I must admit something before I say anything else about this book. Amelia Atwater-Rhodes is the author that got me to take my writing seriously. I was twelve when I read her book, In the Forests of The Night. She’d written it at 13, published it at 14.
She was the first teenage author I was aware of and us being so close in age had me swearing I’d try getting published by the time I was 15. Getting published didn’t happen, at least not that early and not in novel-writing, but I started writing daily, studying the craft and basically internet stalking her. I’ve read every book she’s published, including the short story she published in the anthology 666.
I grew up, and my stalker habits faded. I still read Amelia’s books and keep an eye on her sporadic posts on her website. Mainly for book updates, I swear. I also follow her on Facebook, which is how I managed to get an ARC (Advanced Readers Copy) of Promises to Keep. Thanks again Amelia!
With that admission out of the way, we can begin with the review.
I wasn’t sure what to expect of Promises to Keep after the release of her last book Poison Tree, which felt dated and stretched to the point of being unrealistic, even in terms of the world she created. The last few books she’s published didn’t feel as ready for publication as others. This one…felt much more put together than Poison Tree, but their were still things…
I saw no real point to the prologue in this book. It introduces Daryl, and Brina and the fall of Midnight. We met Daryl and learned about Midnight in Midnight Predator. There was a brief mention of Jeshickah, who we also met in Midnight Predator. And hints of a pact by a Sara Vida, not the Sarah Vida in Shattered Mirror or All Just Glass, another one. Jeshickah and Sara Vida are not mentioned again in the book, nor is the pact, which bothered me. How did it connect to the rest of the story? Sarah Vida from previous books is frequently mentioned but does not make a physical appearance.
The prologue would have been better if it related to the book, perhaps introducing elementals instead. From what I’ve gleamed on the subject, Elementals are the incarnations of the elements, fire, water, wind, blood… I kept imagining them in human form, but I’m not sure that’s what Amelia meant to convey. And I can’t tell you how much of my impressions of Elementals are because of Promises to Keep and how much are from previous books where they were mentioned, if not made a very short appearance.
Chapter 1 starts in the middle of a fight scene. The scene is later revealed to have no real importance in the story other than to cause the main character, Jay, to be late to a party. Being late is how he obtains information he didn’t know he’d need until much later. Why he couldn’t receive the same information from his invitee, I don’t know. But once Jay walks into the party, the story takes place.
I believe one character from each of Atwater-Rhodes’ previous books, with the exception to the Kiesha’ra series, make a cameo appearance in Promises to Keep. And they’re true Cameo appearances, some of them only a paragraph long. It was nice to see the characters on stage again, but I wanted them to do a lot more on screen than showing up for a role someone else could easily have been assigned. Some of the reappearing characters have supporting roles in the book, like Caryn Smoke.
Other issues I had: Brina seemed to have a complete personality change half-way through the book. There is a slight transition for the change, but it didn’t seem enough. When we first meet her she’s in deep mourning for her brother, the change happens and she’s still a demanding brat, but a few pages later she’s a light-hearted girl who seems to have forgotten all about her brother Daryl.
After finding an unconscious girl, later revealed to be named Pet, Jay goes in search of answers about her. He receives the only important information before he goes into the woods, where he finds the new Midnight. Midnight is basically the headquarters of the slave trade and the major setting for Midnight Predator. Afterwards, pages are spent with him deciding how to figure his way out of the woods. Then Midnight is never mentioned again.
Jace goes back to Haven number 2, awakens the girl, who disappears, supposedly seeking revenge on Midnight (the ones who did her wrong). We see Pet once more before the book ends. But we never know what happens to her. Did she survive? Was she killed?
Other questions are left unanswered: Does Jay end up with Zeke or Brina? What does Brina do with her life after she became human? Did anything happen to the new Midnight after Jay found it? If, so, how did this affect the characters in Midnight Predator? Their are more questions I wanted answers to but I believe those were the biggest ones. As of this writing, I do not believe Amelia has a follow-up book planned for this story. So I may not receive answers. Other than those issues, I found the book enjoyable. Jay is an interesting character, with a new perspective.
For those of you who see me referencing so many characters from previous books and haven’t read any of Amelia Atwater-Rhodes’ work, don’t worry. Although the reappearance of several characters is nice for a long-time follower to see, I do not believe their appearance would keep new readers from completely enjoying or understanding this book.