Dark of the West: An amazing book full of super lovable characters, espionage, honor, deceit, and betrayal!!

Dark of the West book
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He was raised in revolution. She was raised in a palace. Can their love stop a war? Code Name Verity meets The Winner's Curse in Joanna Hathaway's Dark of the West, a breathtaking YA fantasy debut. Aurelia Isendare is a princess of a small kingdom in the North, raised in privilege but shielded from politics as her brother prepares to step up to the throne. Halfway around the world, Athan Dakar, the youngest son of…
***Thank you to NetGalley for providing me with this arc in exchange for an honest review***

 

Non-Spoiler Review

 
I am honestly at a loss for words. This book was so dang good. It's taken me a few days to really digest what I've read and been ready to put them into words. I knew from the synopsis that I would probably like this book. What I didn't know was how easy it was for me to fall in love with every part of this book and that it would be one of my favorite reads this year. Dark of The West has everything you need in a book, forbidden romance, espionage, honor, deceit, betrayal, war, and a lot of aviation. I really enjoyed reading about the aviation parts of the book. It was so interesting! The writing seriously blew me away! I put Joana Hathaway in a category with Laini Taylor and Leigh Bardugo. It was written so beautifully. I was so immersed in this world. 
 
I really loved the characters as well. We have 2 POV's, Athan and Aurelia. Athan is the youngest son of the, to put it gently, unpleasant, General Dakar. Athan is a fighter pilot that would give anything to fly to the mountains and not have to deal with being on the front lines. He is smart, clever, and very smooth. When his mother is killed, the General insists that it is the Queen of Etenia, who also happens to be Aurelia's mother. Although Athan wants no part of the war, for his mother, he goes along with his fathers plan to go undercover and find out information from the Queen's children. Of course, Athan's mission becomes so much harder once he starts falling for Aurelia. He is stuck between keeping Aurelia safe and being loyal to his father.
 
Aurelia is such a wonderful character. Being the princess she is not as involved with what is going on in the kingdom as she would like. Her mother is the Queen until Reni, Aurelia's brother, comes of age to take the throne. Reni and his mother have different thoughts on how the kingdom should be run and Aurelia ends up being caught in the middle. She has many great ideas, but because she is only the princess, no one tends to listen to her. She is also very taken by Athan even though she tries not to be at first. I enjoyed their relationship so much!
Throughout the whole book, I kept trying to figure out who was the bad guy and who was the good guy. I changed my mind so many times. This world was so fascinating to me. Once I made about halfway through the book I couldn't put it down! I had to know what was going to happen to these amazing characters! I most definitely recommend this book to everyone! I don't see how this book wouldn't make it in your top 5 of this year for sure.
 

Character love

Aurelia - I loved this girl. She was such a great character. She was so mature for her age and I love how fierce she was. When she believed in something she didn't back down. She stood up for her beliefs. And on top of all that she has such an awesome lover for her family. I really enjoyed following Aurelia on this journey.
 
Athan - Athan has to be one of my favorite characters of this year so far. He was just so hilarious. He reminded me a lot of my other 2 favorite characters, Roar from Under the never sky and Kenji from the Shatter me series. I loved everything about Athan's personality. He was a truly good guy even though he grew up with his general father and his older brothers. He seems so different than them. Athan made me laugh way too much.
 
Reni - Reni is Aurelia's brother and soon to be King of Etenia. I'm still not sure how he will be as King but I did enjoy his character. I loved his relationship with Aurelia, and all his scenes with Athan were pretty funny.
 
Cyar - Sweet Cyar. I loved his friendship with Athan. It's rare that you read a book with such a great male friendship, but Joanna nailed it. It never seemed weird. You could always tell how much they cared for on another and how they would do anything for each other.
 
Sinora - Sinora is the mother to Aurelia and Athan and Queen of Etenia until Reni becomes of age. I was so confused by her a lot of the time. I could never tell if she was lying or telling the truth. I'm still not sure honestly.
 
General Dakar - General Dakar is the father of Athan and General of the south. He is a very harsh man. I also was confused about him throughout the whole book.
 
Havis - I didn't like Havis from the get-go. He just seems like a creep. I never ended up liking him either.
 
 

Spoilery Review

 

Spoilers Ahead 

 

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As you could tell from my non-spoiler review up there 👆🏻I absolutly loved this book sooo much!!! I was pretty sure that I would just from the synopsis but I didn't realize how fast and hard I would fall. I had so many thoughts while reading this book... so here goes!!!

 

I was intrigued by this book immediately. I really enjoyed how we read the ending first! It was fun to try to figure out how everything ended so bad.

I liked Athan from the get-go. and I liked Cyar just as fast. 

I also liked Aurelia right away. I loved her attitude and her feistiness. She is the best kind of MC. I mean, from the beginning chapter with her authority and stubbornness, I knew she was going to be my kinda girl. 

I knew from about chapter 3 that I was going to fall completely in love with this book. The writing is incredible. It reminds me so much of Laini Taylor's writing. Beautiful and pretty whimsical, in a sense. 

I disliked Uncle Tenak pretty quickly. He seemed like a real jerk. And I disliked Havis just as much.

I started getting a little confused with who was from the south and who was from the north, but after some rereading I got it all figured out.

Athan's father was horrible, but I really liked his mother. She was super sweet and I love how she wanted to protect Athan from his father. I thought his brothers were okay, and I liked his little sister a lot. 

Arrin was such a jerk. I get that he wants attention and that's why he acts so horrible but it still isn't right. I'm not sure why their little sister is so attached to him. 

I love love love Athan and Cyar's friendship. It was written so well! 

Man, the General doesn't play around. He killed that guy like it was nothing. I loved that Athan is completely different than him and thought it was super sweet that he went to go talk to his mom. 

The Queen inviting the general to the North is crazy! I couldn't believe that she actually thought he wouldn't turn on her. 

Ugh, that Illusionist was horrible. First, the fox with the bird in it's mouth to Aurelia, but then when he did to the Queen! At first, I couldn't believe it! But then I totally understood. 

Man so many deceptions. Throughout the whole book, I never know who to trust. I felt so bad for Aurelia when she discovered what was on that letter and that her mother might be working with the Seath. 

When Athan's mother was murdered I knew it was going to happen. But it still made me really sad. 

Oh goodness, that part where Cyar is comforting Athan after his mother's death!!!! All. The. Feels.

So the scene with Arrin, Kalt, Athan, and their father in the council room made me fall more in love with this book! I was so curious to find out what the Queen and Dakars relationship was in the past. I kept thinking, maybe they were in love with each other at one time. 

I totally thought Arrin was a huge jerk at the beginning... which he was, but him in the council room made him one of my favorites. He is such a funny character. But I really loved how he stood up to his father! 

I felt so bad for Leannya. She is the only girl in the family and now has lost her mother and so scared to lose her brothers. I was so glad she let her anger out and that Athan went after her to talk to her.

Seriously, when Athan is talking to his drunk father, I actually liked him and has some sort of compassion for him. But I almost felt like it was a trick. He is not a trustworthy man.  But I still somewhat believed him. My mind was blown during their conversation because the general made Sinora look like she was the evil one and not him. That he is doing what he has to for the country and his people, and that Sinora is doing everything for herself. 

Ugh, the confusion gets even worse after Sinora and Aurelia's talk!!! At this point, I had no idea who to trust and who to believe. 

I was so happy for Athan that he made Top Flight.

To add to my trust issues in this book, I had no idea what side Havis is truly on. I can't say that I was at all surprised by this though. He is such a greasy, untrustworthy character. 

I know that Aurelia is totally on her mother's side, and I get why. But I really thought that when she sided with her mother instead of her brother, it was a wrong call. And I felt so horrible for the horse. The whole situation is terrible. Their family is being torn apart and I'm pretty sure Reni was super hurt because Aurelia didn't back him up.

And finally, the moment we have been waiting for. The meeting of Aurelia and Athan!!!! Their first actual encounter was so dang cute! Athan is super smooth. I knew he was only "playing the part" for his father and family, but you could totally tell they were going to hit it off!

Okay, the part where Aurelia messed her Uncle up was hilarious. And what was more hilarious was that her mom laughed at it!

Loved that Aurelia wanted to sit outside just to see Athan. Once they started having feelings for each other is the best.

Oh, Athan. SO dang funny!!!!! I loved his sense of humor and his wittiness. Remi and his argument was super good and even better was Remi punching him!!!!

I started getting super anxious about the secrets between Aurelia and Athan. I was so scared of how Aurelia would take the news. 

Wow, Reni really knew some stuff about the General that even Athan didn't know. 

I loved Athan and Aurelia's hike!!! I even loved their argument by the top of the hill. They are so cute together. 

So we finally find out that Reni knows who Athan really is. Not sure why he doesn't tell his sister though.

I seriously dislike the mess out of Havis. 

Also, just to put this out there... I have no idea why Violet like Garrick at all. 

What I already knew to be the truth is finally out. Aurelia's mother does plan for her to marry Havis. Ugh. And the cousin seemed very interesting. When we first meet him I just wasn't too sure about him. 

I was so glad that Heathwyn gave Aurelia Athan's letter. I know she didn't want to, but she did it anyways. 

I really liked Efran Merlant. He seemed like a good guy. A guy that you could trust. It's a breath of fresh air when you can't trust many of these characters. I enjoyed reading about Athan and Cyar's time with Merlant.

I couldn't believe that Lark is Nahir!!!! I knew we would find something strange about him but I didn't see that one coming. I loved how Aurelia decided to sit on this information and take time to figure things out. 

Eek! Reni wanting to take the throne early! 

This book just keeps getting better! Finding out that Arrin had something to do with these horrors made me sad. Even though he said it wasn't him I'm not too sure I can believe him.  This information made me really scared because when Aurelia finds out about Athan it's going to be horrible!  It's going to be worse than I thought. This book kept me so dang anxious!

I know why Athan didn't tell her when he saw her, but I really wish he would have.

Wow! Finding out that Lark is the Southern man was crazy!!! 

And Remi!!! I still am not sure why he and Arrin seemed so buddy buddy. 

throughout this whole end of the book, my mind kept getting blown!!! Aurelia really took control of the situation and I am so glad. She knew what to do. I hate that she shot Lark though. That is something she will have a very hard time recovering from. But I totally understood why! 

The ending was So. Dang. Good!!!! But at the same time, I felt so hollow. I need to know what happens next!!!! I need the second book asap!!!!!!

 

I am so thankful that I was able to get this arc!!!! Thank you Joanna for such an amazing book!!!!!! 

 

 
 
 
 
 
 

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