Aranya: Shapeshifter Dragons, Book 1 (Unabridged)
by Marc Secchia
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Chained to a rock and tossed off a cliff by her boyfriend, Aranya is executed for high treason against the Sylakian Empire. Falling a league into the deadly Cloudlands is not a fate she ever envisaged. But what if she did not die? What if she could spread her wings and fly? Long ago Dragons ruled the Island-World above the Cloudlands. But their Human slaves cast off the chains of Dragonish tyranny. Humans spread across the Islands in their flying Dragonships, colonizing, building, and warring. Now the all-conquering Sylakians have defeated the last bastion of freedom - the Island-Kingdom of Immadia. Evil has a new enemy. Aranya, Princess of Immadia. Dragon Shapeshifter. Series Note There is a companion series to Aranya, set in the same unique Island-World above the Cloudlands. Aranya is the last of the Dragons - or is she? Find out why the Dragons disappeared in The Pygmy Dragon, now available on Kindle.
I really wanted to love this novel
Aranya is the first novel in a series called Shapeshifter Dragons by Marc Secchia. Aranya is the daughter of the king of Immadia and knows that she has some special powers. When she is sent off to be a hostage due to her kingdoms fall, she quickly makes enemies that push her into realizing her real powers. As she becomes used to her powers, Aranya decides to rescue her fellow hostage, Zip. They decide to take on the tyrannical kingdom that had taken them hostage using Aranya’s powers. As they continue on their adventure, Aranya must try to learn all that she can about her growing powers and how they might shape her destiny and the fate of their island world.
I really wanted to love this novel, but I really struggled with it. It felt too much like a young adult novel that had matured to have appeal for an adult audience as well as a younger audience. I think that the plot has potential, but, for me, the story fell flat. There were definitely many positive aspects: many of the characters did have depth and there are a lot of charming dialogues. The dragonettes and the hidden magic that wasn’t fully revealed in this first novel were interesting. However, ultimately, I couldn’t empathize with Aranya because of the simpleness of her emotions, which made this novel less appealing. There was a lot of flying and a lot of fighting in the air and I just could not pay attention to the action. Unfortunately, this made the novel drag because I had to listen to it over and over again. There was also a lot of archaic language that seemed out of place. Beyond that, the romances irritated me because they had almost no foundation and resulted in a lot of immature and incomplete emotions. I didn’t they they were necessary beyond superficial crushes. While I really like young adult novels, I think this one just didn’t capture my imagination and seemed like it was for a younger audience.
The narration by Shiromi Arserio was acceptable. Her voice was in general was soft and soothing and potentially resulted in my inability to focus on the story. However, she did a fine job with voicing the different characters. The production quality was good. I would recommend this novel to young adult readers who like fantasy, magic, and dragons.
Audiobook provided for review by the author
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If you're a fan of dragons, shapeshifters, or adventure, this is definitely a book for you.
Fantasy is often hit or miss with me. I tend to either love it, or hate it. As I'm a sucker for all things dragon though, I decided to give this book a shot, and boy, am I glad I did. It had enough action to keep me glued to my speakers, humor sprinkled throughout perfectly, and plot turns that gave me whiplash.
Aranya isn't a character I can necessarily relate to, but she is easy to picture. The descriptions made a wonderful image, and her personality seemed to come to life in a way the best ones can. She's strong, fierce, and extremely brave. I doubt I would have handled her situation as well as she did, and her struggles were relatable, even with facing the extraordinary challenge of being able to turn into a dragon.
I enjoyed the author's effort to explain her dragon side in a relatable way as well. It wasn't overly technical or dripping with exhaustive narration, as many fantasy novels tend to. The situations and challenges were laid out wonderfully, with the reader learning with the characters, as opposed to being bored to death with drivel.
I enjoyed the secondary characters quite a bit as well, even the gruesome ones. I hadn't been expecting the danger or gore, and while it wasn't extensive or extremely unnerving, it was a surprise. Still, it added depth to the story, and put several characters into a whole new light, and gave another level of adventure and suspense.
I can't be sure how the physical writing of the book was, as I had an audiobook copy to review, but I would imagine it was written well. The narration was enjoyable, and I didn't have any spot where I felt pulled out of the story or confused. It flowed smoothly, and pulled me in from the first few minutes. The narrator did a wonderful job, although at some points I had a difficult time figuring out if the almost Scottish/Irish accent was hers slipping through, or meant for the characters at the time, as it wasn't consistent with any of them. This only caused momentary hiccups though, and I would rate the overall narration a 4/5 roses.
If this story sounds good to you, I'd definitely recommend picking it up, in whatever format fits you best. I highly doubt you'll be disappointed.
*I received a complimentary audiobook copy of this book, from the author via Audiobookworm Promotions, to listen to in exchange for an honest review.
@Desert Rose Reviews