Guardians of Tarnec #1
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.
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”.
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.