Title: The Unblessed Child
Author: R.J. Kaldanis
Genre: Fiction/ YA/ Fantasy/ Magic
Favourite Quote: ‘“It was just a dream, it’s not like I actually think any of that happened. I’ve just been writing them down because someone told me it might help me sleep. If all these crazy things I seem to make up in my mind are on a piece of paper, they might just stay there instead.”
*I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review via NetGalley.*
Aardriyah has always been cast as an outsider, a red haired girl with no powers of the four elements, an unblessed young woman surrounded by white haired magically blessed in the water realm. It doesn’t help that her own brother is recognised as one of the most powerful in the kingdom and adopted by royalty and her little sister is already becoming increasingly confident with her own water abilities. Besides Aardriyah’s constant nightmares keeping her up at night, things start taking a strange turn at work as she is watched by a stranger with a purple glowing pendant, and her headstrong boss begins doing all of her unwanted chores without complaint. It only gets worse when she finds herself being dragged away from her family and placed into a dungeon in the side of the cliffs without a word of reason. When the last person she expects shows up to rescue her and tells her that she is in danger, Riyah has no choice but to accept that her life is going to take a drastic turn when she is forced to leave the only home she has ever known to travel across the realm to search for the truth of who she is.
‘”How are you all fine? Acting like nothing has happened? I haven’t slept at all in this past day! I was kidnapped, taken to a hidden prison, somehow managed to be rescued and now am pretending to be some animal handler ready to set voyage to Undina knows where for Undina knows how long!” She looked at the three men, all with their head bowed, still not uttering a single word.
“Say something! Tell me this is a dream and I’m not going crazy and that this is all some big joke!” She pleaded.’
I thoroughly enjoyed this story! I honestly didn’t know what to expect when I was granted a copy to read from Netgalley a while back. It definitely took me by surprise and I found I couldn’t put the book down! Whilst I did come across a number of writing issues, I was able to look past them as the author knew how to pull you into the story with unexpected twists throughout Aardriyah’s journey across the realm. A journey filled with elemental magic, interesting characters, mythical beasts, and a secret dark curse that begins to unravel.
The characters were well told throughout, even without much of a backstory. Our main protagonist, Aardriyah or ‘Riyah’, is easy to read and understand, an unblessed teenager who has lived a life of bullying, shunned and treated like an unwanted outcast by those around her who themselves are blessed with the water magic of their realm. She can’t help but feel isolated, even around her blessed family who try their best to make her feel safe and wanted. She has traits of a fire blessed with her long red hair, but no powers to speak of. She’s easy to sympathise with to an extent, but it doesn’t help that she pushes others away, feeling like she isn’t worth their time.
Chastion was an interesting individual, adopted into the royal family at a young age for his powerful water abilities, destined to rule the kingdom. Whilst he lived the life of luxury, he was still determined to remain close to his family but couldn’t help the distance growing between them as his duty consumed more of his time. The result being the broken relationship he now had with Riyah. His need to keep her safe with him on their journey whilst trying to build up the connection they once had was sweet.
Old Man Teme, whilst he was an extremely interesting character, was also annoying. Why with all the secrets? Was it really all necessary? I understand his protective need to keep Aardriyah safe with knowing what she truly was, but when she discovered the truth and he still kept everything he knew from her, it just grew tiresome. It’s a shame he wasn’t portrayed as a younger character, it would have given him a more appealing purpose in her life for the reader.
I enjoyed reading the elemental magical aspects of the story which kept the journey colourful and exciting and how each faction was separated by it with clear traits such as hair colour. However, I would have liked to have seen it bring a bit more personal depth to the characters surrounding Aardriyah rather than just their appearance. The blessed were only separated by their elemental ability of fire, earth, water and air, rather than their own individual creativeness with the powers themselves.
‘The air blessed were flying large kites in the sky, of varying colours and shapes. They soared above the ships, twinkling in the sunlight and casting magnificent blues, greens, yellows and reds onto the decks beneath. Some water blessed were shooting streams of water in front of and between the ships, making shapes of animals great and menacing. Aardriyah marvelled at how talented and creative all the blessed were, she had never seen such a use of the elements and struggled to know where to look, or perhaps it was because everywhere she looked people were smiling, unblessed and blessed talking as if now boundaries or discrimination ever existed.’
The plot of the story kept me on my toes, the author did a fantastic job at setting the scene along with it whether it was the royal household of Veros, flashbacks into the past through Riyah’s dreams, sailing across the realm on a grand ship, or walking the wastelands filled with volcanic ash, it was all very detailed and descriptive, you could really place yourself in the scene along with the rest of the characters.
Whilst I was intrigued with the mysterious stranger with the amethyst crystal following her, I didn’t feel like there was a lot of urgency or fear to keep me interested in what was really after our main protagonist and why which bothered me a little but there was enough to keep the journey interesting along the way.
Unfortunately I ended up having too many unanswered questions by the end of the book which ended on a cliffhanger. I’m not sure when the next book will be released, but I’m going to keep an eye out!
There are two types of people in The New Realm: those who are blessed by the gods of the four elements and those who aren’t even worthy of their family name. They are unwanted, unloved and are simply known as The Unblessed.
Eighteen year old Aardriyah Veros has it worse than most, forever living in the shadow of her powerfully water blessed brother and trying to survive in a broken and poverty stricken nation, to support her father and little sister. Matters only get worse when after two weeks of vivid nightmares, she finds herself being hunted and kidnapped by a mysterious robed figure, powered by a glowing amethyst eye amulet.
With her elderly neighbour and new found canine friend in tow, our unblessed child sets out on an epic journey to uncover the truth behind her dreams and why she is being hunted. As she traverses the deepest of oceans brimming with terrifying beasts, volcanic ash covered empires and tunnels of haunted kingdoms, Aardriyah learns that there are worse things in The New Realm than being Unblessed.