4.5⭐️ – I’d completely missed this very exciting fantasy debut in Bella Books August releases, and I want to thank Lex for recommending it.
Guardians protect weaknesses in the Veil between Lur Ederra and Tristea, preventing Darke creatures from invading the Humans’ world. Guardians are born in pairs, one destined to be a Sword, the other a Shield. Luna has been waiting to find her other half for a long long time but when the Call comes, what she finds isn’t at all what she expected. Gia has been living among humans since she was a child and never expected her Arima, her soul mate, to come find her, especially not as she’s about to marry a Human.
Jen Lawrence writes an unusual and strangely relatable love triangle. Of course I wanted Gia to make up her mind and of course both Luna and Sean deserve better than her indecisiveness, yet I understood how she felt and how trying to choose between not only two persons but also two worlds could be daunting. Gia is frustrating but she’s also the character with the most interesting growth journey. She grew up rejecting everything from her homeworld, for undeniably valid reasons, and meeting Luna makes her question her beliefs all over again. Luna herself, who, despite her unique circumstances of not having an Arima for so long, believed her world’s rules were for the best, finds herself questioning them too.
Because of the bond between them, the first time Luna and Gia touch, magic flares up and opens the physical connection. The whole question is whether the energy and longing flowing between them stem from the bond only. As they journey towards the answer, the attraction is such that even when they’ve agreed on simply being friends, their subconscious knows better.
The situation in which the two MCs get together, or not together, leads to a lot of exquisite angst, and it could be too much at times (Luna can be a bit of a drama queen), but the author injects some humour at the right time, before it gets overly dramatic.
Guardian is a story of fate versus free will, even though putting it like this is much too simple. Is it still fate when what you’re destined to is also what you really want?
There are a few excellent secondary characters, and two of them are especially interesting: Sean, Gia’s fiancé, and Sua Orro, the Ama Gorria, the Red Mother, Luna’s mentor (kinda). I love them both. Sean is sweet and kind and the best kind of human. The Ama Gorria has earned the right over millennia to be mischievous and snarky and I was always looking forward to her appearances.
The world-building is very well done, not overwhelming but precise enough to feel unfamiliar and exciting. Between that and the writing, I was very pleasantly surprised when I realised Guardian is a debut. At the end of the book, the author promises more stories in the Darke universe, which is excellent news. And if you can’t wait and want more of her writing, I recommend this very enlightening post about colourism on Bella Media.