Black Dawn, Mallory McCartney Book Review

I feel like a few weeks ago this book was everywhere. Maybe it was just one of those times where I was accidentally following all of the blogs on a book tour? At any rate, when the opportunity to read Black Dawn arose I thought I’d better see what all the fuss was about. So let’s delve into my thoughts and feelings on this YA fantasy novel!

Goodreads Summary: 

The end of an Empire, The rise of a Queen

Emory Fae enjoys leading a quiet, normal life. That is until two mysterious, and handsome soldiers show up at her apartment, and the life she knew is instantly whisked away. Memphis Carter and Brokk Foster come from the magical and war ridden world of Kiero, and upon Emory’s arrival she will discover she is the long lost heir to the Royal Line and is thrown into the Black Dawn Rebellion with a dynamic role to ignite the rebels and reclaim her throne.

With both men being darkly woven in her past Emory uncovers hidden secrets, a power held long dormant, and will soon realize there are worse things than supernatural humans, love, loss, betrayal, and a Mad King.

Some things are better left in the shadows.

I’ll start by saying that this is very clearly the first book in a series. What I mean by that is that it sets up a lot of things that aren’t ever pulled into any kind of conclusion. I know some people (myself included) aren’t huge fans of loose ends so I thought it would be good to mention that this story is nowhere near an ending by the end of this book (is that a spoiler? I don’t think so?).

Right, let’s pare this back to the basic elements. We’ve got Emory, who has been taken (back) from the human world and is gradually getting her memories of being the heir to the fae throne back. She is a Leech which essentially makes her like Rogue in the X-Men, she’s able to steal powers while in physical contact with other people.

We have an evil king and a group of rebels opposing him. We have potential for treachery around every corner and we have a few viable love interests one of which can shapeshift into some kind of wolf-like creature.


So I’m going to set aside my dissatisfaction at the lack of an ending because that’s not a fair assessment of the book and if I had the sequel I would probably feel differently.

It’s not often that my main criticism is that a book is too short. I’m far more likely to complain about a book that drags on and on. But in this case I think it would have been helpful to have developed some of the ideas before bringing the threads together. I want to know more about Emory’s life in the human world and I want to see more of the cruelty of the leaders in the fae world and the gradual despair of the resistance. Think about Prince Caspian, for example, in that we don’t get the Pevensies until the action in Narnia has been fully established and it makes the emergence of the children so much more poignant. Without being given proper context it’s hard to get to grips with a story and understand why you’re supposed to care about things. I think, if this book had taken a similar approach it would have been much better.

Another issue I had was the romance. While I don’t think the romance was badly written, it just felt a little bit tacked on at the last minute. It neatly avoids instalove by pulling in the idea that there had been something from long before but it still feels like instalove when you read it and that makes it feel very insincere. Again, had this idea had the time to develop that it really needed that could have been a beautiful plot.

I feel like every paragraph I write is going to come back to that same point. The characters needed more time to develop, the story ideas equally so, the setting, the plot, it just all needed more time and more effort. I think it was this that made the whole book feel fairly shallow and immaterial. You don’t get invested in it because there’s not a whole lot to get invested in.

On a positive note, because this is someone’s creation I’m critiquing and I like to talk about happy things, it is pleasant to read partly because it is so light. There have been a lot of books I have read of late that have left me worn out and this refreshed me somewhat. Equally, I do think the concepts were sound, the idea of two worlds, of sacrifice, of rediscovering a lost identity. All of these are great foundations on which to build a story.

It may be that the later title(s) in this series give me that development I needed from this book, only time will tell. For now, if you’re looking for a light YA fantasy read I recommend looking into Black Dawn.

My rating: 3/5 stars

By the way, I received a digital advanced review copy of this book from the publisher via netgalley in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.

What do you think? Have you read Black Dawn and do you agree or disagree with my criticisms? Let me know in the comments below!

Can’t wait to hear from you!


You might also like:

The Last Ever After

The Hawkweed Legacy

2 thoughts on “Black Dawn, Mallory McCartney Book Review

Add yours

  1. I was in a blog tour for this book, and I feel the same way about it. It’s definitely a debut novel, but Mallory gives you some good tidbits and scenes. But I wasn’t expecting the plot twist with Brokk, and I hope it isn’t true because I got romantic vibes from him and Emory.

    Liked by 1 person

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