Pinpricks of light drifted through her mind as she moved closer to losing consciousness. Nothing could save her now; there was no hope. She gave herself up to the churning waters and waited for death.
Disowned by Sarah Addison-Fox is the first book in the Allegiance Series. Set in the country ‘Etraea’, it follows main character Celeste, an escaped slave of a neighboring country, as she attempts to navigate this new land, and the family that has taken her in at their own risk.
I wasn’t sure what to expect with this book, and I was pleasantly surprised at how engrossing I found it. The point of view narration jumps around between a few characters, Celeste probably only gets to tell about half of the book. Rather than confuse, this seemed to help. Celeste is an escaped Kyraenean slave and, as such, has a limited perspective when it comes to all things Etraean. Getting into the heads of Maggie (a warm mothering figure), Mick (Maggie’s son, and also an Etraean soldier), and some of the other supporting characters helps the reader navigate these unknown lands guided by both the experts and the just learning.
I was fascinated by the cultural differences between the two countries, and wanted to learn more about Celeste’s past experiences. Her character is understandably closed off and guarded throughout the story. It was slightly frustrating, as the reader, not to be able to understand her better, yet it made sense considering her background and escape. My hopes in this regard, are high for the next book in the series. No spoilers, but the place where this book leaves off leads me to believe we are going to get the full experience of Celeste in Book 2.
The supporting cast of characters feel well-developed and all have important roles to play. Celeste hasn’t had a family of her own in far too long, so Mick’s family fills out her own with mother, father, sister and brother. Of course, being that he is a few years older than her, adult and they are not related, there is an attraction that develops fairly early on. I love a good romantic subplot as much, if not more, than the next reader, so I enjoyed this development.
Naturally, being that these are young characters in a YA novel, they do have The Big Misunderstanding, but in a refreshing twist, they don’t stomp their feet, whine and pout about it for the rest of the book (alright, Mick did a little whining- but he had a few drinks first, so it was totally natural).
The pacing of this novel was interesting in it that it was somewhat slow, but that didn’t irritate me. I was enjoying getting to know the characters and the land as the stakes were very gradually revealed. Rather than Book 1, it really felt like Part 1. The ending is an excellent leave off point that will have you wishing it was February and the next book, Dissemble, was already in your hands.
I enjoyed the use of faith & religion in this book. “Etra” is a stand in or pseudonym for our concept of God, and the Haynes family are devoutly religious. What I liked about this was that they felt like a real Christian family, they argue and fight and struggle with humanness, but at the end they forgive, love and keep striving for the Godly. I am curious to see how these Christian concepts are used going forward into the rest of the series, especially the next book (spoilers!).
This wasn’t a short book, but it was a quick read. I had planned to give myself a whole week to read it (short sprints, you know) but ended up finishing it in a night & a half. And yes, I was very tired going to work the first morning.
If you’re on the fence about reading this one, allow me to push you over. And what better time than now, with the sequel set to come out next month?
Or, head on over to Sarah’s website to see what she is up to next…
Want to know what I’m reading next? Follow me on Goodreads, and stalk my “Up-Next, On-Deck” shelf!