BEFORE THE BROKEN STAR (The Evermore Chronicles #1) - by Emily R. King

fantasy, romance, fairytale, book, review
Book Depository | Goodreads
Published: June 2019 - Skyscape.
Genres: Young adult / fantasy / romance.
Pages: 300.
Triggers/Content Advisory: Violence / sexual innuendos.
Format: ARC eBook.
Source: Netgalley. I voluntarily read & reviewed this copy. All thoughts are my own.

Everley Donovan is living on borrowed time. The lone survivor of her family’s unexplained assassination, she was saved by an ingeniously crafted clockwork heart. But the time she was given won’t last forever. Now, every tick-tock reminds her how fragile her existence is and hastens her quest to expose Killian Markham, the navy admiral who shattered her world and left her for dead. But Everley’s hunt for justice will be a long and hard-won voyage.

Her journey takes her to a penal colony on a cursed isle, where she will be married off and charged to build the new world. It is here, and beyond, that hidden realms hide, treasures are unearthed, her family secrets are buried, and young love will test the strength of her makeshift heart. When Everley discovers Markham may not be who he seems, her pursuit for truth is bound to his redemption, her tragic history, and her astonishing destiny. 

I haven't read The Hundredth Queen series yet (although I'm dying to) but when I got the chance to read and review King's latest novel, I couldn't say yes fast enough.

King's writing is lyrical and melodic. Sometimes too much so - in the first chapter, the sentences are unnecessarily purple prosy and hard to read - but generally the writing is beautiful. I also like how the writing styles correlates so well to the general atmosphere of the book, which is stunning in itself. The world is magical and haunting, and the atmosphere has that dark fairytale vibe I love so much.

I do have issues with the plot and pacing. While I can't say that the book ever took me to a place of "Oh my word I'm gonna DNF", it didn't completely win me over, either. The first half, especially, doesn't have a lot of action and not much actually happens: everyone is on a ship, there are a few mild skirmishes/arguments, but otherwise it's plain sailing (no pun intended). Basically, nothing rocks the boat. (Sorry ;). I just wish the author had brought in some subplots, brought in some serious complications, and not played everything so safe. As is, it's a very smooth story with little upsets. The characters don't go through hell, they manage to overcome obstacles with minimal sweat, and every so-called obstacle can barely be called an obstacle. Everything stays on a simple path to the end.

Incidents like when Everley kills Cuthbert or when the group is cornered by the witch are so swiftly dealt with and resolved that it's disappointing. These are opportunities bursting with potential conflict, something to knock the characters off course (I am all about the nautical puns today, it would seem), and yet they barely blink! Even the deaths (personally, not enough people died - it was way too happy) are glossed over and the characters hardly get the chance to cry. I'm not calling for gratuitous torture scenes and violence, but making the characters work for their happily-ever-after should be a given. I wanted to see hearts shatter and relationships implode. Give me conflict that actually has repercussions!

I believe in monsters. I have seen them take and destroy, suffocate and shred, every sliver of light in the world.

The entire cast suffers from the same problem: lack of complexity. I like Everley, I do - I like that she's stoic and independent and prickly (this brings out some golden humour moments) - but she barely undergoes development, or at least the author doesn't make a big enough deal out of it. Everley, like everyone else, is simplistic. All the secondary characters are flat, and the villains are one-dimensional. Jamison, as the love interest, is the stereotypical "strong and silent" type, with an abusive father and dead sister in his past, for whose death Jamison blames himself. He's a walking cliche. For that reason, I couldn't find it in myself to ship him and Everley. When you have weak characters, you get a weak relationship. 

I know this review sounds pretty negative. Honestly, I do not hate the book and I don't even dislike it. Yes, it was overly simplistic and certain elements could have been improved upon, but thanks to an atmospheric world, strong dialogue, and haunting fairytale origin, it is fun. I had a lot of fun reading through it. I suppose it's one of those books where you have a whole lot of bad to say about it, but then can't bring yourself to say that you didn't like it. You know what I mean?

Before The Broken Star is a beautifully written, magical fairytale fantasy sparkling with innocent fun. If not for its simplistic characters and plot, it would be an amazing novel.

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