A spicy fantasy with original worldbuilding and a kick-ass protagonist, ideal for Hunger Games fans.
Dawsyn was born into a struggling community of people trapped on the side of a freezing mountain, where the only options seem to be plummeting into the chasm below or getting plucked and carried off by one of the Glacians — cruel, winged, humanoid creatures with poisonous venom. But when she manages to escape against all the odds, with the help of a hunky half-Glacian with hidden motives, Dawsyn finally gets the chance to rewrite the destiny of her people.
With an atmospheric premise to rival The Hunger Games, Ledge gets off to a brilliant start. The world-building immerses the reader into Dawsyn’s universe from the beginning, and with her village set on the face of a towering mountain, the stakes are soaring from the first page. Literally.
The characters are well-crafted and satisfying, with many of them offering surprising revelations into their true personalities and motives as the plot goes on. With her courage, resolve, and audacity, Dawsyn in particular is a strong protagonist. Though there’s no shortage of axe-wielding female leads in new adult fantasy at the moment, we could never have too many heroines like Dawsyn, who couldn’t be further from a damsel in distress. Gold Coast-based author Stacey McEwan also masterfully crafted the cold itself to serve as a character in the story, antagonising Dawsyn with its icy powers throughout her journey.
The pace slows down after Dawsyn and Ryon escape from the Glacians, and though the action never falters, the tension seems to settle a little after this point. The romantic arc becomes one of the main focuses as the relationship between Dawsyn and Ryon develops slowly. If you’re a fan of the classic genre tropes, including enemies to lovers, forced proximity, and domineering male love interests, there’s plenty here to keep you hooked. There are also several steamy scenes that momentarily boost up the tension again after it lapses in the second half of the story.
McEwan manages to write using original, succinct, and creative prose without ever letting her words become too flowery or cheesy, even in the romantic scenes. While the story lost some tension once Dawsyn and Ryon had escaped from the Glacians, the creativity and originality of McEwan’s world kept me reading until the end.
Overall, this is a dream read for lovers of spicy new adult stories with a unique premise and all the must-have staples of commercial fantasy.
Reviewed by Vanessa Elle
This review is the opinion of the reviewer and not necessarily of Glam Adelaide.
Distributed by: Penguin Books Australia
Released: September 2022