm not sure I'm overly excited about Lark and her over willingness to self sacrifice. I might still give it a try, but it's definitely lower on the list. I appreciate your honest review!

    ReplyDelete
  16. I find in fantasy, more than any other genre, I need that emotional connection to really ground me into the realm I'm in. The fact that this lacks that is disappointing but I'm glad to see it did manage to surprise you in its other elements. Not sure this is one I'll enjoy but I hope the series improves from here on out! Wonderful review, Jenny!(:

    ReplyDelete
  17. I know exactly what you mean about being good but missing something. That happens so often with 3-3.5 star books. It's the intangible it factor that is so hard to achieve but so necessary. Also, the cover makes it look like she's part-tree.

    P.S. Sorry I've sucked at commenting lately.

    ReplyDelete
  18. But but, you seemed to have enjoyed it so muc!! Why only 3.5 stars?? Perhaps that's how you fill. Same thing here. This is on my TBR and I look very forward to read. The world seemed quite intriguing and the cover definitely has my attention :)

    ReplyDelete
  19. I don't know, I'm so hesitant about fantasy like this. I have had good luck lately with the could I have read recently, but I'm not sure if I'm willing to jump on this one. Yet. Because if the next one rocks, then I'll try them.

    ReplyDelete
  20. You had me at EPIC FANTASY! Yup, I'm so adding this.

    ReplyDelete
  21. Ooh! Have not heard of this. Hmm. I see! I totally get you seeing as some books just have absolutely everything, but are missing that ooomph to allure you to no end. Lark doesn't really sound like a compelling character, but seeing as it's the first book, maybe the author has plans to develop her as the series continues? *shrugs* Sorry you didn't fall in love with her as the leading lady :( I'm glad you enjoyed this as a whole though!

    ReplyDelete
  22. Self-sacrificing is all well and good when it's done with the right intentions -- and I don't think lack of self-worth counts. Interesting premise, though!

    ReplyDelete
  23. I've heard rather good things about this one and I think that I will be checking it out upon release day but I'm now very glad for your warning cause I need heroines that will show their strenght somehow and one that chooses self-sacrifice due to lack of self-worth is one that might end up irking me a bit!
    Fantastic review as always Jenny!

    ReplyDelete
  24. oh this one wasn't on my radar at all! I have so many fantasies to catch up on right now I feel like you've just added another one to the list! I'm not loving all that i'm hearing about the MC *sigh* but i'm hoping that since it's the first book in the series she's going to become stronger and more interesting as the story progresses? Hmm we'll see! Lovely review

    ReplyDelete
  25. Hmm. I just started this one, and it's slow going so far. I really want to like it, but I'm a little nervous after your review. Lark's personality definitely sounds concerning. I just finished an exhausting beta read of another manuscript, and I'm not sure this is the book to draw my brain away from that experience. This is a minor point, but on the map in my book, one town is supposed to be a fortnight away, but it looks to be about the same distance as another place that's only a 2-3 day walk. Maybe the map isn't to scale, but it's small details like that that drive me insane! Perhaps I should put this aside for now.

    ReplyDelete