Wednesday, October 7, 2015

[Review] Awakening: The Dark Rituals by Catrina Burgess

Awakening by Catrina Burgess

Rating: 3.5 stars 
Series: The Dark Rituals #1
Version: NetGalley ARC
Release Date: October 7th 2015

Goodreads Synopsis:

In Awakening, the first installment in the Dark Rituals series, a former healer turns to the Death Arts to seek revenge.

Seventeen-year-old Colina was born a healer. But after a horrific event forces her to leave her clan, she becomes desperate to learn the dark magic of the death dealers, mages who draw their power from the spirits of the dead. Colina was taught to fear and hate death dealers, but becoming one of them is the only way for her to get the revenge she seeks—and the only way for her to survive.

Colina asks a young death dealer named Luke to help her, but he’s reluctant to train her in the Death Arts. Little does she know convincing him to teach her will be the easiest part of her journey. To become a death dealer, Colina will need to undergo three dark rituals, each more terrifying than the last. At the same time, she’ll have to deal with her growing feelings for her mentor. Too bad the first ritual involves him strangling her to death.

As Colina undergoes the trials, she discovers an untapped darkness within herself. If she survives the horrific rituals and gains dark power, what will she become?

Catrina Burgess’ Dark Rituals series originally appeared on Wattpad with over three million reads. Awakening is the first book of four and was named Wattpad’s Best Suspense Story of 2014.

I received this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Warning - I'm also going to reference games and shows and you may or may not know what I'm talking about. 

Awakening isn't your normal "I'm-going-to-avenge-my-dead-family" by "doing-whatever-it-takes" sort of book. You're introduced to Colina, who was originally a healer, but now wants to become a death dealer to seek revenge against the ones who killed her family. She meets Luke and Darla, siblings who are a part of a death dealer clan, and eventually has Luke teach her, bargaining with more than what she asked for to turn into the very being her clan of healers hates. 

Now the author leaves very small clues here and there of the kind of world they're in, and this is something new/cool. It's very similar to our modern day world, but with magic. There are cars and cell phones and your day-to-day jean and shirt wearers. Hospitals have their healers/doctors. And there are of course, your everyday troublesome gangs. It reminded me of the first few episodes of Legend of Korra, with Republic City having a very Brooklyn-feel to it. But the more I read into it, the more it reminded me of some of the rpg's I played/heard of. You join a guild, you do quests, you have a goal in mind. That itself was really cool! 
Bending and technology
Magic and technology
Did anyone see the similarity?
The Dark Arts in this book were darker than expected, too. I enjoy the darkness. "Experiencing death" and coming back, possessing a spirit, and binding a spirit - Did anyone think of the Dark Brotherhood in Skyrim or was it just me? 

The pace in the beginning was slow at first, but gradually picked up in the middle-end. It's really become a habit of mine to find books pretty great in the end. If you read like me, you'll think that there is going to be a really happy ending with Colina, Luke, and Darla and everything will be amazing again, but it didn't end like that. It took me for a loop just how desperate Colina was to avenge her family, to the point of risking her life (and the lives of other people who care for her - pssst spoilers!). But everything in the end comes full circle and makes you wonder - where can Colina go from here? Is she ever going to get her revenge? Or is everyone going to end up hunting her down? 

The only really negative thing I can say is, as a critic of trope (if you notice my TTT post), the romance. It felt rushed, and occasionally unnecessary. Luke was hot, but did I need to know every chapter? Didn't this happen in a matter of days? There was also a back-and-forth of the romance - "Should we be together? Should we not be together?" But... Darla needed to be saved? Colina's family had to be avenged? Ya' know, other more important things at hand?

But this time - instead of brushing their actions merely aside, Colina acknowledges what's wrong about the situation, instead of jumping Luke without any consideration. Towards the end, I really liked Colina (I may or may not be in the minority), but self-aware heroines are a plus in my book!

Aside from the romance and at-first slow pace, it was a good read. As a trope critic full of expectations, I walked away surprisingly pleased with how the book ended, and I can't wait to read the sequel.

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