Title: Locked (Telluric Realm: Book One)
Author: Anyta Sunday
Length: 330 Pages
Category: Fantasy, Urban Fantasy
At a Glance: While Locked was a rare miss for me from this author, Locked takes place in an well-detailed and magical world.
Reviewed By: Lisa
Blurb: A curse threatens the Winter Kingdom.
A brother is turned to ice.
A rebel uprising is on the horizon.
Marble-maker Rye Cunnings is at the center of it all—and doesn’t know it.
He doesn’t know he’s the lost summer prince. Doesn’t know his blood can unlock Winter’s curse. Doesn’t know why the marbles he makes flutter with magic. All he thinks is that he’s crazy. That he sees things others don’t, like dragons and strange markings on his skin.
But when a dark dragon snatches away Rye’s only friend Milo, he is forced to face the crazy in his life and figure out a way to bring Milo back.
Help comes in the form of Cerdic Leit, a warrior who finds Rye to take him “home” to the Telluric Realm and their kind. All Rye has to do is follow him into Gatreau, the gateway to the four Telluric kingdoms, and all his questions will be answered.
In the hopes of saving Milo, Rye steps into this new and dangerous world. A world where he learns of the Tellurics and their Hansian foes. A world that is swept up in a bitter battle of justice and hate.
And a world that won’t let Rye leave again.
Review: If you’re familiar with Anyta Sunday’s work, you already know she has an abundance of imagination and storytelling ability. I discovered that years ago when I impulse purchased her book (In)visible, and then went on to read everything else she had published at the time. Nothing quite lived up to (In)visible for me, but that’s only because the bar had been set so high rather than any sort of shortcomings in those other books—Rune and Scott broke and won my heart over and over again in the telling of their story.
While a different sort of fantasy tale than (In)visible, Locked again showcases Sunday’s imagination. Part Frozen, part Harry Potter style magic (with keys and runes rather than wands and spells), and part intrigue in which alliances are made and bargains struck gives shape to the dragon-filled world the author has constructed—a world that exists just on the other side of our own.
Rye is a square peg in the round hole that is the common world. He owns a marble shop in which he crafts the orbs that seem to hold mystical properties; although, he can’t explain why. Nor can he explain why his dreams leave him shaken and confused…and scarred by strange shapes cut into his flesh. Rye is a bit of a loner, his only friend being a guy named Milo, whom we don’t get to know much about before he’s snatched from the street by a dragon—right before Rye’s disbelieving eyes—and thus propels Rye into another world, a world of unbelievable magic where he’s secured a promise from a warrior named Cerdic to help find Milo and rescue him from his dragon kidnapper.
This story takes on a fairy tale aspect in a royal family whose ice-bound curse can only be broken by true love’s kiss—a truth proven when Taruk, Cerdic’s brother, bestows a kiss upon Princess Alyssa and becomes imprisoned in ice. From here the story takes on several layers: one being the search for the key to saving Taruk, the others being the search for Milo, as well as Rye discovering things about himself he’d have never thought possible. Including the fact that he’s not a commoner at all.
There’s intrigue galore in this novel, opposing factions, and in the center of it are betrayal and tested allegiances. Cerdic himself must make difficult choices between family loyalty and doing wrong by a man who’s the pawn in a game he wasn’t even aware he was playing—until he began to uncover the truth about himself and his ancestry. There’s little question Sunday put a lot of care and effort into creating the world as it exists in this novel, but (there’s always a but, isn’t there?) I feel the world building efforts bogged down the pacing of the story.
There is little to no action between the detailing of keys and locks and the tools used to activate the magic that permeates this place, and I found when I’d finished the book that there really wasn’t much of a plot to it—everything revolved around explaining how this fantasy realm operated, and it came at the expense of solidifying the characters’ personalities and giving them something to do besides telling me about their world. It might have worked better for me if some of the detailing had been done over the course of the series rather than it being done all in the first book, as at times it felt as if the characters were set dressing to the scenes they moved through. I found myself growing distracted by it all as the story progressed, while waiting for something to happen that would pick up the excitement level a notch or two.
While I still have a full measure of respect for the effort that went into writing Locked—Anyta Sunday is, without a doubt, a gifted storyteller—this one missed being an overall win for me. If, however, you love a high fantasy (non-romance) with set detailing on a grand scale, this is absolutely the book for you.
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