by Sandra Waugh
Read: September 29 - October 7, 2014
Published: September 23, 2014 by Random House Books for Young Readers
Source: Hardback from publisher (THANK YOU, RH BYR!)
Tags: YA, Fantasy,
Series: Guardians of Tarnec
Find: Goodreads | Amazon | B&N | The Book Depository
Book description: Full of romance and nature magic, this debut fantasy is perfect for fans of Shannon Hale, Juliet Marillier, and Kristin Cashore.
Lark has foreseen two things—she will fall for a young man with sage green eyes,and he will kill her.
Sixteen-year-old Lark Carew is happiest close to home, tending her garden and gathering herbs for medicines. But when her Sight warns her that monsters called Troths will soon invade her village, Lark is summoned on a journey to seek help from the legendary Riders of Tarnec. Little does she suspect that one of the Riders, Gharain, is the very man who has haunted her visions. Or that the people of Tarnec have called her there for another reason: Lark is the Guardian of Life, the first of four Guardians who must awaken their powers to recover four stolen amulets. Together, the amulets—Life, Death, Dark, and Light—keep the world in Balance. To take back the Life amulet, Lark will have to discover her true inner strength and give in to a love that she swears will be her downfall.
Reviewing this book is a very sad experience for me. You see, I was so excited for Lark Rising when I first heard about it, and I really wanted to like it. I tried hard to make that happen, but this heroine kept getting in my way.
My biggest struggle in this book was the narrator Lark herself. I had trouble understanding her character and just liking her in general. I felt like we would make some progress, and then she'd do something new that irritated me. It's hard to even describe why that was, because in many ways she acted like the typical heroine. But Lark had this underlying sense of self-doubt and feelings of unworthiness that permeated her character in a very negative way. Plus on top of that she was stubborn. It was a bad combination and just didn't connect well for me at all.
The romance in this book started off a little rocky, but I don't mind the antagonistic beginnings, and I sympathized with Gharain's enormous guilt over his past decisions. I was hopeful that the love story would be a strong aspect of this story, until Lark's immaturity and stupidity got involved and it became one of the more frustrating and unbelievable elements. Mostly in terms of Lark's misguided beliefs. The romance has an air of inevitability about it, and I didn't mind the instant attraction elements here, but some of the obstacles didn't work for me.
I've put more information about my difficulty with the romance under the show/hide spoiler tag.
Lark convinces herself - based on a very vague and inconclusive vision - that Gharain will fall for her cousin Evie when he meets her. Even though it's OBVIOUS that Gharain wants Lark, and Lark KNEW that visions could be misinterpreted. Despite this ridiculous notion, Lark isn't able to ignore her own feelings. She tells Gharain she loves him and they kiss, because he's equally into her. But in the next chapter, Lark's telling herself she's still "saving him for Evie." It was just ridiculous. Evie was clearly in love with someone else, and in any case, I'm sure she wouldn't take Lark's love away from her, or want a guy who was in love with her cousin two seconds ago. It's not actually a love triangle, because Lark and Gharain only ever want each other, but Lark strangely tries to push Gharain into Evie and create something that only ever exists in Lark's head. The whole situation rang false to me. Thankfully, Gharain ignores Lark's fantastical notions, and Evie is dealing with her own issues. Also pretty much all of this drama is in Lark's head, but I got tired of Lark worrying about it.
The story itself started off pretty slowly, but overall the plot was fine. Though, honestly, I was so distracted by Lark that I don't feel like I can analyze it properly. The fantasy world was interesting and I liked the idea of Balance as a major theme. I also liked Twig's role; he was a character that stood out to me. However, because of the way Lark acted, I didn't like this book more and I couldn't believe the ending she's given in the story. It just didn't ring true to me, or feel well deserved at all.
I was so excited about this new series before I read Lark Rising: I love fantasy, it was blurbed by Juliet Marillier, and the series is supposed to be four books with four heroines and no love triangles. But now I'm super bummed. I'm not completely ruling out reading the next installment, especially if the heroine reads differently, but my expectations have dropped tremendously.
Love Triangle Factor: None
Cliffhanger Scale: Low. This story is wrapped, but some indication of where the next is headed, especially the main heroine and hero.