Thursday, March 26, 2015

Lark Rising by Sandra Waugh

lark rising
Lark Rising by Sandra Waugh
Series: Guardians of Tarnec #1
Released: September 23, 2014
Publisher: Random House Books
Source: bought/hardcover

Goodreads | Amazon

Lark has foreseen two things—she will fall for a young man with sage green eyes,and he will kill her.

Sixteen-year-old Lark Carew is happiest close to home, tending her garden and gathering herbs for medicines. But when her Sight warns her that monsters called Troths will soon invade her village, Lark is summoned on a journey to seek help from the legendary Riders of Tarnec.

Little does she suspect that one of the Riders, Gharain, is the very man who has haunted her visions. Or that the people of Tarnec have called her there for another reason: Lark is the Guardian of Life, the first of four Guardians who must awaken their powers to recover four stolen amulets. Together, the amulets—Life, Death, Dark, and Light—keep the world in Balance. To take back the Life amulet, Lark will have to discover her true inner strength and give in to a love that she swears will be her downfall. (from Goodreads)

Lark Rising is the beginning of an epic adventure focusing on the recovery of four stolen amulets. It's a simple enough premise and rather predictable, but add in some interesting natural magic lore, intriguing characters, a land rich with history, (not to mention some killer cover art) and you've got yourself a fantastic read.

I picked this book up because Juliet Marillier, one of the best fantasy writers on the planet, blurbed it. So, DUH! Of course I'm going to read something that she calls a "striking debut novel with a lovely folkloric flavor." AND IT'S TRUE. Lark Rising very much so reminded me of Marillier's own Shadowfell. It's a slow read at first, gradually picking up pace, but it is steady in its beauty. Sandra Waugh's style is poetic and utterly perfect for the mood of this piece. The writing is much like Lark herself, delicate yet powerful.

Lark is not the heroine for everyone. She's quiet, prefers to keep to herself because of her particular brand of magic, and there is nothing all that spectacular about her. In short, she's one of my favorite types of heroine. This book is about Lark's growth into a woman who comes to know herself. This book is about her figuring out how to trust herself when she doesn't have that high of an opinion to begin with. It's something that I definitely related to and is a great message for young girls who lack that faith in themselves.

But that is not a journey that anyone can go on alone. Humans are creatures that desire communion with others, and I personally love that this book isn't about finding independence, but rather finding yourself through others. Lark wouldn't be herself without the people around her. There's her cousin Evie, who greatly impacts Lark's story even though she has little page time (though she will in the next book, Silver Eve); Lark's loyal horse Rune; and the Riders.

Rune and the Riders add an interesting element to the story. The Riders are the only folk in the land who know the secret to horses, and with the horses they are the Keepers who protect the land from darkness. Rune, a horse, finds and saves Lark, claiming her as his. He continually gives her guidance and stability in that majestic way we all dream horses do. He's THAT HORSE.

The Riders are a band of twelve men, and given their numbers we can only scratch the surface on their characters in this one book. But we do get to know Gharain. He is everything that Lark is not - impulsive, quick, wears his emotions outwardly, unyielding, and persistent. It's strange how different they appear to be on the outside, but Lark and Gharain share so many qualities... or perhaps they simply bring those similar qualities out of each other. I absolutely love how they come to mirror each other as the narrative progresses, and it feels natural.

If you are a fan of Juliet Marillier, I think you will love Lark Rising. I highly recommend it to fantasy lovers who don't mind taking their time to fall into this wonderfully realized world.

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