Undying Hope (Undying Chronicles #1) by Emma Weylin #BookReview
It took me a while to grasp the setup of the Undying universe, where the power and person are separate entities who coexist. Coming into this book as a new reader, I at times wondered if I’d stumbled into book 2 or 3 in the series, as there was a fair amount of history and terminology I felt I’d missed. It was difficult to tell what details may have been told in previous stories versus what I was expected to pick up organically through the storytelling. Learning that this is the first book in the series left me a little unsettled. Not the best way to start out a new read. In fact, the entire first half was an exercise in patience, as I plodded methodically through scenes with wooden lead characters—ironically, the secondary characters were all quite well presented—and confusing backstory references. Luckily, the story picked up around 60%…
“I understand this is confusing, and more questions come to you than I can answer satisfactorily. Give yourself time. This world you enter is complex.”
You can say that again. Levels of ruling titles—all of whom seemed to be male: why is that, I wonder?—and strange mating customs for a people with a history of time travel and immortality, and a dash of the Atlantis myth tossed in as well, make this book a difficult one to immerse into fully. That said, Undying Hope has flashes of brilliance, moments where the emotion is so tightly leashed, it could explode out of the pages at any time.
Then there are times when the characters’ reactions and vocabulary don’t match their knowledge or background. It’s disconcerting, as if the author is onto an idea that has a ton of promise but isn’t quite able to communicate the totality of her grand vision. And that was terribly frustrating for me, as I so wanted to be a part of that vision.
“Every part of me is in love with every part of you.”
While this story universe will appeal to readers who love the “fated mate” story mechanic—especially those who yearn for a little deviation from the fall-in-love-instantly-just-because-fate-says-so cliché—lovers of free will may also find the soul mate mechanic here appealing, since it’s not so rote as the tired ole it has been foretold, so be it for eternity mentality. The separate nature of an immortal’s power (the treòir) and humanity, and the inherent potentially fatal struggle for dominance, is at the very heart of this story.
“What are you anyway?”
“I am a treòir. I am the power and the darkness that allows you to be what you are without destroying your soul. I am you.”
Once I felt comfortable with the ruling system—regional rulers report up to a king-like overlord, with checks and balances to ensure fair judgement all around—I realized that I actually loved the class system for the warriors and their skill specialties: Earth Warriors, who easier whisper to nature and commune with the elements; Storm Warriors, who harness lightning to create portals that teleport people from one place to another; Dragon Shifters, whose fire burns hotter than that of any other force in earth.
The action in this story pops up when you least expect it, keeping the characters on their toes, and culminates in a straight up epic battle of power and wills. For all of its awkward character development quirks, this story has real merit as the start of what has the potential to be a strong paranormal romance series.
There were moments I actually cried, so the emotional arc in Undying Hope ultimately dominates any character development or history-telling issues, but impatient readers may find it hard to make it that far. Overall, I give this book a “worth a look” rating and plan to check out future installments in the series. There are definitely some secondary characters that have a whole lot of potential.
[quote]Overall, I give this book a “worth a look” rating.[/quote]