"How terrifying it would be, if even death wasn't an escape from our past sins and suffering."
Olivia grew up in America and knows little of the Hidden Lands. After her mother is abducted she is forced to trust two strangers to help her. They take Olivia to the Hidden Lands to find her mother. Atlantis, a city in the Hidden Lands, isn't quite the fantasy world Olivia always pictured. There are cell phones, airplanes, and a surprising amount of American pop culture.
I quite enjoyed the technologically advanced magical world. I enjoyed most of what I saw of the Hidden Lands actually. I was surprised by how a book touching on issues of racism and mind control could be such a light read. The second you hear three warring races or slavery you expect a book to be heavier. The hilarious comics and dialogue made a read full of substance somehow feel like a fluff read. Yes, there is a plot, it's a great plot, but it's never mentally taxing.
Jaclyn Dolamore talked about first inventing the Hidden Lands in 1993. The world was so well built that I actually wondered if it was based in some mythology I didn't know much about. (Seriously, I googled Miralem expecting mythology and got some Bosnian dude instead.) There was so much thought put into the past of both the characters and the history of the Hidden Lands that you can't help but be impressed. I complained early on about giant info dumps but there isn't another way to present this much lore.
I really enjoyed the cast of characters, they all had varying personalities that seemed to leap off the page. The characters each had quirks and strengths that made them feel real to me. Olivia is a home schooled, antique-loving girl who longs for family and a sense of belonging. Alfred is a prideful, blind, history buff who's only wish is to take over his fathers potion-making industry. They have a bit of a budding romance which was well done in my opinion. Too often the romance overshadows the plot, I would just read romance if I wanted a romantic focus. It also didn't fall into either hate turns to love or love at first sight, these are both annoyingly overdone, again in my opinion. The non-main characters were just a fully thought out. George is a pop culture loving sanarune who is just the best friend a guy could ever have. Thessia is a beautiful, equal rights activist with more going on than there seems on the surface.
Lastly I was happy to see that actions had effects all throughout the book. Not just on the character in question but those around them as well. All too often books have the mentality of all cause to further the plot but no effect ever. (For example, cheats on husband, gets caught, very little reaction, they stay together. That just doesn't happen!!) In The Vengeful Half effects were still taking place from actions years before, kind of a driving factor for the entire book. I respect and enjoy that. It takes a lot of effort to analyze what's being done at every step and what the ramifications will be. When the effort is taken you get a book that seems seamless, everything just flows and is.
Overall I found the book to have a great setup and characters. I think this series will be a blast to finish and things can only get more interesting from here. I will definitely be reading the second book in the series and can hardly wait! Thank you Jaclyn Dolamore for contacting me about reading this book, it was right up my alley and I had fun.