Two days ago, I saw a tweet from the Book Smugglers about the release of their first title in the Novella Initiate, Keeper of the Dawn by Dianna Gunn. They sent me an epub to read (which in no way affects the honesty of this review), and I found myself wanting to devour it without stop once I got started. Unfortunately, that was late at night after a long day, so my eyes kept closing and I had to stop about 2/3 in. But I picked it up again this morning!
This was a fantastic, short read! It was almost perfect; I just wanted more world building. But that’s a problem I have with any short fiction pieces. I always find myself wanting more.
What I did get was great characters and a plot that spoke to me on a deeper level. It was something I needed right now when my life is mental turmoil. The whole story is based on being able to achieve your dreams and goals, but you may not make it there the way you thought you would. It was very uplifting to read a story where the protagonist just follows down the path that was chosen for them because of a prophecy or fate. Lai knows what she wants, her path is littered with affirmations that she’ll get it, but then she fails and has to readjust.
Along the way, she discovers more about herself and the world she lives in. We also get a beautifully told female/female relationship that doesn’t feel forced, nor is it just there. It provides support and stability for Lai when the rest of her life is in turmoil.
Since this is a novella, I don’t want to give away too much, so I’ll stop here. But know that I loved this piece, and can’t wait to see what else the Novella Initiate has to offer us.
Sometimes failure is just the beginning
All Lai has ever wanted is to become a priestess, like her mother and grandmother before her, in service to their beloved goddess. That’s before the unthinkable happens, and Lai fails the trials she has trained for her entire life. She makes the only choice she believes she can: she runs away.
From her isolated desert homeland, Lai rides north to the colder, stranger kingdom of Alanum—a land where magic, and female warriors, are not commonplace.
Here, she hears tales about a mountain city of women guardians and steel forgers, worshiping goddesses who sound very similar to Lai’s own. Determined to learn more about these women, these Keepers of the Dawn, Lai travels onward to find their temple. She is determined to make up for her past failure, and will do whatever it takes to join their sacred order.
Falling in love with another initiate was not part of the plan.
Keeper of the Dawn is a tale of new beginnings, second chances, and the endurance of hope.