Ianthe, the debut novel in the Fae Realm series by new author Cathlin Shahriary, marks a few milestones for me as a reader. It’s the first YA book I’ve dared to read since The Fault in our Stars (which I read over a year ago), as well as my first fantasy novel. I wondered if I had recovered enough from the emotional trauma suffered at the hands of Augustus Waters to be able to venture back into YA waters. I questioned whether or not fantasy would be a genre I would enjoy. As I was swept into the first few chapters, however, I quickly realized these concerns were unfounded.
Seventeen and being raised by a single father with whom she has a strained relationship at best, Ianthe is sent to her great aunt’s house for the summer following a stint in rehab. Shortly after her arrival, she befriends Conall, a mysterious boy who appears to her both in real life and her dreams. A series of dramatic events necessitates that they escape to the Fae world and Ianthe’s life is soon turned upside down when she discovers the truth about her heritage.
Part of my hesitation to read fantasy novels in the past stemmed from worry that the mythology would be so detailed and have so many moving parts that it would ultimately distract instead of engage me. Cathlin does a skillful job of avoiding this potential pitfall by infusing her Fae world with intricacies that serve to further the action and support the plot, rather than confuse the reader. The story has a broad range of appeal and is executed in such a way that it can be easily followed by any reader on the YA demographic spectrum.
The novel’s fast pace, well-rounded character development and balance of dialogue with description make for a strong start to the Fae Realm series. Ianthe is a heroine who proves to be truly relatable and I found myself completely invested in her journey. The twists and turns taken in this book held my interest and kept me on my toes. I’m eagerly awaiting the next installment of the series!
“All great choices are made with great risks.”
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