Title: Unlocked
Author: Casey L. Bond
Genre: Fiction/ Fantasy/ YA/ Fairytale Retelling
Source: Author Recommendation
Rating: 3/5

Favourite Quote: ‘The stench of the dead got worse the farther I went. It was time to leave. Forget more food or my herbs, I needed to depart this place immediately. I covered my mouth and nose with my shirt, but when I reached the bottom of the staircase, my knees wobbled and the muscles of my legs trembled violently. A cold sweat broke out on my forehead and my stomach began to sour. The coppery tang of blood filled my mouth.
~ The truth slapped me hard in the face. This plague wasn’t sent for the humans; they were merely collateral damage because they got between me and the dark fae. It was sent to eradicate me. A cold chill pebbled my skin. My knees buckled. I was too weak. I fell to the floor. Pain clawed its way out of my middle and prickles of blackness darkened by vision.
Raya. She would be so scared when I didn’t come back. And no one was left for me to tell where to find her. Everyone was dead, and soon, I would be, too.

It’s been 10 years since Princess Raya of Paruth was abandoned on her own in her lighthouse on a tiny deserted in the middle of the sea of bones.
She’s been forgotten by time, living by means of an enchantment on the lighthouse that provides her with food and warmth but little else to pass the endless days besides an albatross as a friend. It wasn’t until a stranger washes up on her little beach during a storm that she begins to feel a small piece of hope that things will finally change, even simply by sharing her space with another.

Prince Trevor of Galder left his father and kingdom behind to travel north in search of a wife. It was time to settle down and forget Ella Carina, the woman who chose to love a peasant and follow her heart instead of choosing Trevor and fulfilling her duty to her people. He didn’t heed the warnings about the North Sea in winter, and his ship, crew, and captain paid the price.

Raya and Trevor find themselves working together to return to the mainland, something Raya gave up on many years ago. With Trevor full of determination, it was hard to not get swept up on the idea that they would finally be free of the lighthouse as they push through many obstacles to fight their way through the sea of bones.

‘”This is almost all I’ve ever known. This is my home. I have no idea what to expect in Galder, and everyone and everything I loved before is dead. The life I was supposed to lead isn’t here now. I’m scared, Trevor.”‘

After reading Brutal Curse, an Alice in Wonderland meets Beauty and the Beast retelling, I have had Casey L. Bond in my sights for her other books – which brings me to Unlocked – a rapunzel retelling. Unfortunately, this book fell flat for me for so many reasons and I can’t help but feel disappointed. I’ve read a few of Casey’s books now and this is honestly the worse one for me so far. Sorry Casey. It had so much potential at the start! I was so caught up in the beginning, it was so fast paced and exciting with an amazing plot lined up.. and then it suddenly slowed down and became a will they/wont they romance instead with a typical fairytale happily ever after.

Tell me this doesn’t sound epic to you – The Fae are at war with each other, pure blood Fae are determined to wipe out half-bloods for their magic and will stop at nothing to kill every last one of them. The queen saves the life of a half-blood fae who washes up on her beach. They quickly become fast friends and Hildegard ends up living with the royal family. We are quickly introduced to a deathly plague that is wiping out the kingdom caused by the dark fae who have managed to track Hildegard down. The queen, already feeling the effects of the plague, uses her dying wish for Hildegard to save her daughter Raya by taking her far away from the kingdom. Hildegard takes the princess to a light house in the middle of the sea of bones, enchants it with her magic before going back to save any remaining family but never making the journey back to tell anyone where she hid the princess. So cool, right? I was instantly hooked.

And then there was silence. What felt like silence. A ’10 years later’ chapter brings us to the main story which doesn’t mention the Fae ever again, the plague was just a thing of the past and the princess, who has spent all this time on her own in an enchanted tower, is completely normal. She isn’t mentally scarred for being abandoned and isolated on her own for so long, she’s completely coherent and well mannered without any education or human interaction for 10 years. It just didn’t sit right with me. Yeah it’s a fairytale, but a retelling is supposed to bring a little something more to the story, a twist to make it unique. I wasn’t expecting a princess gone mad, but a little something abnormal would have made me like her more.

Saying that, Raya was a good character overall, she is kindhearted and lights up the room with her warm personality. I liked how even though she was happy to finally have company away from the sea of bones, she couldn’t help but crave the isolation of the royal lighthouse and made it a place of her own where she felt at peace with herself. You could easily forgive her emotions towards Trevor since he made it clear he was still looking for a wife and she had nothing to offer but a title to a haunted kingdom. She was willing to put distance between them in order to make him and the king happy, a self sacrifice that I appreciated, even if it was completely unnecessary. She kept a level head throughout it all, which even though it was unexpected, she adapted to her new life to suit her.

I actually quite liked Trevor, a prince with many faults. A heartbroken mess of a character looking for hope, he ends up being the one who needed saving all along. He’s always pushing through any challenge and his strong will and determination will be enough to win your heart over, even if he can appear naive and frustrating at times. He’s immediately over-protective of Raya, especially when they get off the island and he can’t help but look for her when entering a room. He’s got that annoying – ‘she’ll never love me, so I won’t try’ insecure attitude which drags on for wayyy too long in the book which ended up being their only villain to their love story.

‘”How we are here is not how we’ll be expected to behave out there,” I responded pointedly, looking out at the sea. “If we are rescued, everything will change.”
“When we are rescued, it might change a little, but I’ll see that it doesn’t change in the ways that matter.”
That was silly. “You know we won’t be able to be close, much less friends. Your wife wouldn’t appreciate our friendship.”
“Nor will your husband,” he bit back. I thought he meant to sound playful, but it came out as bitter as I felt.
“No, I imagine he wouldn’t.”‘

There you have it for Unlocked. It’s got all the pieces but sadly doesn’t bring them together for the fantasy fairytale retelling I was hoping for.
Just a whole lot of ‘will they/ won’t they’ romance without any real obstacles in their way of ‘happily ever after’ which is why it ended with me feeling disappointed. Don’t create a dark powerful enemy straight off the bat, then ignore it for the rest of the entire book.

Goodreads Blurb:

Princess Raya of Paruth lived alone on a deserted island in a towering lighthouse, forgotten by time. With only a loyal albatross as a friend, she had little hope or joy in her life until he washed up on her shore in the middle of a raging winter storm.

Prince Trevor of Galder left his father and kingdom behind to travel north in search of a wife. It was time to settle down and forget Ella Carina, the woman who chose to love a peasant and follow her heart instead of choosing Trevor and fulfilling her duty to her people. He didn’t heed the warnings about the North Sea in winter, and his ship, crew, and captain paid the price.

Raya and Trevor must work together to find a way off the island, or risk being trapped there for the rest of their lives. But sometimes the simplest lessons are the hardest, and each will have to learn that the only thing that can truly set you free is love.

Posted by

Hey! I'm Gemma :) I moved to Japan with my husband and cat three years ago which has been one big adventure. The only downside (besides missing my family and dairymilk) is that I've moved to a country where English bookshops are limited, plus the idea of transporting so many books back home sounds dreadfully expensive. I've grown to love my Kindle which is why I'm fixated on ebooks. It connects nicely to my goodreads and netgalley account also which means I'm always adding more to my never ending list of books. I read fiction and love all things fantasy, YA, historical fiction and classics. Add a bit of mystery and I'll be hooked!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s