I’m hoping to start a new feature on Friday’s where I showcase a book or series I’ve really enjoyed. It’s not a book review. More like my random, fangirl gushing about books I absolutely adore.
I’d like to start with Mardan’s Mark and Healer’s Curse by Kathrese McKee.
About the book
Srilani is second in line to the throne, and she’s always known what is expected of a princess — bring honor to her family and marry well. Aldan has been a pirate’s slave for as long as he can remember, and all he wants is to be free. The Twin Kingdoms have been sister nations for centuries, but now their unity and existence are threatened by enemies both inside and outside their borders.
After pirates abduct Srilani and her three siblings, they are stranded behind enemy lines and across the Great Gulf. As the eldest, Srilani is faced with the dangerous task of bringing her father’s heir home. She convinces Aldan and his two fellow slaves to share their journey to freedom. These unlikely allies — seven young captives — must defeat the web of lies, murder, and betrayal tearing the kingdoms apart.
Read this book! Seriously! I heard lots of good things about it and was expecting a good book, and it still blew me away.
The characters are excellent. Srilani is a tough girl who can fight her way out of trouble but also has a vulnerable heart. Too many books and movies don’t get that balance. Either the girl is an almost heartless, kick everybody’s butt kind of girl or she needs saving all the time. Sometimes in Christian fiction, the tough girl is the one who needs to be softened until by the end of the book she’s totally given up her tough girl attitude. Srilani is none of those things. She both saves the guy and needs to be saved. She finds a way to be vulnerable but without losing her fighting edge.
Not only was Srilani awesome, but her male lead was also amazing! Aldan can hold his own with her and doesn’t fall into the helpless male sidekick stereotype.
Best of all, several of the other characters also got their own points of view in the book. The character voices were all distinct, so I was never confused.
I also adored the setting. Too many fantasy books fall into the trap of basing their setting only on Europe. It’s fantasy. It can be set anywhere. The setting in Mardan’s Mark is based off the Gulf Coast area of the United States, which gives it a flavor not found in many other fantasy novels.
Finally, the cultures of the different kingdoms are well-done. I could see parts of all kinds of cultures, but I never felt they were directly based off any one culture in the real world. The Christian aspect of the culture is well-done, and feels like an Old Testament kind of faith, which is neat.
Was this my curse? To lose everyone I loved?
What good is Elilan’s gift of healing if she can’t save those she loves? Elilan must risk failing once again or turn her back on her calling—and the stranger she’s learned to love—in Healer’s Curse.
After reading Mardan’s Mark, I wasn’t sure how Healer’s Curse could compete. The novella follows the events that are happening at home during the events of Book 1. I wasn’t disappointed. I could see how this novella was setting things up for book 2, but it also managed to be it’s own story. Elilan was strong like Srilani, but also vulnerable and I couldn’t help but root for her. And the main guy? Well, he gave Aldan a run for his money. I’m really looking forward to seeing all these characters together in the next book!
In the interest of full disclosure, I was given a copy of Healer’s Curse in exchange for my honest review/recommendation. I bought Mardan’s Mark myself.