Sunday, 9 February 2014

Review: All That Glows by Ryan Graudin

Title: All That Glows (All That Glows #1)
Author: Ryan Graudin
Release date: February 11th 2014
Publisher: HarperTeen
Genre: Young Adult Fantasy
Format: eARC
Pages: 272
Source: Edelweiss

Emrys—a fiery, red-headed Fae—always embraced her life in the Highlands, far from the city’s draining technology, until she’s sent to London to rejoin the Faery Guard. But this isn’t any normal assignment—she’s sent to guard Prince Richard: Britain’s notorious, partying bad boy and soon-to-be King. The prince’s careless ways and royal blood make him the irresistible for the dark spirits that feed on mortals. Sweet, disheveled, and alive with adventure—Richard is one charge who will put Emrys’s magic and heart to the test.

When an ancient force begins preying on the monarchy, Emrys must hunt through the London’s magical underworld, facing down Banshees, Black Dogs and Green Women to find the one who threatens Richard’s life. In this chaos of dark magic, palace murders and paparazzi, Emrys finds herself facing an impossible choice. For despite all her powers, Emrys has discovered a force that burns brighter than magic: love.

I haven't read too many books about the Fae, but I do love reading about them. Every novel or series has a different take on it, and it's interesting to see the similarities and differences. I enjoyed All That Glows, and I'm glad it's a standalone because it works really well as one. There are a whole lot of fantasy elements that will hold your interest and keep you turning the pages.

Emrys is one of the Fae Guards, and her newest assignment is to guard Prince Richard - the most difficult royal of the lot. He's young, irresponsible, and spends almost all his time partying with his friends at pubs and the like. Emrys knows Richard is in danger, and she does her job well. But what she doesn't expect is the connection she feels with the prince. When she breaks the rules and shows herself to him, they grow closer, and soon realize their feelings are deeper than they'd ever imagined. There are powerful forces after the prince's blood, and Emrys has to focus on her job if she is to keep Richard from losing his life.

As you can see, our protagonist's name is Emrys, a name the Druids used to call Merlin. Yes, the Merlin from the Arthur legend. I think this is really fitting because Emrys is basically Merlin to Richard, staying by his side and protecting him with magic. Except that she's a girl, of course. And what I really liked is that the legend of Arthur is incorporated in the background of this novel - supposedly Arthur was the first king the Fae swore to protect, and even now their goal is to keep the crown of Albion safe.

Emrys, though, doesn't really stand out to me too much. She seems bland at times, and I found myself a bit disconnected from her. Though I do admire her drive to do what's right and the strength she has to make the sacrifices she does. Emrys doesn't hide her emotions, and it's not hard to know what's going on in her mind. I liked that she wasn't secretive like some other protagonists I've read about.

The insta-love really bothered me, though. I couldn't find it believable that Emrys, a Fae who's lived hundreds of years, falls for a young prince in a second. And he falls for her immediately as well, of course. We are told they have a connection, but the reason we are given later on is a little too convenient, and clichéd as well. I'm not a fan of insta-love, and the sparks that flew between the two began too early on, as did their relationship. I mean, they barely know one another and suddenly they're kissing.

I quite liked Richard - not much in the beginning but as we get to know him, I warmed to his character. He's definitely easier to empathize with than Emrys, and I really felt for him in his situation. He has a lot of responsibility dumped on him all of a sudden, and his inexperience means he has no idea how to deal with it. He never wanted any of it, and his life is overwhelming him. I'm glad Emrys shows herself to him in the beginning, because I think he really needed someone to talk to, someone who could understand him. Emrys has guarded several princes and kings before him, so she's seen it all before. It's sweet to see how she's the only one who can get through to Richard.

I liked the writing in this novel for the most part. The imagery is effective, though too descriptive at times. Especially when Emrys is feeling sick on account of all the technology around her in London. But on the whole, it definitely helps visualize the scenes of the novel. The magic parts were done well too, and I liked seeing the different types of creatures we get.

Basically the only thing I had a big problem with is the romance and the insta-love that comes with it. But since that's a major part, it affected my reading of the book. I wish the connection hadn't been so obvious, since Emrys is so fixated on Richard and her attraction to him after that first meeting. But the rest of it was great, and I liked the action and some of the secondary characters too, though we don't get to see much of them. If you enjoy books about faeries or any other fantasy creatures, you might want to give this one a try. Just be wary of the romance!

*Thank you to HarperCollins for providing me with an eARC for review*

Rating: 3/5

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