Monday, 1 April 2013

Review: Return by Charity Santiago

Title: Return (Lady of Toryn #1)
Author: Charity Santiago
Genre: Young Adult Paranormal/Fantasy
Release date: May 23rd 2011
Format: eBook
Source: Review copy from author

For the last three years, eighteen-year-old Ashlyn Li has been running from her destiny. A free-spirited ninja, Ashlyn would rather loot an abandoned city or challenge a fiend to battle than assume leadership of Toryn, her father's kingdom. However, when a series of attacks reunite Ashlyn with the friends who helped her save the sun three years ago, she discovers that her kingdom is at war and her father has presumed her dead.

Suddenly Ashlyn is faced with not only fulfilling her birthright, but also making sense of her feelings towards two very different men- Drake Lockhart, the enigmatic vampire who captured her heart three years ago, and Vargo, the charismatic assassin who was once Ashlyn's sworn enemy.

Will Ashlyn ascend the pagoda and become Lady of Toryn?

Return is a YA fantasy filled with kick-ass characters, heart-pounding action, and twists that you'll never see coming! I don't know why it took me so long to pick this one up - I finished it in one sitting, and I'm already reading the sequel, Regret!

I really like the world that Charity Santiago has created in this series, and the background was amazingly detailed. It really annoys me when there isn't enough world-building in novels, but this one has the perfect amount. There isn't any reference to where exactly this book is set, but I'm pretty sure it's Japan. I mean, the girl on the cover is definitely Japanese, and Ashlyn does wear a kimono at some points in the novel. Oh, and the book is filled with ninjas. Return follows Ashlyn Li as she goes on a journey of self-discovery while simultaneously trying to save her kingdom from war.

I pretty much loved Ashlyn's character. Even though she's quite irresponsible, especially at the beginning, she really steps up later. She learns to take responsibility for her actions, and her courage is incredible. Also, she's an amazing ninja, and I love that in YA protagonists! Ashlyn also has an awesome sense of humour, which made me laugh out loud at times. I mean seriously, how can you not laugh at this - 

"How can I trust a man who doesn't even name his own horse? I mean, come on, there's anti-social, there's enigmatic and then there's just plain stupid." 

To be honest, neither of the love interests really appealed to me, but I definitely liked Vargo more than Drake. Vargo is a Spartan assassin, once a sworn enemy of Toryn. The Spartans are now on the good side, but Ashlyn's not sure she can trust them, especially Vargo. He's kind of easy-going throughout the novel, never taking anything seriously. I did like his confidence and his sense of humour, and his banter with Ashlyn was funny to see. But Vargo never really shows that he's serious about Ashlyn, not until near the end of the novel. So I don't really blame her for not believing him before. Regardless, I'm hoping for more Vargo-Ashlyn scenes in the following books!

Drake is an ancient vampire, one who Ashlyn used to have a humongous thing for, three years ago. Well, until she saw him smile at another girl and she got jealous. Which, frankly, I don't really get. How can you feel betrayed when the guy you like simply smiles at another girl? Anyway, Drake is pretty emotionless for the duration of Return. I actually don't think he's capable of feeling much, not anymore, after all he's been through in his life. Drake and Ashlyn have their moments in this book, but I didn't like that Drake showed nothing towards her. I'm definitely Team Vargo, but I have this weird feeling that Ash is going to end up with Drake in the end...

Skye is probably my favourite character in this book. He, along with Ashlyn and her sister, Restlyn, brought down Lord Angelo three years ago, saving the sun in the process. Skye is incredibly gorgeous, and incredibly smart, too. He's full of surprises, and very understanding and supportive. I loved every scene with him! I think he and Restlyn would make a great couple, so I'm desperately hoping for that in the next book.

Return is jam-packed with action and suspense, and I was practically on the edge of my seat while reading it! As Ashlyn strives to prevent a war and accept her throne, she discovers a lot of secrets when she arrives in Toryn. I honestly didn't see most of them coming, they were just so unpredictable! Ashlyn surprised me a lot, and I loved that. Even her first kiss with Vargo left me shocked and laughing by the end. You'll have to read the book to know what I'm talking about ;)

I would definitely recommend Return to any paranormal or fantasy lovers out there. This one's right up your alley! The plotline and characters are just so compelling. After that ending, I just had to pick up the sequel, Regret, immediately, to know what Ashlyn was going to do next.

*Thank you to Charity Santiago for providing me with a copy for review*

Rating: 3/5

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