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June 10, 2022

2 Young Adult Novels for Readers of Any Age

by MK French

Whether you are looking for something new to read for yourself or for your teenager who is already bored this summer, I have a couple of great young adult novels that anyone will enjoy regardless of age.

Amazon affiliate links are used on this site. Free books were provided for an honest review.

Veil of Winter by Melanie Dickerson

book cover of young adult romance novel Veil of Winter by Melanie Dickerson
June 2022; Thomas Nelson; 978-0785250760
audio, ebook, print (320 pages); YA romance

Princess Elyse is forced to marry and create an alliance that would enrich her father but enslave her kingdom. Instead, she fakes her death and flees to Prague for help. Young Sir Gerard has a vision from God instructing him to help her, and he finds her near death. She thinks he was trying to kiss her and distrusts him, but she's forced to accept his aid. The two must evade guards and winter in the French mountains. Will her emotions lead her into her true identity, or will they undermine her ability to work with Gerard and to save her people, who desperately need her help?

This incorporates the Sleeping Beauty fairy tale and is the third Derricot tale (Court of Swans is the first in the series, and my review is here).  From the start, Elyce is told that her volatile emotions and quick tears are a liability, and she must be more reserved and collected as a princess. Her father plans to have an alliance with the neighboring king Claude, using his people to work in those mines even though they're farmers and crafters. Elyce is horrified by this, as well as the expectation that she will marry that king's nephew. Because it takes place in the 1300s, she really should have expected that. Instead, she'd rather fake her death, than take off running to Prague to plead her case before King Winceslas of the Holy Roman Empire. Of course, it's a very thin plan and there are troubles along the way, including a growing attraction between Elyce and Sir Gerard.

The novel proceeds quickly, and they're in constant movement from the start. I didn't think Elyce had much of a plan, and there were few people she could trust or discuss her concerns with. Her father, Claude, and Rodrigo are all caricatures of evil men, and of course, have allies across the Holy Roman Empire to try to recapture Elyce and threaten the few allies she has. It's very trope heavy, and the antagonists have little redeeming value. They're not complicated characters, and the prayers to God throughout the novel appear to be answered each time. It's a happily ever after, in a contrived, fairy tale kind of way.

Buy Veil of Winter at Amazon

This Vicious Grace by Emily Thiede

book cover of young adult fantasy novel This Vicious Grace by Emily Thiede
June 2022; Wednesday Books; 978-1250794055
audio, ebook, print (448 pages); YA fantasy

Alessa is supposed to have a gift to amplify a partner's powers, but the three men she married all died. A hungry swarm of demons plans to invade her island home, and a priest convinces the people that killing her will appease them. Alessa hires a bodyguard, but he has his own secrets that just might destroy her.

This is the first book of the Finestra series, and it's very well done. In this world, where language and names are a mix of cultures we recognize but primarily Italian, the goddess Dea saved people with three gifts, one of which was stolen. The Finestra will amplify the power that her Fonte has in order to fight off the scarabeo, creatures who arrive each Divorando to devour any or all living things left behind. The Finestra is kept isolated from those outside of the Citadella, the better to cherish the relationship with her mentors and Fonte. Unfortunately for Alessa, this made her crave companionship and ultimately fear her power when her two male and one female consorts all die with her touch. The people of her island nation of Saverio are relying on her to live beyond the day. The deaths of the Fontes have made the people (and Alessa herself) doubt her, to the point that people feel she should be killed so a new Finestra could be found. This leads her to find Dante, a surly fighter who reluctantly agrees to protect her from would be assassins.

I really enjoyed getting to know Alessa and the Fontes, who she brings into the Citadella to train with prior to choosing which one she would ritually marry. They each have their own personalities and fear the death they're sure will come if they get too close. At the same time, Dante upholds his end of the bargain to keep Alessa safe. She's so desperate for companionship, and he figures out part of the problem that led to her Fontes' death. They grow closer, but she also becomes friends with the Fontes. It's a fantasy setting, with an otherworldly enemy that knows nothing about families, love or trust, all of which drive Alessa.

This is the first of a series, so of course, there's something of a cliffhanger for future books to hook into. This is a fascinating world, one that feels like ours but is distant enough that we can accept their rules, religion, and traditions. I loved reading this and look forward to future books in this series.

Buy The Vicious Grace at Amazon

Born and raised in New York City, M.K. French started writing stories when very young, dreaming of different worlds and places to visit. She always had an interest in folklore, fairy tales, and the macabre, which has definitely influenced her work. She currently lives in the Midwest with her husband, three young children, and a golden retriever. 

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