Kara Magari is about to discover a beautiful world full of terrifying things- Ourea.
Kara, a college student still reeling from her mother's recent death, has no idea the hidden world of Ourea even exists until a freak storm traps her in a sunken library. With no way out, she opens an ancient book of magic called the Grimoire and unwittingly becomes its master, which means Kara now wields the cursed book's untamed power. Discovered by Ourea's royalty, she becomes an unwilling pawn in a generations-old conflict- a war intensified by her arrival. In this world of chilling creatures and betrayal, Kara shouldn't trust anyone... but she's being hunted and can't survive on her own. She drops her guard when Braeden, a native soldier with a dark secret, vows to keep her safe. And though she doesn't know it, her growing attraction to him may just be her undoing.
For twelve years, Braeden Drakonin has lived a lie. The Grimoire is his one chance at redemption, and it lands in his lap when Kara Magari comes into his life. Though he begins to care for this human girl, there is something he wants more. He wants the Grimoire.
Welcome to Ourea, where only the cunning survive.
I actually liked this a lot, it surprised me because it's free on Amazon right now and it's rare to come across any good free books. :P Nonetheless, this had a lot of adventure and growing romance. Goodreads claims that fans of The Hobbit, The Lord of the Rings, and Eragon will enjoy this, but since I haven't read any of those series yet, I'm going to withhold judgement. I have, however, seen the movies, and the only similarity I saw was the adventure and new species. But that's just me, and I tend to miss the obvious. ^_^
Kara lost her mom six months ago and is away with her dad on another hiking trip. She left her dad a note in the morning to hike and clear her mind of the painful memories still haunting her time to time. However, her hiking trip in the familiar mountains her family used to trail ends up with her finding a mysterious door in the side of the mountain, and after a storm sends her seeking cover on the other side of that door, roots take her prisoner and she falls- and ends up in a forgotten library. It's here that she finds the Grimoire, and a letter from its previous owner about the responsibility that she's unknowingly taken on. The world Ourea has been in deep tension for centuries, with its kingdoms in hiding from the other and a particular kingdom seeking the ultimate vengeance.
There are three main species in Ourea that she should know about: drenowith, the seemingly immortal muses who keep out of the politics; isen, the (mostly) evil kind who harvest souls to remain immortal and can take on their victims' appearance; and yakona, the race who have mastered magic.
Kara ends up in the hands of Deidre, an isen, when she tries to get out of the library, and is taken to the evil kingdom Stele with Braeden Drakonin, the Heir to Stele who had faked his death twelve years ago in the hopes of leaving his evil lineage behind. Being that he can change form, however, Kara doesn't realize who he is until they arrive before king Carden himself and she's forced to watch him control his son into giving away his true form before the new era's Vagabond. Two dragons break in and save Kara and Braeden, drenowith Adele and Garrett. They help her as much as they can despite being used to having the world think of them as myths, but even they have their own council to answer to, and when it's decreed after a trial with Kara that she is too broken to be aided, they help her in any other way they can that doesn't involve getting them killed by their leader.
Kara goes to Braeden's home, the kingdom he'd escaped to as a boy, and meets the royal family that adopted him. His younger brother, Gavin, his mother the Queen Lorraine and King Richard are all lovely (some more than others) and she feels comfortable in the kingdom. However, after King Carden kills Queen Lorraine, Kara is given the task as Vagabond to plead their case to the other kingdoms in the hope of having a peace treaty to unite and defeat the kingdom Stele. The new King Gavin is power hungry and too weak to go against the formidable King Carden, and even Braeden sees this, but chooses instead to aid Kara in her travels, watching over her in his multiple forms of disguise as they head to two of the kingdoms in Ourea.
The first kingdom consisted of bird-like people who believed men were protectors and women were the embodiment of their arts and culture. Kara found this extremely annoying, especially when she's told that the king will only see her as a woman, not a powerful Vagabond of the Grimoire. It's because of this that she refuses to wear a dress to meet with him, despite it being their kingdom's custom, and she even cocks an attitude. I found this very annoying because she didn't seem to have much common sense on when to have a backbone and when to keep her sarcastic mouth shut so she doesn't piss anyone off. And not just anyone, but the very kingdoms she's asking for help. At the same time, however, it was this attitude that allowed her to appear strong-willed before the mean king. And if anything, it was because of this lack of attitude that got her trapped in the second sea kingdom for three weeks. The king had told her she'd stay, and she didn't question it, needing this kingdom's approval of the peace treaty if she wanted to get the first one, as well.
Three weeks pass though, before she realizes that he had never intended to let her leave, but turn her into a warrior fit enough to harness the power she'd been given when she stumbled upon the Grimoire. This pisses her off, and she sends fire throughout the throne room to escape with Braeden.
One of the drenowith, Garrett, tells her that she shouldn't believe Braeden's new home is truly a place where she belongs. He even points it out to her that although no one's looked at her funny, it's because she's able to blend in with them- unlike the other two kingdoms -that she feels safe. She's safe because she can hide, and that angers her, too, though she knows he's right. King Gavin's future attempt and trying to control her only drives the last nail home, and she leaves the kingdom to go and search for the Vagabond's village that the Grimoire told her about.
The book's a great adventure for this college sophomore, and she comes to face with a lot of loss and new discovery. She's not perfect. There are moments when I find her annoying or stupid with the mistakes she makes, but she's human, and it's because she learns from them (at least I think she does) that her mistakes endear me to her. Braeden's not the perfect guy, either, with his own issues to deal with. But they both learn and grow from this, and I loved the way the romance between them was slow and growing throughout the book. In the synopsis, it's said that Braeden only aids her to get to the Grimoire, and in the beginning, he does that. But towards the end of the beginning, he helps her because of her, not the power she possesses.
Overall, this book was lengthy and entertaining. If you're looking for a quick read, this 300+ page book may not be for you, but it is filled with a great adventure and lessons learned for a college girl recently exposed to a loss that is closely tied to heart-eating guilt. It's free on Amazon and worth a look at. Once you read it, you'll either love it or hate it.