Book Reviews

Book Review: Glow

Title: Glow
Author: Raven Kennedy
Genre: Fantasy, Romance, Magic, Mythology

What It’s About: People are screaming outside of Ranhold Castle, barely escaping out of it, as the liquid gold bursts through the front door and solidifies. Queen Kaila watches the scene in shock, having barely escaped the quickly liquifying castle with her brother Manu and his husband Keon, and wonders what happened. She had been planning for some time to be the first monarch to bring two kingdoms together through marriage, and have a hand in controlling a third one, so she should be dancing in the ballroom with Midas, celebrating their engagement, not standing outside in the freezing cold. When the gold seems to have solidified and everyone begins to wonder just what has happened, Kaila uses her magic to listen into the conversations. Suddenly, Mist, Midas’ pregnant saddle, bursts forth with a statement that it wasn’t Midas’ doing, but rather that it’s the work of Midas’ gold-touched pet, Auren, who stole his magic. Mist claims that she saw Auren attack Midas as she was running out to save herself, and believes that Auren learned that she could use it for herself. Kaila doesn’t quite believe it because she saw Midas turn a table gold and knew that he turned the ballroom gold, but the gold hadn’t acted as if it was in his control tonight, so she figures that Mist must be right. Someone in the crowd points out that people are fleeing on timberwings, and one man specifically mentions that the gilded murderer is there, alongside King Rot. This makes Mist say that Auren will steal King Rot’s powers too. Queen Kaila decides to bring the crowd under control and sends her brother to find out if King Ravinger ran away with Auren, while Keon is ordered to send soldiers into the ballroom to see if the castle is safe. Ultimately, she wants to see the truth for herself, so she enters the castle with Keon and Manu, seeing the golden carnage, and finds Midas encased in gold. She worries that if Auren was able to steal Midas’ power, she might be able to steal her own, and Kaila cannot allow for that. Manu wonders how she will play all of this, and Kaila decides that she will tell everyone that Auren turned on King Midas, after she had an affair with King Rot and became jealous of Midas’ engagement to her. She also decides that since her engagement was announced publicly, she’ll try to push for control in the Sixth Kingdom, which belonged to Midas, even if the people are still rioting there after murdering their own queen. Along with her brother, they make a plan for the Fifth Kingdom, to find a replacement King that would install as a puppet, who would support them.

Slade has been counting how long it has been since he rotted Auren as he heads out of the Fifth Kingdom on his timberwing, Argo. Auren is too cold, too exposed, and he needs to get her out of this state soon–the longer it goes, the worse it will be to bring her back–but he also needs to get far away enough from Ranhold Castle so her gold doesn’t come alive again. His Wrath follow him, and Slade finds a place to stop to bring Auren out of her state, hoping against hope that he’s not too late. Osrik lays down a cloak, and Slade puts Auren on the cloak, going straight into pulling the rot out of her, to get her back. He focuses on doing this slowly so as not to shock her system, and when he gets close enough to finishing, he realizes that there is a piece of rot that he cannot get out of Auren. He tries in different ways, but he’s not able to get it out, and he’s so guilty, hoping that this won’t hurt Auren in any negative way, but also he’s worried because this is the first time he’s had something like this happen. Despite this, Auren doesn’t wake up, and Digby asks what Slade has done to Auren which in turn leads Slade to panic, resulting in his power going haywire across the area. His brother, Ryatt punches him in the face and tells him to get his shit together because he doesn’t have the luxury of losing control, which Slade does by pulling all of it back in. He then tells everyone that something is wrong, as he’s not able to get all of the pieces of rot back in, which results in Digby coming up to him with a murderous expression and telling him that he told Slade to fix her. Slade tells him that he needs to get her out of the elements and give her rest, even though he is not certain himself if that will be enough, and makes the decision to take her to Deadfall.

Slade remembers when he was eight, his mom called him and he put back a bird in its nest before coming down the tree. She demanded to know what he was doing in the tree, and he claimed that he was monitoring the birds, preferring to climb the tree without the shoes, because they make it slippery. He tells his mom that there was a bird there, but it looked like its mother already left, so he was going to teach it how to fly. His mom was proud of him, telling him that she believes that he can do it. She took his hand but he tugged it away saying that he’s too old for that, but she can hold Ryatt’s hand, and together they walked away from the trees to the estate, which he didn’t want to enter because he preferred to be outdoors. It’s all because of his father, who happened to have shown up early from his trip with the King. Stanton, his father, took one look at Slade, who was dirty from climbing the tree, and told his wife and Slade’s mother, Elore, that she was shirking her motherly duties. Stanton commands her to clean Slade up because they have a guest in twenty minutes, which they do, and they join Stanton at the dining room, where there are three other people. One of those individuals is Uncle Iberik, Stanton’s brother, and two other individuals that he’s never seen before. Slade takes care of Ryatt, making sure to distract his brother so that he doesn’t kick up a fuss at the table as their father is not okay with him being picky. The conversation centers around Oreans coming and going into Annwyn, and Slade takes a look over at his mother, who is Orean herself. The guests ask Elore about her magic, which Stanton doesn’t normally like to talk about, but this time, he lets her show them what she can do–she is a diviner–and to the unknown male guest, named Toby, she says that a red-cloaked bearer shall give him two truths and a lie, but that he will believe the wrong one. Netala, the female guests, wonders aloud what Elore managed to divine about Stanton, which angers him, but the conversation turns back to Elore and how she was one of the last Oreans to have come into Annwyn. Stanton explains that in order to get support for the war, he was given permission to bring in a last batch of Oreans into Annwyn, all of whom make up all of his groundskeepers and servants. They get a long life, but he gets a long-lasting staff. Slade hates the way that his father talks about his mother and their Orean staff. Instead of saying anything, Slade takes a bite of two portions of the meal, but they taste off to him, while the conversation keeps going. At one point Netala makes a comment that Stanton is one of the most powerful fae in the kingdom, known as The Breaker, because his magic is able to break anything, which can be scary. Finally, they get excused, and their mother takes them to bed.

Slade continues racing against the storm all the way to Deadwell, leaving Argo to navigate the way himself, because he has to hold onto Auren in the storm, which is leaving cold temperatures, and suffocating dark. They make it to Deadwell in the morning, and Slade is glad that this piece of land is finally under his control, making him in the Fourth territory, in safety. Argo manages to navigate them through the cracks in the mountain, and into Drollard Village, which doesn’t look anything like a town as it is built into and under the mountain. The village is nothing special, but one that doesn’t seem to exist because Slade made it so. The people live off of this bleak land, while he tries to bring in supplies to ensure their survival, because no one can really leave the village. Slade takes Auren to his own house, with Ryatt’s help–because Ryatt has followed him to Drollard Village, even though Slade didn’t ask him to do so.

When Slade was eight, Ryatt (age 3) had come to him in the tree, and together they went in search of food. Instead, they find their father hitting their mother, and in anger and hate, Slade pushes their father to stop him from hurting her, but is confused when the whole wall falls down. He’s also surprised that the grass is pale, and dead-like underneath him, though their mother is protected and safe. Finally he realizes that he has spikes coming out of his arms, back and face, and his father is so proud of him for finally having the powers manifest–though most of the fae powers manifest when they turn fifteen. Slade is heartbroken because he thinks he’s like his father, destroying things, but his mom tells him that he’s someone that protects things, which Slade promises to do to her.

Slade brings Auren into their home in the Grotto, sets her on the couch, undresses her from her wet clothing and tries to get her to wake up, while Ryatt gets the fire started and goes to the kitchen. Lu and Digsby also show up, which surprises Slade, but Digsby tells him that he stays with Auren, and Slade doesn’t argue back about that, though the two get into a verbal disagreement about why Auren is not waking up. Slade then takes out his anger on Ryatt for asking questions about the remaining Rot in Auren and whether she will wake up. Lu gives Slade socks to put on Auren, and then Lu and Ryatt head off to light up fires in the different rooms. When Lu comes back, they talk about her joining the army in the Fourth Kingdom–how she had gone up to him and told him that the Captain of his army was useless, and he gave her a uniform, put her through training, resulting in her now being the Captain of the right flank. She tells Slade that Auren will wake up because he’s managed to take her, Osrik and Judd and turn them into someone different than they were prior to knowing him.

At age eight, after his powers came in, Slade began to train with his father to control his magic, and got more sparring training from a teacher name Cado. He would train for hours and hours because his father wants him to learn control, though Slade mentions that he is tired. Elore shows up and tells Stanton that Slade is tired, that he’s young and that they are training him too hard, as most fae don’t even get their powers in until they are fifteen. Uncle Iberik tells her that fae are built differently than Oreans, to which Elore reminds them that Slade is half Orean anyways. Slade says that he’s ok, but Elore decides not to leave without him, and directly disobeys Stanton, which pisses him off as he doesn’t like disobedience in front of others. This in turn causes Slade’s powers to show up, and Stanton accuses him of not trying hard enough. Slade states that he does try, to which Stanton says that he needs to learn to control magic and that he will make him proud. As a result, Slade feels like he doesn’t make Stanton proud, and his mother tells him later on when they are alone that he always makes her proud, and that he will be good, because he already is good.

Slade fell asleep, and along with Ryatt is jerked awake by Judd coming in through the door at the Grotto. Judd brings Hojat with him, which fills Slade with gratitude. Hojat looks over Auren, tells them that she’s resting, assures Slade that the leftover piece of rot isn’t doing any damage, and checks her injuries on her back. Slade moves her so that Hojat may do the inspection, but is so shocked and hurt by the damage to her back and the beautiful ribbons that she had. Hojat begins to order everyone around, having her moved to a different room so that he can better take care of her and her injuries, before heading over and looking at Digsby.

Osrik returned to the Fourth’s army in Ranhold, and forces the army to pack up and get out, even in the middle of the cold and the storm. When they finally make it to the mountains to give themselves some protection from the storm, Keg, the cook, comes to find Osrik and takes him to a tent with two women, who turn out to be Rissa and Polly. Rissa and Osrik get into a heated discussion because he doesn’t like disloyalty, which he thinks she was towards Auren, while she is a saddle who gets used and judged, so she doesn’t believe that she has the ability to come from a moral high grounds like others in order to survive. Their conversation results in Osrik being attracted to Rissa, but he gets upset when she starts to undress in the midst of their argument, stating that this is what men want–for her to pay them with sex–and gets doubly angry when she flinches as he tries to cover her up, because flinching is a learnt response, meaning that she had been hit before. He covers her up, tells her that he doesn’t take advantage of women, but if they fuck it will be because she wants to make it happen, and adds that he will send them clothes.

Back in Deadwell, it’s been four days since Auren has been put to sleep, and she’s still waking up. Ryatt comes into the bedroom, tells Slade to get out of the room and expel some of his power so that he won’t explode and kill all of Deadwell. So Slade leaves with Argos in the middle of the snowstorm, and expels a lot of power around Deadwell, enough to take the edge off. When he returns, one of the villagers tells him that Judd and Lu had gone up in timberwings to search for him, causing Slade to run all the way back to the Grotto, barreling right into Hojat who tells him that Auren isn’t awake but her gold has been spilling all over the place.

In the meantime, back at Ranhold City, Queen Kaila sits through the funeral procession for the Prince of Fifth Kingdom. Along with her brother, and Keon they have settled on Hagan Fulke, a twenty year old man, who is the son of King Fulke’s cousin once removed, because he’s shy and was willing to do whatever he was told as long as he was backed to be the king. The Queen believes that he will be the perfect person to mold and guide into having the best interest of the Third and Fifth Kingdoms in mind. Kaila loves the fact that the people of the Fifth Kingdom gossip a lot, because it has become so useful for her–they gossip about the death of the Prince, the death of King Midas, the Sixth Kingdom, and also about her. The gossip has spread through messenger hawks across Orea, and she and Manu have confirmed the narrative, which leads Kaila to believe that she will be able to get what she wants in Sixth Kingdom and solidify her alliance in the Fifth Kingdom. When the procession ends, and they head back to the Castle, Kaila reveals that the voices that she’s captured are showing or saying anything different than what they’ve expected–the nobles of Ranhold City are sad about Prince Nieven because he was a born prince, and they have readily accepted that Auren tricked Ravinger into killing the prince, or she poisoned him herself. After all the Prince didn’t even look like himself after the events in the Ballroom, so they’re not sure if he was really poisoned or rotted. The three of them attend the formal, and Kaila listens to everyone before giving a speech about making Hagan Fulke the king the following day, but also puts on a show that she lost her betrothed that day in the castle, and ends by saying that it is important that they all unite against the golden traitor. She then announces that Auren has fled the kingdom and is trying to trick King Rot just like she tricked King Midas, so she will call for a royal Conflux, because she believes Auren should answer for her crimes.

Slade runs to his room, finds Auren in a pool of gold, and tries to wake her up, to no avail. Instead, he wraps her in blankets and takes her out of the house, away from the village so that she doesn’t gild them, with the help of Ryatt and Digby. Then he takes her out of the house, past the village and up near the Perch, to a cave where she finally wakes up. Except that it is not her who wakes up, and then she attacks him. Slade manages to barely avoid her, and then continues to bide his time, talking to her, and avoiding her attacks. He turns into his fae form, and gives her permission to fight him, which Auren does. But he’s able to avoid her because he knows how to read her, and that gets her frustrated enough that she finally does get in a hit, before having the gold freeze him in place. He kisses her instead, and they’re back to fighting, except this time, Auren launches herself at him, trying to devour him. He uses this opportunity to get Auren to come back out by calling to her, and when she finally does come out, they have sex. Afterwards, Auren freaks out about what she had done, in horror, saying that she became a monster, to which Slade tells her that she became a Fae.

Auren recalls everything that she had gone through on the night of the ballroom, and she cannot face it. Over time, she begins to train with Judd, which she struggles with because she no longer has her ribbons. When Slade realizes that she had grown accustomed to the wait of the ribbons to help support her, Judd helps her train differently to get accustomed to move without the ribbons. Slowly but surely, her injuries on her back heal, and she gets more comfortable with fighting, but is not willing to face her magic. Slade and Auren do talk about the night when her ribbons were hacked off, and he reveals that he had been called into meetings with King Midas that day, so he couldn’t go find her when she didn’t show up at the library as they planned. Eventually, Lu takes her out onto the town, and Auren finds the town odd, but Lu is unable to tell her much about it because it’s not her secret to tell. While they are out and about, Auren hears Slade and Ryatt having an argument about her, that she should be gone, and that Slade hasn’t told her about someone else. This is when Auren finds out that Slade had gotten a hold of Midas’s spies and rotted one of them to find out what they knew about Deadwell. Then, Slade takes her to a different house within a cave, to a woman that she finds out is his mother, Elore. They spend some time with Elore, who cannot speak at all to them.

It is then that Slade reveals how he became Rip. His father had come home one night, and found out that Elore had been having an affair with one of the Orean workers on the estate. No one wanted to come forward to say who it was or how long the affair has been going on, though Jak came to Elore’s defense, and ended up getting killed for it by Stanton. It is then that Ryatt ran over to Jak calling him “dad” that it became clear that the affair had been going on for long enough for Ryatt to actually be the product of that affair. This pisses off Stanton, and he attempts to hurt Elore, but Slade stands up for them–resulting in a fight between Slade and Stanton, where the raw power that Slade uses causes a rip in the fabric between Annwyn and Orea. It takes Elore, some of the Orean servants, Slade and Ryatt to Orea, into the place where Drollard Village exists. They find out over time that most of the Orean servants cannot leave the village–their lives depends on the proximity to the Rip in the worlds–if they leave, they die. The only ones who can leave are Slade, Ryatt and any child born in Drollard Village, though they try to get them out of the town after a certain age, for fear that the closeness to the rip will make them dependent upon it. Slade has to come to Drollard every so often to let go of some of his raw power to keep the portal basically standing, otherwise it will fall apart and destroy everyone. Some people have attempted to go through the portal but it’s unclear if they survived or not. Slade also revealed that he joined the Fourth’s Army to protect the village, and when he could, he challenged the King of the Fourth Kingdom to take over his crown, which he won.

During that time, Auren also finds out that the other kingdoms have been asking for Slade to make an appearance and demanding to give her up. Slade tells her that he hasn’t done anything about it because he wants it to be up to her–up to her when she wants to face the world, but he won’t do it without making sure that she’s able to control some of her magic. So Auren decides to start practicing her magic one early morning in the cave where she woke up. She reconnects with her fae nature, and finds it easy to get back in touch with it, after which she gets Slade’s help to learn how to control it. By the time she’s ready to head out to the Fourth Kingdom, she’s able to let the gold out of herself, get the gold back into herself, and control its viscosity.

Eventually they get back to Brackhill Castle, and Auren settles in, gets all of the freedom to wander around the castle. Also Slade takes her out into the city to see it, though there’s an unsettling moment when someone shares the rumor about Auren–the gold-touched whore that stole Midas’ magic, and is now here to steal King Ravinger’s magic as well. At first Auren wants to hide, but then she decides that she won’t let it get to her. They wander around the city, and Slade gets her a few pieces of jewelry telling her to gild it so that she can always have some gold on her in order to use after dark–while she can’t bring gold forward after the sun sets, she can still manipulate it, which he feels gives her the chance to fight back if anything ever happens. Osrik also returns to Brackhill Castle with Rissa and Polly in tow, and tension building up between him and Rissa from the trek back. Still, it’s not good news because the Royal Conflux has been asking for Slade to hand Auren over, but he refuses to do that, so they are preparing for battle, while also getting low in provisions. Trade with some of the other kingdoms have fallen through in order to pressure him into handing Auren over, though he refuses to do so. Ryatt argues with him that maybe he should let her go there and save them the headache, so they end up butting heads even more. As Auren gets included into the conversations, she asks Slade if he ever considered retiring Rip so that Ryatt could be his own man, his own commander of the army rather than hiding in Slade’s shadow or pretending to be Commander Rip when Slade has to be the king.

Eventually, Manu shows up to the Fourth Kingdom, and asks them to consider sending Auren to the Royal Conflux, even going as far as meeting up with her in private and telling her that it’s all for show; that she’ll get a slap on the wrist and they can go back to doing whatever. Auren never gets a chance to talk to Slade about it because she falls asleep after they have sex and when she wakes up later, he’s gone to meet with his commanders to see what they can do to prepare. Instead, she takes a walk with Rissa and a guard following her, when they are attacked by someone–the guard is shot, Auren is rendered unconscious so she’s unable to do much to fight back, and Rissa is also shot but manages to barely be alive. Manu apologizes to Auren that he had no choice, before she falls into darkness. Slade returns to the commotion in the castle, so with his Wrath by his side, he goes to check it out. Osrik nearly loses his shit when he sees Rissa, but she manages to hold on long enough for them to get her into a room and operate on her. Slade sees something in the grass, but it’s not until he makes it back to his room and find Auren missing that he realizes that she’s gone. In anger, he tells Ryatt that he got his wish on Auren being taken to the Royal Conflux, even after having granted Ryatt the role of the Commander of the Armies during conversations earlier, and chases after them. He never manages to catch up, and his timberwing, Argos is shot down from the sky into the sand dunes outside of the Second Kingdom.

Auren is taken to Wallmont Castle of the Second Kingdom, where Queen Isolte informs her that she’s to get ready for the Conflux. The Queen is the Matron of the temple, as the kingdom is full of religious zealots. Auren decides she doesn’t want to go to face the Conflux, and attempts to use her magic, but ends up feeling like she’s being pinched. Turns out the Queen is able to make her feel pain, and tells her that every time Auren uses something that isn’t hers, she will feel the pinching. Isolte goes as far as to call her Lady Cheat, to which Auren doesn’t take kindly, especially when the queen asks her if she steal, kill and trick. At first, Auren tries to resist, but the pinching is very painful, so she gives up, trying her best to acquiesce as far as she can to get out the other way alive, to find a way to use her magic and fight her way out. But Isolte has her ladies in the Gathering of Temperance temple put Auren through a Cleansing, and then has her walk barefoot through the heated ground to a cage in front of six thrones, two of which are empty–the fourth kingdom’s and the sixth’s kingdom’s. The Cage is made up of runes that make her power drip out of her slowly, giving her no control over it, which is enough to help lend credence to the rumor that she is stealing people’s power, because her gold comes out with some black–some of the rot from King Rot. The Conflux proceeds, and Queen Kaila stands up to speak, also using her power to twist some of the words that she captured from Auren’s conversations with others, making Auren look guiltier than she was. Ultimately, the Conflux decides that Auren is guilty and sentence her to death.

Before they are able to do anything further to carry out the sentence, Slade shows up and tries to break Auren out of the cage. He tries to threaten the other kings, but they are protected by the magic of the Second Kingdom’s Prince, so he’s not able to get through to them. Auren is running out of time, her gold filling up the cage, so Slade does the one thing that he can think of–creates a rip in the fabric and tells Auren to jump through it. She tells him to find her in another time/life, and goes through, so Slade holds onto the rip for as long as he can, unsure whether Auren ended up safely wherever she went. In the meantime, the prince collapses, and Slade threatens them, but Ryatt catches up to him, and the two of them fly out to Deadwell, because Slade wants to get through to the other side where Auren is. In his rush to get to the rip, he doesn’t realize that the town is dead quiet, only finding out that the rip is missing when he arrives at its location. No one, not even Elore is in the town any longer, presumably gone along with the rip to wherever he sent Auren, and he is no longer able to access that raw power that he needs to either create or maintain the rip.

While all of this is happening, Queen Malina heads towards the seventh kingdom with Pruinn. She finds the castle at first empty, but then twins in the Seventh Kingdom find her and say that she’s the queen that has been foretold. They tell her that they can make her dreams come true at the next moon in a few days, and the whole castle is absolutely restored to its former glory–as if the decrepit building was nothing but a mirage to keep people away. The assassin hired by Midas has followed her to the castle and tells her to stop smelling the flowers and wake up before she seriously causes further damage. Malina disregards him, and goes through with the plan, meeting the twins by the edge of the seventh kingdom. They go through with the ritual, cut her hand, and with her blood, they restore the bridge of Lemuria, which Malina recognizes a little too late, when she hears the steps of thousands of people crossing the bridge. The Twins and Pruinn turn into fae creates, with Pruinn telling the twins that he was right about Malina being the one to get them what they needed to get the bridge connected. The twins mention that now the fae will take over all of Orea and make it theirs.

My Thoughts: I absolutely loved this book, as a continuation of the series, though I really wish that Auren would finally become a badass warrior that she can be, without leaning on Slade. I’m so tired of seeing her be saved time and time again in every book, because I feel like she can be so much more than what she is. Even though Slade saving her is good for the romance part of the story, I just want her to stand on her two own feet, to bare her teeth and fight alongside him as a partner, rather than someone reliant on him to save her. Outside of that, I loved the story, and how Auren learns to control her powers, the background we find out on Slade, and how he saves her by doing the one thing that he did to save his mother, even though it essentially means that he loses Auren forever….or does he? With the Bridge of Lemuria being restored between the Seventh Kingdom and Annwyn, along with the threat that the fae will take over Orea, what will the next book in the series bring? Will Auren find her way back to Slade through the bridge, and will she discover who she is and who her parents were?

I’m excited to see the next book in this series because this was just so good–with the background on Slade, and the present day relationship between them, as Auren and Slade learn to work together and live together.


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