By Krystal Wade
Published on May 13, 2012
Published by Curiosity Quills Press
Summary from Goodreads:
"There is no pain in this death, only peace, knowing I am going to die with the one I love the most." - Katriona Wilde.
Katriona Wilde has never wondered what it would feel like to have everything she's ever known and loved ripped away, but she is about to find out. When she inadvertently leads her sister and best friend through a portal into a world she's dreamed of for six years, she finds herself faced with more than just the frightening creatures in front of her. Kate's forced to accept a new truth: her entire life has been a lie, and those closest to her have betrayed her. What's worse, she has no control over her new future, and it's full of magic and horrors from which nightmares are made. Will Kate discover and learn to control who she really is in time to save the ones she loves, or will all be lost?
This book starts out in the "real world" with Katriona (Kate) going on a camping trip with her younger sister Brit and her best friend Brad. Things seem normal until Kate starts seeing a strange light in the woods, a light which leads them to an underwater cave. It's not just any cave, though: this one is a portal to a world which Kate has been seeing in her dreams for years. The man of her dreams is there, too. Kate hasn't just been dreaming about this place, she's been dreaming about a man named Arland, so when they meet for real, it's love at first sight, only with a twist.
I feel like Kate was very naive for someone who is supposed to be 20 years old. There were just a lot of things that didn't ring true. It felt like maybe she had been aged up so the steamy scenes with Arland wouldn't be inappropriate, because otherwise, her personality and actions really felt like the way a younger teenager would act, not a college student. I also was a little baffled at how quickly Kate accepts the fact that the dreams she's been having are actually real, and that she's never going to get to return to the "real world". Aside from missing her family, she doesn't have any issues with staying in Encardia forever. Doesn't she have friends, or hobbies, or anything that she would lose by staying? There are also things that just got handwaved away, thanks to magic, which really bothered me. It was also way heavier on the romance and insta-love than I had thought it would be at first. Any plot line which revolves around the heroine discovering that the ~power of love~ is what gives her strength gets a raised eyebrow or two from me.
While this wasn't a perfect book, it was still enjoyable. The storyline and the fight for Encardia were generally enough to keep me engaged, and enough to make me want to check out the sequel. Kate's a strong and capable fighter, and while she's stunningly naive in some ways, she's also self aware enough to know when she's been wallowing or taking her bad mood out on others. She's also kind and gentle, someone who finds it very easy to talk to just about everyone she meets in the book. I really can't wait to see more of Flanna, who is Arland's cousin and who quickly becomes Kate's best friend and confidante. Flanna is very feisty, cheerful and perceptive, and I would probably read a whole book just about her.
Overall, if you can ignore some of the shortcomings -- or if you like your YA fantasy romances to be very heavy on the romance -- then check this one out. I'd recommend it for more mature teens because of the amount of making-out time and talk about sex, as well as some violence.