I know – it’s been a while since I’ve written one of these. However, I’m super excited to tell you guys about Broken Aro!
A while back, I signed up as a reviewer on Our Write Side (if you’re interested in reviewing books, check out the application here), and the first book I chose to review is Broken Aro (The Broken Ones #1) by Jen Wylie. I was a bit iffy at first – I don’t usually read high-fantasy type books, but I have to say I was pleasantly surprised the further I got into it.
But, before I get into the review, here’s a synopsis (keeping it spoiler free as possible!).
Open your eyes to darkness. What do you see? Does the darkness frighten you? Now imagine the darkness being the cargo hold of a slave ship. Your city has fallen. Your family is most likely dead. You don’t know anyone around you, and some of them aren’t even human. Giving up would be so easy to do, but not for Arowyn Mason. Not after being raised in a military family with seven brothers. Every great story should begin with a plan. Aro’s was to escape and to survive.
Escape comes, but at a price. As they reach the shore, Aro and the other survivors learn that freedom doesn’t mean safety. The slavers want their property back and will do anything to get it. The party uses every ounce of their brute strength, a hearty helping of cunning, and even ancient magics to keep themselves alive. Sickness, danger, and even love surprise them at every turn. Dealing with danger becomes their way of life, but none of them ever considered that nothing can be quite as dangerous as a prophecy. Running turns into another race altogether as her world falls to pieces again and again.
Like I mentioned before, high fantasy – as much as I love it in movies – isn’t my thing. However, Broken Aro is unlike any high fantasy I’ve ever read. Usually, books like Lord of the Rings are filled to the brim with drawn out descriptions and complex histories I couldn’t care less for. In the case of Arowyn Mason’s story, though, it’s much more tightly written and a quicker read than I thought it would be going in, which was, honestly, what drew me in right away.
Aro starts off as a pretty typical girl. To be honest, I didn’t really like her at first, but she started growing on me as her character developed. She starts out a little on the meek side, despite all her big talk about being capable (she’s only 15), but by the end of the book she’s definitely grown up and into her own, developing a real confidence that hadn’t been evident at the start of the story. As far as the other characters go, even though the author juggles quite a few, they’re easy to tell apart and each have distinct personalities and voices. That’s difficult to do, and the author does an awesome job of making all these people real to the reader. I absolutely love both Kei and Prince, and I really look forward to learning more about them in future installments! I’ll keep from talking too much about them here for fear of spoilers.
I mentioned earlier that it’s a quicker read than I expected, mostly due to the author’s brevity in her descriptions. Unlike typical fantasy, there’s no long-winded description of scenery, races, or the universe’s history – everything is shown rather than told. The various races (Fey, Dragos, Were, Elves) are woven into the story and the information about them trickles through in various points of the book, so there’s never an info-dump about any of them. Everything is to the point and holds only the essentials, which I absolutely loved about the book. The descriptions helped the action feel real and move along quickly. Despite the brevity, the author creates a vivid world full of lush landscapes and real feeling. Aro’s emotions in the aftermath of every event that impacts her felt perfectly depicted and even now, days after having finished the book, one particularly traumatizing scene still resonates with me. I’m a huge fan of “less is more,” and this book is a perfect example of that.
There were a few typos and things like that (currently being fixed), but my eyes just glazed over them – that’s when you know a story is good. I’m usually much more critical of things like that and they would jar me out of the story, but it’s a testament to the writer’s excellent world-weaving and immersion skills that I wasn’t shaken out of the story even once. Seriously, I can’t gush enough about how much I enjoyed this book and can’t wait to read the rest!
Conclusion: As the first installment in a series, Broken Aro does a great job of introducing you to this world of Fey, Dragos, Were, and Elves and leaving you with questions you want answered. I can’t wait to read the next book in the series, and look forward to learning more about the world. Keep a look out for my review of the next one!
About the Author:
Jen Wylie was born and raised in Ontario, Canada. In a cosmic twist of fate she dislikes the snow and cold.
Before settling down to raise a family, she attained a BA from Queens University and worked in retail and sales.
Thanks to her mother she acquired a love of books at an early age and began writing in public school. She constantly has stories floating around in her head, and finds it amazing most people don’t. Jennifer writes various forms of fantasy, both novels and short stories.
Jennifer resides in rural Ontario, Canada with her two boys, Australian shepherd and a disagreeable amount of wildlife.
Check her out on Goodreads and her website!
Interested in reading Broken Aro? Check out the book at the links below:
As always, think happy thoughts!