book review

Book Review: Shielded by Kaylynn Flanders

So, I started this book with the Fairyloot readalong. I try to do them every month or the books just build up. Anyway, my initial feelings about the book were pretty neutral, I wasn’t all that excited by it, but in the end it was a really good read and I’m glad I picked it up.

This book is actually really difficult to describe the premise off, there’s a lot of major plot changes throughout so I think I’m going to let good reads do its job.

For fans of Sorcery of Thorns and Furyborn comes a thrilling new fantasy about a kingdom ravaged by war, and the princess who might be the key to saving not only those closest to her, but the kingdom itself, if she reveals the very secret that could destroy her.

The kingdom of Hálendi is in trouble. It’s losing the war at its borders, and rumors of a new, deadlier threat on the horizon have surfaced. Princess Jennesara knows her skills on the battlefield would make her an asset and wants to help, but her father has other plans.

As the second-born heir to the throne, Jenna lacks the firstborn’s–her brother’s–magical abilities, so the king promises her hand in marriage to the prince of neighboring Turia in exchange for resources Hálendi needs. Jenna must leave behind everything she has ever known if she is to give her people a chance at peace.

Only, on the journey to reach her betrothed and new home, the royal caravan is ambushed, and Jenna realizes the rumors were wrong–the new threat is worse than anyone imagined. Now Jenna must decide if revealing a dangerous secret is worth the cost before it’s too late–for her and for her entire kingdom.

After the first day’s section my interest was piqued – I kind of like the arranged marriage trope so I was really looking forward to how that played out. The one thing I will say about this book was that it definitely didn’t go as I expected it to from that first days read.

The main character Jenna is not a wholly original character. She’s a princess who’s been protected her whole life and who has magic she has to hide; her father is stern and arranges a marriage for her. She also knows how to fight and enjoys carrying her sword around. The courtiers are mistrustful of her wondering if she’s going to try and steal her brothers’ throne.

So, I feel like there was a meshing of a few different common heroines we see in YA Fantasy, but I nonetheless enjoyed reading from her perspective. Jenna is not so self-sacrificing as to be irritating but she has a sense of duty to her family and her kingdom. The magic thing was a little irritating, especially when you find out that the father had known all along. It seemed like a pointless secret to keep from your daughter, like you’re increasing her suffering unnecessarily.

I think I would have liked to see a little more of Jenna’s feelings about her relationship with her father. It seemed quite a troubled and uncomfortable one in the small part of it you get, even though Jenna makes it out as otherwise. I feel like there was conflict there that just wasn’t explored enough. Like her father essentially kept her prisoner and then sent her out, disobeying his own forced marriage laws, to ride through dangerous, magical lands to marry a prince. Where’s her anger at him?

 I started to get a little concerned when the love interest didn’t appear until halfway through the book. I like a good fleshed out romance. But I actually really liked Enzo. I felt like we got good insight into his character and that the relationship between him and Jenna was believable.

I really liked his family too. It was nice to see an actual wholesome royal family in a YA book. I feel like we’re normally battling against a royal mother or father that’s either controlling or just a terrible leader.

Yes, some of this book was predictable but at the same time I thought it was very well written. The world building of the two kingdoms and the history of them was really good. I feel like I have quite a good picture in my head of them. Been kept in the dark about the third kingdom on the plateau worked really well with the storyline too.

The mages were a really interesting concept and I’m looking forward to hopefully having the magic system fleshed out in the second book.

Overall, it was a really enjoyable book. I wasn’t sure whether to give it 4* or 4.5* but I did really enjoy the last third so that nudged it up a bit. I’d definitely recommend if you like a good YA Fantasy.

4 thoughts on “Book Review: Shielded by Kaylynn Flanders

  1. I took part in the readalong too and I’m glad I did because I’m not sure I would have finished the book if I hadn’t been reading it for the readalong. I found the first half a bit slow and just didn’t really connect with it, but then in the second half I felt more engaged and enjoyed it a lot more, so I’m glad I kept reading. I also really loved Turia’s royal family and getting to see a family that love each other like that!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. The second half was a lot better, I saw another review that said it was almost like reading two different books and that’s exactly how I felt! I feel like I might not have persevered with it either without the readalong

      Liked by 1 person

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