Book Review: Borrowed Magic by @shari_lambert

Borrowed Magic

Author: Shari Lambert
Publisher: Shari Lambert
Published: January 30th, 2016
Pages: 287
Audience: YA
Genre: Fantasy, Sword & Sorcery

Source: I received a copy of this book from Xpresso Book Tours in exchange for an honest review.


Blurb:

After a three-year siege, Lord Kern, the dark mage, is dead. Magic has left Tredare, and life is almost back to normal. 

For everyone except Maren, that is.

Before the siege, an attack by Lord Kern left Maren near death and with a sliver of magic buried deep inside her. Now, for reasons Maren doesn’t understand, that magic has been triggered, giving her the ability to “see” the truth: that her world is nothing more than a magical façade; and that the kingdom’s hero may not be a hero at all.

But this gift of sight comes at a high cost. Maren is in constant pain, and fears her own death is imminent. Plus, no one believes her suspicions that another Dark Mage has risen, and that Tredare may be in just as much danger as it was when Kern was alive. 

With the country’s future in the hands of a man who’s vowed revenge on its king, Maren must convince someone else of the truth. Unfortunately, the only person powerful enough to help is also the one man she can’t trust; the man she almost married; the man who abandoned her and disappeared for three years: Kern’s son.

As Tredare crumbles around them, Maren must persuade him to help - before the king is murdered by the very hero he reveres; and before the same magic that gives Maren the gift of sight also takes her life.


My Review:

Not many books keep me on the edge of my seat, but Borrowed Magic’s nerve-wracking plot and unrelenting heroine was the perfect recipe for just that.

The story starts after a three-year war against the dark mage Kern. Maren, our heroine, is the King and Queen’s closest friend and is nervously awaiting the return of her childhood friend, Phillip, whom she hasn’t seen since he left Maren confused and broken-hearted. When Phillip returns with fellow war hero and mystery-man Teige, who makes Maren uncomfortable – in more than one way. She discovers that not everything is what it seems and becomes a pawn in a deadly game.

“Respect, over time, could transform into love and sincere devotion. It would make people follow a leader without questions, trusting in him not to lead them astray.” – Borrowed Magic, Shari Lambert

I’ll tell the truth. The story started off kind of weird. You were thrown into a conversation between the Queen and Maren without context and I don’t think anything said was explained later. However, once Phillip and Teige arrived, the plot moved along at a steady, building pace that put my emotions through the ringer.

Lamberts prose was on point – it was polished and vivid.

“That’s what poetry is,” she said, running her hand over the well-worn cover. “Truth in beautiful words.” – Borrowed Magic, Shari Lambert

One of my biggest pet-peeves in literature is a weak heroine. I want the girls I read about to be flawed, but strong of character and Lambert delivered when she wrote Maren. Maren is a different type of heroine – she a lady, grew up in a castle, and lives in a society where woman do not have leadership roles. She’s not a warrior/ bad-ass. HOWEVER, that doesn’t negate her strength. Maren is intelligent – the King’s friend and trusted adviser (although in a non-official capacity). She is sweet, kind, and gracious to all those around her even Lady Kira – the castle mean girl – and even those she find’s unsavory.

Maren’s struggles throughout the story are hard and although she succumbs to A LOT, she doesn’t go down without a fight. Sometimes her self-preservation is non-existent and I wanted to scream at her, but even though I felt that there were times she could have saved herself pain, I don’t feel her character would allow even an ounce of selfishness when her loved ones are involved. I simply adored how Maren - who isn’t your typical heroine -was integral to saving the kingdom.

Phillip is a brooding Lord with an interesting history that you discover well into the story. He was the one who found the soldiers and trained them in order to finish the war against Kern – although Phillip was the one to put a sword in his heart. Phillip and Maren have a long history – they loved each other since childhood. Yet, when Phillip discovers a secret that he thinks Maren kept from him, they part after a series of hurtful words were spoken.

“She’d always wondered about girls who cried over a broken heart. Now she understood. It was something intangible that she couldn’t explain. But it brought with it a physical pain that shot through her chest and robbed her of breath.” – Borrowed Magic, Shari Lambert

I won’t lie and say that didn’t bother me because it soooooo did and Maren’s continuous declarations of wanting Phillip to trust her were echoes of what I was thinking. Yet, I completely understood both sides and their reactions. They were young and when they meet again after 3 years and a devastating war, they were both changed. Their love story is beautifully woven throughout a gristly tale. Both characters growth is immense and they have plenty of hardship, but love is never an easy road.

“She recognized the feel of his arms and the sound of his voice, but is was more than that. She recognized him.” – Borrowed Magic, Shari Lambert

Lambert is a master at building your anticipation and tearing your heart out to where you felt there was no happy ending in sight. Although I adored this book, the ending felt rushed. There were a few emotional points that I felt were skipped over that didn’t rise to the standard Lambert started the book with.

If you are a fan of medieval fantasy with mages, a monarchy that you would be happy to live under, a heroine that is selfless and brave, and a deep plot that demands your attention then look no further than Borrowed Magic.