Monday, October 24, 2022

All Things Halloween Review - Defender of Walls

Defender of Walls (Kingdom of Walls, # 1)

By: Tanya Bird

Publication: February 20th 2021 by Tanya Bird

328 pages

Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy, Dystopian

Source: Personal Kindle Library

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Goodreads description--Keep her inside. Keep her alive.

Blake Suttone has a stomach full of grief and no food. A decade of famine has taken its toll on the splintered kingdom, but it is the merchants who suffer most. A wall stands between the hungry and the food, and the kingdom’s defenders stand guard atop it. Desperate times lead to desperate acts, and Blake will do whatever is necessary to ensure her family survives. But a growing attachment to a certain commander was never part of the plan. Now the man protecting the walls seems determined to guard her too.

Commander Harlan Wright was raised on a diet of training and discipline. His mind is calloused and his heart closed. These are not faults in a defender but assets. Harlan’s path is clear, until he meets a merchant girl who pulls him in a dangerous new direction. Blake might be a fighter, but she is fighting a losing battle. As the walls continue to go up, Harlan must choose between head and heart, duty and love.

This is the first book in the medieval dystopian series Kingdom of Walls. If you enjoy high-emotion romance with plenty of action, then this dark star-crossed lovers tale is for you.

For some reason I thought there would be a little more supernatural elements to this book. I guess the world is fantasy. The religion is unique to this story. Maybe that's fantasy enough. There's no magic in the first book anyway. The description labels it as medieval dystopian.

Harlan's family lives in the merchant borough of this fantasy kingdom. They run a dress shop, but from what I can tell they don't do much business. I suppose one doesn't need fancy clothes when they can't afford to buy food. From what I gathered it seems like it rains in this fantasy kingdom more often than not. I guess the constant rain is what's driving the famine. Anyway, food is scarce at the very beginning of this story and it only gets worse as the story progresses. Blake's father passed not that long ago from a heart attack (or it was said that his heart failed him). The book begins with her brother dying in a collapsed illegal tunnel. This is where Blake meets Harlan--the commander of the borough.

Harlan can see the grief pouring off of Blake at their first meeting. And well, Harlan isn't unaccustomed with grief since his mother committed suicide. He sees something in Blake that stirs his pity and compassion. And the more opportunities these two have bumping into each other the more feelings begin to develop. But a relationship between a Defender and a Merchant will not end well. These aren't just class lines being crossed. Defenders are used by the king to enforce the rules and punishments. And Blake has a family to think of. It seems the girls are hoping to marry well and by marry well that means perhaps marry a farmer, but I don't know how that would happen when the boroughs never mix or cross over to the other.

I really enjoyed the building of the relationship between Harlan and Blake. They did not have an easy path. As a matter of fact, there was one point where even I was beginning to lose hope for Blake and for their relationship. Tanya Bird did a good job building up the drama and the mountain that needed to be overcome for these two to come together. I did find a few aspects of the overall story to be shallow or not fleshed out completely. It's possible Tanya Bird would know the answer to all of my questions, but as the reader, I was left wondering about a few things I think should have been explained. At the same time, I feel like she ultimately did focus on the parts of the story that mattered the most.

Favorite quotes:

-"I just think any man who makes you see yourself as the rest of us do is a hero."

-"You don't have to stand tall and strong when I'm around. I've got you."

I wanted to keep reading Defender of Walls any time that I had to put it down. Sometimes this isn't the best thing for my family because I find myself getting crabby because all I want to do is read and I actually have wife, mother, etc. responsibilities to see to. Defender of Walls gets 4 Stars. I am looking forward to reading the next book. Have you read Defender of Walls? What did you think? Let me know!

This review is part of my All Things Halloween event--a month of fantasy, paranormal, supernatural, mystery/thriller, etc reviews and books.

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