I received this book via Author. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of this review.Broken Aro by Jen Wylie
Series: The Broken Ones #1
Published by Untold Press on September 14, 2012
Length: 265 pages
Reviewing eARC from Author
Open your eyes to darkness. What do you see? Does the darkness frighten you? Now imagine the darkness being the cargo hold of a slave ship. Your city has fallen. Your family is most likely dead. You don't know anyone around you, and some of them aren't even human. Giving up would be so easy to do, but not for Arowyn Mason. Not after being raised in a military family with seven brothers. Every great story should begin with a plan. Aro’s was to escape and to survive.
Escape comes, but at a price. As they reach the shore, Aro and the other survivors learn that freedom doesn’t mean safety. The slavers want their property back and will do anything to get it. The party uses every ounce of their brute strength, a hearty helping of cunning, and even ancient magics to keep themselves alive. Sickness, danger, and even love surprise them at every turn. Dealing with danger becomes their way of life, but none of them ever considered that nothing can be quite as dangerous as a prophecy. Running turns into another race altogether as her world falls to pieces again and again.
Broken Aro by Jen Wylie is a fast-paced, fantasy adventure told on an epic scale. Arowyn Mason is the youngest and only daughter in a family of soldiers. Mother died when she was 4 and father at 13, her brothers are left to raise her and they do a wonderful job. She is a skilled fighter, knife-handler, can shoot a bow better than handle a sword, and cuss like a soldier. In other words, she’s not your typical girl. When her brothers come home bringing an enemy army on their heels, she prepares to flee with them. But the unthinkable happens. Torn from her family, she finds herself on a slave ship heading across the ocean. Her only salvation: her brothers have dressed her like a boy. Her brothers gone, she finds that if she wants to escape she has to rely on the six men trapped in the cell with her. And so begins her epic journey.
I cannot put into words just how much I enjoyed this book! Let’s start with the characters. The story is told in a third-person limited from Aro’s perspective. Aro is fifteen, nearly sixteen which in her world is an adult. She is strong-willed, a skilled fighter, and has no qualms about fighting to stay alive. I loved her quick wit and sarcastic humor, but most of all I loved the loyalty and love she develops for her boys. Her boys happen to be the six men she was trapped with: Bo, Cain, Kendric, Avery, Kei, and Prince.
Bo, Cain, and Kendric are soldiers who fought with her brothers and dad. Because of this they immediately decide they will do what is necessary to protect her and they remind her of the brothers she’s lost. Avery and Kei are also soldiers though closer to her age. Avery is her friend and a comic-relief. She can be herself around him. Kei isn’t just a soldier though, he’s a Fey and because of past events her would-be brother. When he learns this, he makes a promise to be with her always. To protect and love her as true family and she instantly loves him for this. Their interactions are great. Kei brings the best out in Aro and she does the same for him.
Then there’s Prince. He was visiting the court in her town when it was taken over and he was captured. He’s surly and mean, arrogant. In fact, I very much disliked this character when Aro first meets him. Then he saves her life when Kei cannot. To everyone in their group, he is standoffish, not really unkind, just not overly friendly. Except with Aro. Their relationship is quite confusing throughout the book and it only gets worse.
This story as I said in the beginning is an epic fantasy adventure. From the prologue, where a dragon confronts two Fey, to the very end I just couldn’t read fast enough. The world that the author has created reminds me a bit of middle Earth in The Lord of the Rings yet it is told so differently. To Aro, all of it is myth and legend until she meets Kei, who is Fey. Then she learns that there’s more. There are Elves, Fey, Were, and dragons. The way it is written, the magic and the different magical beings, are so well intertwined with everyday life that it is believable. I could very easily see this and what Aro and her boys encounter in real-life (at least according to my brain). I can’t wait to see where the series goes!
Overall, I loved every word of this book. I laughed at the irony, I cried at Aro’s heartbreak, and I fell in love with her boys. I have to give thanks to the author for keeping this a relatively clean read. No strong language, only mild violence, however there is a few instances in the first part of the book involving the slavers and rape so please keep that in mind if you are sensitive to this issue. Otherwise wonderfully written, definitely a page-turner. It was so good, I finished it and immediately started book two which is already available. I would recommend this book to anyone who loves young adult literature, coming-of-age stories, and fantasy on an epic scale.