Keeper of the Dawn by Dianna Gunn
Publisher: The Book Smugglers
Release Date: April 18, 2017
Rating: 3 out of 5 stars
All Lai has ever wanted is to become a priestess, like her mother and grandmother before her, in service to their beloved goddess. That’s before the unthinkable happens, and Lai fails the trials she has trained for her entire life. She makes the only choice she believes she can: she runs away.
From her isolated desert homeland, Lai rides north to the colder, stranger kingdom of Alanum—a land where magic, and female warriors, are not commonplace.
Here, she hears tales about a mountain city of women guardians and steel forgers, worshiping goddesses who sound very similar to Lai’s own. Determined to learn more about these women, these Keepers of the Dawn, Lai travels onward to find their temple. She is determined to make up for her past failure, and will do whatever it takes to join their sacred order.
Falling in love with another initiate was not part of the plan.
Keeper of the Dawn is a tale of new beginnings, second chances, and the endurance of hope.
There was a fantastic novel in here. Lots of amazing world building, some truly magnificent new mythology created, and the character of Lai was strong, independent and an absolute joy to watch wander through the world.
Unfortunately, all of this was rushed into the shape of a novella. I too often found that I was just getting used to the shape of one part of the story, the new characters or parts of the world that had been introduced, and then suddenly we were months or a year beyond that point in the next chapter. Most striking to me was the section where Lai’s horse Maia died. There was one mention of her not doing too well in the colder climates, then suddenly Lai was with her and it was the night Maia died.
I would have loved to see more of this book, from the relationship between Lai and Miran. They were so close in the first chapters. How did Lai manage to go without saying goodbye? Did she think of Miran again in that context when she then left without saying goodbye to Tara? The sickness that swept across the colder climates was mentioned, but fixed too quickly for the reader to have any real significance beyond that Lai used magic to heal people.
There were many more examples of this, and the only reason I complain is that the story elements were all so compelling that it seemed like a shame to have the feeling of running headlong through them all without pausing for the emotional beats of the story.
With regards to the f/f and asexual relationship between Lai and Tara, I feel like the romantic part of their relationship was one of the things done very well; however, the asexual part was glossed over in no more than a couple of lines and then never referenced again.
All in all, a fantastic idea that I would have loved to see more of.
Dianna L. Gunn has known she wanted to be a writer since she was eight years old. She wrote her first novel for Nanowrimo at the age of eleven years old, but quickly discovered that writing books is not an easy way to make a living. So she decided to broaden her horizons, seeking another career that still allowed her to work with words.
When she isn’t helping her clients bring their dreams to life, Dianna can be found busily working on her own dream of being a successful fantasy author. Her first YA fantasy novella, Keeper of the Dawn, is available now, and she hopes to announce a second release date soon.
You can purchase Keeper of the Dawn from:
Barnes & Noble
I received an advanced copy of this novel in exchange for a fair and honest review.