Do you like: Stabby girls? Imaginative worlds? Lost prophecies? Then you’ll love Born At Dawn.
Neva is one of the best thieves in Glacier’s Pass. She makes decent money to help her family survive and is finally about to solidify her reputation as The Lynx. All she has to do is steal a goblet.
But when another thief tries to muscle in on her score, and the goblet is far more than it appears, Neva quickly realizes she’s in way over her head.
I loved the introduction to Neva and this world. We get to see the staples of magic, her life as a thief, and are immediately given the foreboding sense of things about to go very wrong. The world is incredible imaginative, where it feels like this could be a small mountain town taken out of history, but then there’s magic and mythology and the other species of monsters. They’re woven together in a way that makes their presence feel natural and complete.
The world building is incredible and the magic is imaginative and unique. It’s tricky in fantasy to create something that feels fresh and different while also not making it so complicated that the world loses the reader, and Davis manages this beautifully. The reader is immediately captivated by Neva, who then walks us into her world not just through her theft but by working in her father’s tavern. From there, we explore and discover as Neva does, making it feel as if we’re on this adventure with her and not watching from afar.
I really loved how the fact that Neva was half-human propelled us into the Da’Valia clan. But I loved how conflicted she was over going. Sometimes in YA fantasy we get a protagonist who discovers they have powers and without second thought plunge straight into a new world. Even though Neva knew she had Da’Valia blood in her, she knew it was dangerous. But it’s only after her powers present a danger to her family that she chooses to leave, and even then, isn’t sure she’s made the right choice.
One difficulty I had was keeping up with the language and terms of this world. There is a glossary at the back, but I was reading on my kindle and I find it a bit clunky to flip back and forth. For the most part it wasn’t an issue, but on certain things, it made reading a little murkier. I wasn’t exactly sure if there was supposed to be a love triangle because I wasn’t quite sure I understood how the alliances between men and women worked in the Da’Valia culture. Overall, this didn’t impact my reading or my ability to follow the plot, but I think it did detract a bit from the character depth, which is something I really enjoy exploring in books.
From the very beginning, this plot is fast-paced. Even better is how it maintains that pace throughout the entire book. And while that’s great for keeping us turning the pages, there were a few parts that could have been strengthened with a little downtime for us to catch up. Some of this led to not as much internal dialogue as I would have preferred. I wasn’t quite clear on how Neva felt in regards to the love interest as a result.
That’s not to say I didn’t enjoy this book. It was packed with information from beginning to end. Each chapter opened with snippets of a journal, that builds some of the unanswered questions Neva encounters. This adds a ton of tension for the reader as we do know some events but not enough to make it feel slow or take away all the surprises and twists.
For readers looking for a YA fantasy that feels familiar in some ways and yet is absolutely unique in others, Born At Dawn will satisfy their search. As mentioned in the blurb, there is a fair amount of violence and brutality, so readers should be aware of that before plunging in. In all, this was a very fast read that kept me entertained. Three stabby stars.
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Thank you TBR & Beyond Tours for sending me a copy and including me on this tour.
When a heist goes terribly wrong and the binding spell holding 17-year-old Neva’s powers at bay is shattered, the half-human thief knows she’s in trouble.
Neva has always hidden her Da’Valian heritage while working risky jobs to make a name for herself and serving at her family’s tavern, but she won’t be able to hide much longer. She can either risk the safety of those she cares about or seek out her mother’s people to gain control over her emerging powers.
The Da’Valia are beautiful, brutal creatures created by the god of war, and the austere Da’Valian soldier Astiand reluctantly agrees to take Neva to his clan under his protection. She makes unexpected friends, including the handsome fighter Emiliand, and a new enemy in the clan’s ruthless leader.
Spying on her guardian, the sly heroine quickly discovers just how deep she has stumbled into a dangerous, developing clan feud.
Will she be able to embrace who she is in time to keep her loved ones safe?
Christina Davis was raised in the Santa Cruz Mountains and is a California girl at heart. She spent much of her childhood in and out of hospitals and embraced reading as an escape. After being home-schooled through high school, she graduated summa cum laude from San Jose State University and attended NYU’s Summer Publishing Institute before embarking on a decade-long career in journalism. She enjoys chocolate, cosplay, coffee, and board games, but not necessarily in that order. She now lives in beautiful Monterey County with her husband and daughter.