4 out of 4 stars
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A tale of the struggles of two princesses hoping to discover their past is presented in Awakening: Book 1 by Tayma Tameem. This fantasy novel takes place in a magical land and enchantingly explores the intricate tapestry of family bonds.
Twenty-six years earlier in the magical Kingdom of Hale as the King hears the news of the birth of his second daughter, Amara, he tells his four-year-old daughter, Katja, the bewitching story of the Spirit of Brikkir. As the king held his new daughter, his confidant and oldest friend, Cortel, observed that newly born Amara’s eye color has changed from dark brown to “a sapphire shade of blue,” indicating that the Spirit of Brikkir now resides in the little princess.
As if by magic, the story springs to present time, and Katja wakes up in a forest completely devoid of her memory except for her name. She then embarks on a path of self-discovery, reaching an unknown town where she comes to learn that she is Amara’s sister. Because of the lapses in her memory, Katja has no recollections of their relationship or the events that led her to wake up with amnesia in the forest.
The Spirit of Brikkir — also called the Spirit of Winter — runs through the veins of Princess Amara, who is now a Queen of Ice. From a very young age, she was able to summon and control ice, which scared the court magician. Although the King and Queen tried to tame her powers, whenever Amara became angry, she lost control of them. As she was growing up, Amara struggled to conceal her still hidden powers, and only her beloved sister, Katja, was able to calm her down. Back in the present time, Katja is shown struggling among the town’s people, trying to remember her past and discovering the truths about her sister and the so-called malefic Queen of Ice. What happened in the meantime? Did Amara’s resentment engulf her and release the darkness within her? Will Katja remember the bond that she once shared with Amara? And moreover, what will be the future of Hale’s Kingdom?
The story captures the essence of sisterly love between the two princesses — as well as a slight hint of platonic, teenage romance between them and the Princes of Sol — in an enchanting fairy tale adventure about the power of love. Although Katja was born without any magical powers, her “kindness and sharp intellect” made her distinguishable, complementary to Amara’s impatient, fiery nature. For instance, during a ballroom dance at Amara’s sixteenth birthday party, she quickly lost her temper in a moment of jealousy and accidentally turned an innocent guest into “an ice sculpture.” The characters are portrayed in a magical yet relatable fashion that evolves throughout the story. The thorough portrayal of the scenery and environment, such as the geometric patterns of the dance floor, the massive chandelier and the soothing tone of the harp, transports you to a magical place in your imagination.
The story has been written in two different time periods, and the author beautifully fluctuates from past to present maintaining the flow of the tale along with bits of wisdom, such as “love is the only power out there that trumps hatred, grief, sadness or anger.”
While the twists and surprises from the main story are wrapped up, there is a cliffhanger on the secondary themes, which made me wish for the sequel. Told in an expressive language with polished editing (as far as I could tell), the book is a phenomenal read for fantasy lovers of all ages who like to dwell in a magical world of princesses and their life challenges. Thus, I’m delighted to award Awakening: Book 1, by Tayma Tameem, with four out of four stars.
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