Chapter by Chapter Blog Tour – MARKED BEAUTY Book Review & Giveaway
Published by Ellysian Press on October 2017
Genres: Fantasy, Young Adult Fiction
Source: the Author
FTC Disclosure: I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher via the Author. All opinions are my own.
Today is my stop on the Chapter by Chapter Blog Tour for S.A. Larsen’s exciting new novel, Marked Beauty. Please check out my review and then be sure to scroll down and enter the giveaway for a $25 Amazon Gift Card. Thanks for stopping by and be sure to check out the other stops on the Marked Beauty Blog Tour!
S.A. Larsen’s Marked Beauty is a fresh and imaginative YA contemporary fantasy that follows high school student, Anastasia Tate, or Ana as she is called. For most of her life, Ana has been carrying around a secret: she’s an empath and can feel the emotions of those around her. Not only can she feel their emotions, but she can actually see them as well. Everyone she meets has colored life energy auras floating around them. It’s not an ability that she fully understands and so the emotions of others often overwhelm her, so most days she just tries to get by while drawing as little attention to herself as possible. When she senses a dark shadowy presence stalking her at school one day, it becomes clear that life as she has known it is about to change.
That same dark shadowy presence nearly costs Ana and her best friend, Katee, their lives, but a young man named Viktor Castle intervenes and rescues them. Viktor, however, is no ordinary young man. He possesses abilities of his own and is also carrying around a secret – Viktor is the victim of an ancient curse and Ana is the only one who can set him free. His original purpose for being in the right place at the right time is to retrieve Ana so that he can free himself, but once he sees her, he decides he can’t go through with it and instead vows to protect her at all costs, even if it means he is cursed forever.
From the moment she lays eyes on Viktor, Ana senses that the two of them have a connection that she has never experienced before. It’s an undeniable attraction. Ana also senses that he has the answers to questions she has had all her life about her abilities and so she begins to question him relentlessly and gets furious when he evades her questions at every turn. What Ana doesn’t realize, because she doesn’t know the full extent of her history and where her powers come from, is that by interceding and saving her life, Viktor has actually put her in even more danger.
Will Viktor finally come clean to Ana and answer all of her questions about her powers and about this bond that the two of them clearly share? Will Ana and Viktor be able to escape the dark forces that threaten both of their lives?
There’s so much to love about Marked Beauty. There’s mystery, action and adventure, romance, a lush fantasy world, and ancient curses, as well as characters that will immediately draw you in and keep you invested in their stories.
I especially enjoyed the main character, Ana. I thought the author did a brilliant job of illustrating her empathic powers and how challenging and often overwhelming they could be for Ana, while still infusing Ana with qualities such as being feisty, determined, and quite often stubborn. She has these powers that she’s not quite sure what to make of, but once she decides she wants to know everything about them, there’s no stopping her. That realistic and relatable mix of strong and determined yet somewhat vulnerable had me cheering Ana on from the first pages of the story.
Viktor was also a great character. I loved the sense of mystery that surrounded him from the moment he enters the story. I also liked that even though he knew Ana was the only way to free himself from this curse, he chooses the selfless route instead and vows to protect Ana and keep her hidden from those who would love to harness her power and use it for their own sinister purposes.
The unique fantasy world that S.A. Larsen has created was really what kept me so mesmerized by this story. I really enjoyed how the novel itself is set in a normal high school contemporary setting, but that just below the surface, there’s this rich fantasy world filled with the Lynceus, Rifters, hybrids, the mysterious Sixth, bloodprints, life energy auras, family curses, and so much more.
I don’t want to give too much away about the fantasy world since I think it’s best to watch the details of the mystery unfold for yourself and see how they ultimately tie back to both Ana and Viktor and their families, but it’s definitely one of the most intriguing fantasy worlds I’ve encountered. I also kept finding myself thinking about what a great film this story would make. The descriptions of the auras, in particular, were so lush and vivid that I just kept wishing I could actually see them for myself on film.
While the mystery of finding out how this fantasy world relates back to Ana was my favorite part of Marked Beauty, I have to admit that I also enjoyed the romantic aspect of the story as well. Those who follow my reviews are probably shocked since I’m usually quite critical of romance in YA fantasy and I’ll admit that I had a moment of ‘OMG, no. It’s instalove!’ but I changed my mind. Yes, Ana and Viktor are immediately attracted to one another, but in this case, there’s a clear reason for it because they’ve been somehow bound together by this curse. Their destinies were intertwined back before they ever met, so I was okay with them having that instant bond. The bond is what initially brings them together, but they do end up having enough chemistry that it worked for me.
I can’t say that I had many issues at all with Marked Beauty. The only thing that dropped it from a 5 star to a 4 star rating for me was that I occasionally had a little trouble following the mystery of the curse and how it related to Ana. The story itself is fascinating but some of the details were so intricate that they lost me once in a while. That said, by the end, all of my questions were answered so I was satisfied even though I had that occasional confusion about what was happening and why.
If you’re into fantasies that are filled with action, romance, mystery, and a hint of danger, I’d say give Marked Beauty a chance. S.A. Larsen has created a unique fantasy world that I definitely wouldn’t mind visiting again.
Uncovering hidden secrets can sometimes kill you . . . or worse, steal your soul.
Anastasia Tate has a secret. She can feel the emotions of others through their life energy auras. Not a welcome gift for a teenager. Especially when a sinister presence begins stalking her.
Viktor Castle also has a secret. He’s tasked with protecting humanity yet cursed by an ancient evil to destroy it.
After Viktor saves Ana’s life, her abilities grow stronger. Drawn together, she senses Viktor has answers to lifelong questions. Only he shuns her at every turn, knowing he has saved her only to put her in more danger. As Ana struggles with her attraction to Viktor, he tries everything to bury his unexpected feelings for her. But they must find a middle ground. For only together can they combat the dark forces threatening both their lives . . . and their souls.
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Blog Tour Giveaway:
One (1) winner will receive a $25 Amazon Gift Card (INT)
This definitely sounds like an intriguing book – and with so many YA fantasy books out there, it’s awesome that this one still feels unique!
Thank you for this great review, Suzanne. The way you describe this book has me wanting to drop everything and read it right now. I enjoy rich fantasy worlds, and it sounds like the author has that in Marked Beauty. I will have to look for this one.
Sounds like a well done novel. I’m glad to hear there wasn’t too much that you didn’t like! 🙂 Always good!
Ooh this one is new to me, but I’m definitely intrigued! Your review is wonderful, I’ll definitely be adding this one to my TBR. Thanks for sharing! 🙂
You have me sooo curious about the worldbuilding in this — it sounds like the author has made something old new again, so to speak in the high school setting.
That’s a good way of putting it. I thought it was so interesting how the magical world overlapped with the normal, everyday setting.