Review of Eldala by Margo Berendsen

New writing and blogging friend Margo Berendsen of Writing at High Altitude was kind enough to post this on Goodreads. Thank you, Margo.

Warning: This review has spoilers.

It's been a long time since I've read high fantasy, but Eldala makes me want to read more. This story has some great sword-fighting, a few attacks by mythical creatures, an evil sorceress who holds the kingdom of Teleria under a curse --- but what makes Eldala really stand out from other fantasies with similar elements is the special "magic" called Eldala, a heart-bond that begins when two young friends exchange gifts and start to "grow together in mind and heart." But I can't say too much about this heart-bond without spoilers!

Kieran, the main character, starts off with a "let me play it safe" attitude, and his journey to becoming a true, self-sacrificing hero is a bumpy one that you can't help cheering him along.

But primarily Eldala is a love story.

On page two, Keiran muses that "there was only one woman for him. He just had to find her again." I couldn't resist those two simple sentences! I am a sucker for a quest to recover a lost love! Add into this mix the idea of Eldala, a heart-bond, and I was hooked.

The idea of a special magic being associated with love was very intriguing to me, and beautifully executed in this book. So many of us have a special song that we share with our loved ones, but Eldala puts a really neat twist on this idea of a love song. Many of us have experienced dreams of love, or our loved one, but Eldala involves dreams in a magical way.

There is another magical element in the story, Keldar stones, that also fascinated me. The idea of a magic talisman or amulet certainly isn't a new one, but there's something special these stones do that is so cool!

And the magic that Kieran pulls off in the butterfly scene just took my breath away! Oh my gosh soooooo romantic! And romantic in the very best way. Not sappy.

I can't help myself I also have to gush over the beautiful but heart-breaking scene where Jessa girds Kieran for battle.

The only problem I had with this book is that Kieran doesn't find Jessa until about a third of way through - there's still lots of action and world-building but the story doesn't really take off until he finds her (okay sort of a small spoiler: actually what happens is she finds him). And then the roller coaster really begins. There are obstacles at every turn. But this is where all the careful world-building/plot-building pays off because they are believable obstacles. Not the least of which are some of the genuine insecurities and misunderstandings that complicate even true love - I liked these realistic touches to Kieran's and Jessa's relationship.