Genres: Fantasy, New Adult, Young Adult
Summary: A Hotheaded Prisoner
They say she’s mad—made of madness, made of fire. In a cage by the sea, Flare dreams of escape. She yearns for the day when she’ll flee to a place only she knows, a hidden world of mystical waters and gilded sands.
The island is calling to her. And she won’t let anyone keep her from it.
Especially not him.
A Coldhearted Prince
They say he’s cruel—crowned of cruelty, as cold as ice. A prince whose gaze cuts like the incisions he administers within his lab. Jeryn has sailed beyond his kingdom for the Trade, to bargain for those wild, imprisoned fools that make his skin crawl.
By law, they’re subjects meant for experimentation. And easy to despise.
One in particular. A girl seething at him from behind bars, with burning eyes and ready fists.
A Mythical Shipwreck
But on the cusp of transport, the tide rages. That uncharted island awaits, a dark tangle of foliage where creatures slither in the mist and poisons lurk in the flora.
Stranded, the prince and prisoner must fight to survive. In this mysterious rainforest, they must band together . . . if they don’t slay one another first. Or become something more to each other.
Something just as dangerous.
*Second book in a duology: same universe, different couple. Can be read as a standalone, though it’s recommended to read TRICK first. Mature YA: sexual content and language. Intended for readers 17 and older.*
My thoughts: Dare uses one of my favorite tropes which is when two people who are polar opposites are stranded somewhere and have to rely on each other to survive. Specific, I know, but some books do use this trope, and Dare delivered it perfectly while also speaking out about society’s views of mental illnesses. It was such an interesting mix of survival and two characters learning and changing over the time they spent together on this mystical island.
I’m a giant fan of Natalia Jaster’s writing, and she created yet another whimsical and atmospheric novel that I lost myself in for hours. I adored Flare’s resilience and carelessness which lightened the tone of the story and directly contrasted with Jeryn’s aloof and close-minded view of the world. Their dynamic really grabbed my attention because of the arguments they had together and the fact that they were the only two people on this island. I loved how their friendship developed into a romance, and I loved how relatable they both were in their own unique ways.
What really made this book shine, in my eyes, was the character development of both Flare and Jeryn. In the beginning, Jeryn says hateful and spiteful things about people with mental illness because he was taught to think that way thanks to his kingdom. But as he spends more time with Flare, he learns to open his mind and be more compassionate to those who aren’t as privileged as him. Flare speaks out against his hateful views and teaches him how to be more caring and thoughtful when speaking about mental illness. I think that exploration about society’s gruff views of mental illnesses and the treatment of those who do have those illnesses was so well written into this fantasy novel. It brought real world issues into a fantastical setting, and I loved how it was executed. This was such a fantastic fantasy series from the vivid setting to the well-developed characters to the romance that blossomed subtly in the background. I had such a lovely time reading this and cannot wait for another Natalia Jaster book to come out in the future!
*I received a physical copy of this novel in exchange for an honest review*