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Book review: 'Dark Breaks the Dawn' is fantastical Swan Lake retelling

Posted May 26

"DARK BREAKS THE DAWN," by Sara B. Larson, Scholastic Press, $17.99, 320 pages (f) (ages 12 and up)

"Dark Breaks the Dawn" is the latest release from Utah author Sara B. Larson. The first in a planned duology, it is a Swan Lake retelling, acting as a prequel to the famous folktale.

Evelayn is the princess of Eadrolan, the Light Kingdom. She has been anxiously awaiting her 18th birthday to access the full range of her magical powers. When the day comes, her senses are heightened and she feels like her powers are endless — until tragedy strikes and her powers are gone.

A system is set in place for the Light Kingdom to regain its magic, but the Dark Kingdom, Dorjhalon, is doing everything in its power to keep that from happening and gain control of the entire land.

Evelayn quickly finds out that being queen, trusting others and finding balance in life is much harder than her mother made it seem.

Larson has created a lush world in the two kingdoms of light and dark. The well-developed political systems, customs and landscapes will immerse the reader in this fantasy world. The Draiolon race with its colorful skin and hair is a vibrant addition to story.

The main character, Evelayn, is a strong female lead with flaws to balance out her beauty, talent and privilege. Her friends and servants who surround her add opposition, humor and romance. While the alternating third-person narrative between the characters can be confusing at times, Larson gains a knack for each voice, and it adds a depth to the storytelling that wouldn’t be reached otherwise.

The magic system seems like the ordinary inheritance kind at first, but the details Larson writes into the checks and balances set it apart from previously written systems in young adult fantasy. The battle between light and dark is also not a new idea, but these kingdoms and the players in the war between them add a refreshing twist.

With tension building to a shocking ending, Larson leaves readers ready for the sequel.

“Dark Breaks the Dawn” contains mild kissing scenes, tame battle/fighting scenes and no swearing.

Tara Creel is a Logan-native-turned-California-girl and mother of four boys. Her email is taracreel@gmail.com, and she blogs at taracreelbooks.wordpress.com.

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