Book Review

Review: Nocturna by Maya Motayne

35561260. sy475 Rating: 2 out of 5 hoots

Published: May 7 2019

Number of pages: 480

Format: hardcover

Publisher: Balzer + Bray

Genre: fantasy, romance

Audience: young adult

Get it at: Chapters Indigo

Shelve it at: Goodreads


Set in a Latinx-inspired world, a face-changing thief and a risk taking prince must team up to stop the most powerful evil they accidentally unleashed.

Meet Finn Voy: a thief who can hold a knife under your chin faster than she can change her disguise. As a talented faceshifter, Finn has not seen her own face for many years and she enjoys it. But after caught by a mobster, Finn is forced into stealing a legendary treasure hidden away in the royal palace’s vault, or else be stripped of her power forever.

Meet Prince Alfehr: a young prince full of grief since the murder of his older brother, he is first in line for the Castallan throne. But Alfie can’t help but feel that he will never live up to his brother’s legacy. Obsessed on bringing his brother back, Alfie finds a way even if it means fiddling with forbidden magic.

But after Finn and Alfie’s paths collide, they accidentally unlock an ancient dark power imprisoned for centuries, which if not contained, will devour the world. And with Castallan’s fate in their hands, Alfie and Finn must vanquish what they unleashed before it devours the entire city.

My Review:

An advanced reading copy was received from the publisher in exchange for an honest review

After I finished reading, I realized that I read a book like this before. V.E. Schwab fans have commented on Goodreads how this book bears too much resemblance to A Darker Shade of Magic, and they are right. It was like reading A Darker Shade of Magic but in a Latinx-inspired world. I don’t mind authors borrowing ides off of each other, but this story was too much like ADSOM, even the characters were strikingly familiar.

Finn Voy is Delilah Bard, a cut throat thief who takes everything for herself and after suffering from child abuse, she learned the hard way never to trust anyone and spent the rest of her years surviving on her own. With her propiro (that’s what they call magic) Finn is a face changer, shifting from one face to another, blending in and escaping without leaving any trace. She truly is a great thief with her tongue and cheek attitude and stealthiness, until Finn runs into Prince Alfie in an unlikely situation which suddenly turns awry for both them and the whole entire city.

Before running into Finn, Prince Alfie was expected to be the next heir to the throne after his dear old brother, Dez was assassinated. Overwhelmed with grief Alfie is still convinced that there is a way to bring his brother back, whereas everyone else in San Cristobal believe that Dez is gone for good. Now you cannot declare someone dead if the body is never found, and if Dez disappeared in a black void then isn’t there a possibility that he might be in another place, possibly in a dimension somewhere? Nobody knows where that void leads to so there is a chance that Alfie is right, and that Dez just landed somewhere. Which explains why he is so determined to find a bunch of books teaching forbidden magic, until he smacks into Finn. After an awkward moment of sparring each other, the two accidentally come face to face with a returning foe who wants to swallow Castallan into shadow and oblivion.

Now we have a prince and a thief running across the city, as they improvise a plan to lock away this shadow before it harms anyone else, and before Alfie’s parents found out what he had done. Alfie was careless to even trust this faceless entity which clearly shows that he doesn’t think how his actions can turn into consequences but later on, he learns his lesson the hard way, and tries desperately to put things right again. It bothers me that right in the beginning, Alfie doesn’t take his responsibility of ruling a kingdom very seriously at a time when his people need him the most. I understand his grief of loosing his brother but you would think he could at least try to be a good ruler instead of choosing to neglect his duties.

As seen in YA fantasy, there is romance in here that is very settle and doesn’t take over the plot. There are small moments of chemistry build up between the characters after they get to know each other first. I didn’t mind the romance at all. What I did mind was how this story was leaning too close to A Darker Shade of Magic. Even the bromance between Alfie and his friend Luka is almost like Kell and Rhy’s friendship as Alfie makes it his responsibility to watch over Luka like a brother, and rescue him after hell breaks loose inside the palace. And in return, Luka makes it his business to look out for Alfie and the choices he makes for himself and how they affect others. I think people who haven’t read V. E. Schwab might have a better time enjoying this book then I did.

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