The Dark Solstice

Young Adult - Fantasy - General
331 Pages
Reviewed on (not set)
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    Book Review

Reviewed by Liz Konkel for Readers' Favorite

The Dark Solstice by N.L. Willcome is the first book in An Empyrian Odyssey series. When a Lord in the city of Empyria dies, Tamsin Urbane is ushered out of the only place she's called home and into the desert. While exploring the city with new friends, Tamsin ends up separated and lost in the dunes, only to be saved by the mysterious Haven. Spending time with him, she learns that his villages of the Ma'diin have come to speak with the Lords of the city over a dam in the river. When negotiations begin, a deal is made and Tamsin's father goes with the Ma'diin while Haven is brought into the city. As he watches over her, the two become closer and Tamsin discovers secrets of her past that could change her future.

N.L. Willcome opens up an amazing world with a rich history and vibrant characters. The history between the Empyrians and the Ma'diins slowly unravels events that led to the present. As Tamsin learns about Haven's life and this desert city, this whole other world unfolds with conspiracy, traitors, and surprising loyalty. Haven and Tamsin come from two different worlds, both are outsiders in different ways, but through this they find a connection. Their budding relationship is sweet and sincere. Tamsin's life is plotted out for her, right down to who her mother insists she marries, but as she gets to know Haven, she sees the darker and underhanded aspects of the city. Seeing the city through Tamsin's eyes takes you on the adventure with her the more she learns. Haven is a complex character and a favorite, as he has to go into this strange world where everyone looks down on him and he has to hide in the shadows. He has a dark history, always in the shadows, but he's also the spark that Tamsin needed in her life and she sees him for who he is. The Dark Solstice is a compelling and addictive read, with mythology, romance, and betrayal. A must-read for fantasy lovers!

Ray Simmons

The Dark Solstice by N.L. Willcome is book one in a series called An Empyrian Odyssey. I liked it. The writing is a little foreboding, some might even say dark, but it is good writing, with an incredible attention to detail. I think this level of detail is necessary when a writer is building a world that he or she wants readers to understand, immerse themselves in, and enjoy. N.L. Willcome accomplished those things in The Dark Solstice. This is a desert world and it was easy to see how this impacts the humans that live in it. I got a good feeling for the society involved, mostly in references to the heroine’s mother, who is the epitome of an aristocratic woman. This is an exceptional introduction to a series because it lays out the world so well. In the books that follow it will be easy for the reader to just dive in and enjoy.

All of the elements of a good novel are present in The Dark Solstice. First and foremost, I appreciated the good writing. I also appreciated the detail given to the society and how that society has been shaped by the desert, and its violent past. I liked the way N.L. Willcome portrayed characters. I especially liked the relationship between Tasmin and her father. The relationship between mother, father, and daughter is classic, but comes across as fresh in this different culture. The plot is good, and moves at an unhurried pace. Love complicates things, but it usually does. I hope to read more about this world, and these characters in the books to follow.

Rabia Tanveer

The Dark Solstice by Nikki Leigh Willcome is the story of two people who meet by chance and fight to remain together against all odds. Tamsin Urbane left the comfort of her home and moved to the dry, desert city of Empyria. She and her family moved there together, but when an unfortunate accident occurs, Tamsin is now alone and stranded in the dunes with no help in sight. Fearing that she will die of thirst and heat, she is ready to give up. However, help comes in the form of a stranger who can help her survive. Her savior is Haven, a hunter who is sent to confront the people of Empyria about the dam they have built in the river.

He was expecting to go in, do his job, and go back to his peaceful existence with his tribe. He was not expecting to feel this way about the beautiful Tamsin. She is strong, silent and ready to fight any battle. He did not want the complication, never needed it. But the heart wants what it wants and there is no stopping the connection between them. As blows come at them from all sides, these two lost souls stick together to weather the storm.

I liked the connection between Tamsin and Haven. This was not instant love and Haven was not cruel to Tamsin (as is the norm with current novels). Their relationship gradually built and blossomed. Haven was strong and resilient, but the real star of the novel for me was Tamsin. She had character, her development was gradual, and she blossomed right in front of my eyes into a fierce woman who was ready to battle it all and come out victorious. I really enjoyed her progress! I loved this book.