Friday, May 27, 2016


Her voice could unleash a war.

Twenty-three-year-old Echo del Toro doesn't know about the bride-choosing festivities the tyrannical Prince of Nyth has planned--until she's taken from her home by five armed soldiers. She's led under the cover of a magically produced storm to an opulent compound to join hundreds of girls, each vying to be chosen as the next Queen of Nyth.

As she plays the charade of falling in love with the Prince, Echo realizes three terrifying truths: He is hungry for her song-magic, he has a secret plot to dethrone his father, and he is not wholly unlikeable.

Faced with the strongest dark magician in centuries, Echo must know when to let her voice fly and when to hold her tongue, or she'll find herself caught in the lasting notes of a song that can't be unsung.

Purchase at:  Amazon US

My Review:
I was given a copy of this book for review. I was glad for the reading though, as I've wanted to read an Elana Johnson novel for a while, but she mostly writes YA and I'm not into that.

This novel is more New Adult; the characters are older but still growing into their maturity. Echo (at least it wasn't Zoe) appears to be a humble peasant with powerful magic she cannot control. The story starts off with a lot of flashback as character building for Echo, and instantly creates a sense of vulnerability for the character through the use of debilitating magical impulse and the recent loss of her childhood home Bond partner. Echo has been told she has very powerful magic, unmatched in the known world of Nyth and its outlying villages, and is the product of a prophecy; but the use of this magic causes he great physical pain and emotional suffering. Any time magic is used around her she feels the uncontrollable desire to expend her magic, but to do so will expose her to the evil magicians of the city she has chosen to hide out in.

There was a lot of story plot to attract me: the world building is alt-historical, the plot of overthrowing a tyranical monarchy is intriguing, and even I can appreciate a love triangle. Ms Johnson writes with lyrical cadence, kissable romance, and a progressive action sequence with many twists. If I was a die hard romance reader who loved a magical setting, I would have given this a full five star review.

The writing is well done, but typical to its genre: romantic fantasy. The focus is on the ROMANCE. The setting could be any contemporary world (morning coffee and muffins, modern swim suits, The Bachelor reality TV), but is set in an alternate universe where magic is common, if unacceptable. Much of the action plot surrounds lies, secrets, betrayals, and royal intrigues; the bachelor prince is seeking a bride from the commoners, and over 60 percent of the book involves the jealousies of the candidates; though Echo herself never participates in the "choosing" events due to disinterest in being chosen the next Queen of the realm, or because she is too weak after expending her good magic to attend the few invites that actually reach her. Her acceptance as the next queen is known by all except Echo before the story even begins, however, so her absence is hardly noted by the other candidates.

I give this story a 4 star rating because it has a generally acceptable theme: the romance overwhelms the intrigue of a despot king being overthrown by his well meaning but weak children, an untrained heroine that saves all through determination and love, and eventually gravitates towards the expected happily ever after and summation of all the secrets plots, with enough loose ends to warrant a sequel or three.

The writing was good for its genre; I just wasn't wow'd by the story line or characters.

I would recommend this book to readers who enjoy romance in an alternate setting, and appreciate characters that are both vulnerable and powerful and use their powers for good at great cost to themselves.

A speculative fiction author under the name Elana Johnson and an inspirational adult romance author under the pen name of Liz Isaacson, her work includes the young adult dystopian romance series Possession, published by Simon Pulse (Simon & Schuster), Elevated, the Elemental series, the Songs of Life fantasy series, the Redwood Bay romance series, and the Three Rivers Ranch Romance series.

School teacher by day, Query Ninja by night, you can find her online at her personal blog ( or Twitter (@ElanaJ). She co-founded the Query Tracker blog and WriteOnCon, and contributes to the League of Extraordinary Writers, a blog written by young adult science fiction and fantasy authors.

Visit Elana's Amazon Author page or her personal blog for a complete list of all her publications.


Pat Hatt said...

Sounds like a good one, can't always wow everyone indeed.

Anonymous said...

I like that you gave it a good, fair, and honest review.

On a side note, I love your new profile picture...or at least new to me. :)

Unknown said...

I understand your lack of enthusiasm for YA and romance. It's hard to come up with a really original plot and characters. And most big publishers don't even want that. They want a copy of things that have been done and made money. Very good review, Donna. Have a lovely weekend!

(You're in the dedication of Bloodwalker. I really appreciated your input!)

Denise Covey said...

Hi Donna. You always give a thoughtful, well-considered review. I've not read one of Elana's books. This cover is gorgeous and I'd probably appreciate the romance more than you did, don't you think? :-)

dolorah said...

Pat: I think it WOW'd it target audience

Thank you Elsie

Lexa: yeah, sometimes I understand the need to self-pub when something is unique. This was a good book, for the right audience.

Dx: Oh yeah, this is totally your kind of book. I was thinking of you and how much you would like it when I was reading it- and writing the review. I was hoping the review would attract readers like you :)

Tamara Narayan said...

Good review. I'm thinking about posting more reviews, but it's a tricky business when you know the author through mutual comments via blogging. My tastes don't always coincide with their genre either.

Anonymous said...

Great, honest review. I've read a few of Elana's titles and will look into this one.

A Beer for the Shower said...

Doesn't really sound like a book for me, but I love your reviews. They're thorough, and fair, but still critical. I mean, who wants to read a full page of nonstop ass kissing?

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