The Mark of the Tala by Jeffe Kennedy is the first book in the Twelve Kingdoms Series and I’m not quite sure what to say about it. I don’t have any “oh my gosh” moments to start out this review. But, in defense of The Mark of the Tala, I am coming off of the third book in another fantasy series by Jeffe (Rogue’s Paradise due out in October) and because that was an Epic book for me, The Mark of the Tala sort of lives in it’s shadow. While I try NOT to compare books, it happens. That being said, I truly enjoyed The Mark of the Tala and I am looking forward to reading the other books in the series.
The first books in a series can be hard because there is a lot of foundation to lay to set up the series. In The Mark of the Tala, we learn a lot about Princess Andromeda (Andi) and Rayfe as well as Andi’s father and sisters. Because of that, the beginning was a little slow for me. I understood the need for it and was thankful for the knowledge by the end because it really showed the path Andi had to take to get to Annfwn. Things really took off about a third of the way in when Andi finally made her decision to not just sit around and wait for something to happen. After that, I couldn’t stop reading.
As with other characters in Jeffe’s stories, the heroine is always of strong mind. While Andi deals with insecurities and self-doubt as all of us women do, she is also a little stubborn and makes up her own mind about things. She does not blindly follow anyone, which I like that about her, as does the hero, Rayfe. I don’t think he realized what he was getting in Andi but she is more than he could ever imagine. My favorite parts of the story were by far the interactions between Rayfe and Andi. Not just the intimate scenes either. While those were fitting for the story and characters, I enjoyed watching Rayfe teach her things but also give Andi the freedom to learn on her own. He has a lot of faith in her. Their love story is not typical, but very satisfying to read.
I enjoyed several aspects of the fantasy in this story, one being the shape shifting. The shifting in The Mark of the Tala is different than in other books I have read. The reasons behind the shift and the animals the humans shift into is really clever and made it more exciting. The ending to The Mark of the Tala was quite interesting and not expected. The next book is set up perfectly and I really can’t wait to see what is in store for the rest of the series. If you enjoy fantasy romance, I recommend you give The Mark of the Tala a try.
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About the Book:
The tales tell of three sisters, daughters of the high king. The eldest, a valiant warrior-woman, heir to the kingdom. The youngest, the sweet beauty with her Prince Charming. No one says much about the middle princess, Andromeda. Andi, the other one.
Andi doesn’t mind being invisible. She enjoys the company of her horse more than court, and she has a way of blending into the shadows. Until the day she meets a strange man riding, who keeps company with wolves and ravens, who rules a land of shapeshifters and demons. A country she’d thought was no more than legend–until he claims her as its queen.
In a moment everything changes: Her father, the wise king, becomes a warlord, suspicious and strategic. Whispers call her dead mother a traitor and a witch. Andi doesn’t know if her own instincts can be trusted, as visions appear to her and her body begins to rebel.
For Andi, the time to learn her true nature has come. . .