The Marked Ones

Ghost Within, #1

Fiction - Fantasy - Epic
218 Pages
Reviewed on (not set)
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    Book Review

Reviewed by Rabia Tanveer for Readers' Favorite

The Marked Ones: Ghost Within #1 by Nickey T. Hawke is the story of two people on opposite sides, yet both of them face a task that tests them beyond their limits. The novel follows Kiera and Gideon, both of them competent and skilled people, yet they are tasked with something that is making them second guess everything that they ever did or will do. It is a dark time to be labeled as the Marked Ones. These are refugees who are considered a threat to the City because, when they die, they are destined to return as undead and become a huge issue for the City and its people. This is why the Swordmasters are given the task of capturing the Marked Ones. The only place safe for them is New Haven, but reaching this district is a challenge.

Our story begins when a team is sent to rescue Marked Ones and take them safely to New Haven. Kiera is a counselor in the team and it is her duty to bring all of the Marked Ones to safety. However, it is not easy, especially when there are people who are just waiting for her to fail. On the other side, there is Gideon, a squad leader for the Swordmasters, who is tasked to bring in as many Marked Ones as possible, regardless of the fact that they are innocent. He knows this is his job, but his conscience is telling him something else. What should he do? Should he do what he is ordered to, or should he risk it all and help the Marked Ones reach the safety of New Haven?

Intense and fast paced, The Marked Ones is one of a kind gem that you rarely come across. This is an EPIC fantasy (emphasis on EPIC because it is so awesome) that will have you hooked from the get go. I loved Kiera, but more than that, I loved Gideon. Together, these two showed perfect parallels and made me want to root for both of them. Their struggle was painful and they both knew it; however, they were determined to do what they had to and this made them even more awesome to me. This is definitely one of those novels that you recommend to absolutely anyone who likes to read because it has the ability to appeal to all kinds of readers. The cover is beautiful!

Sarah Scheele

The Marked Ones is the first book in the Ghost Within fantasy series by Nickey T. Hawke. A unique young adult novel accompanied by numerous manga-style illustrations, the story follows a young leader of a squad of Swordmasters, the police of the self-sustaining City of Hope. Beyond the City, undead ghouls roam in armies controlled by a man who has gained immortality. The survivors of the war are forced to take a mark that will spare their lives, but turn them into ghouls if they die. The Marked Ones stream into the City as refugees seeking a better life—but the City views them as dangerous threats. When Gideon’s misfit squad is assigned to capture Marked Ones in an abandoned mansion, an encounter with a young woman smuggling in the refugees leads him to question the whole nature of his mission. With so many voices of reason on all sides, Gideon must find his way alone.

Nickey T. Hawke’s The Marked Ones has a rich moral and social complexity that goes beyond the world building of most fantasy novels. The themes of friendship, romance, revenge, and hope are woven into a detailed political picture as Gideon struggles to make the right decision. Will he let the Marked Ones go, allowing them a second chance instead of punishing them for their plight, or will he fulfill his mission to protect his city? Those who aid the Marked Ones do not go unpunished. Amid a raid on a mansion with a hidden portal and an evil spirit in it, the views of those around Gideon—his outgoing friend, his earnest cousin, his bitter commander, and Kiera, the woman he’s falling in love with—add layers of tension that build from a quiet beginning to a tense, nail-biting conclusion. As much a profound drama on the human condition as an action-packed story, The Marked Ones stands out in a sea of young adult stories. Recommended.

Liz Konkel

The Marked Ones by Nickey T. Hawke is the first book in the Ghost Within series. The Marked Ones are marked so when they die, they will return as the undead in an army controlled by the Immortal Lord Hezekiah. New Haven is the only safe place for the Marked Ones if they're able to escape. Kiera is a counselor sent with a team in order to help a group of the Marked refugees escape to New Haven. While she and her team go to save them, there are others that have less merciful intentions in mind. Gideon is a Swordmaster sent with his squad to capture the Marked Ones and bring them back to be imprisoned, but as he nears them, he struggles with right and wrong.

Nickey T. Hawke has created a rich and vast world that's chaotic and detailed, with a focus on characters that are outcasts. Gideon's team is filled with people who wouldn't necessarily be called heroic, but each one is likable and has the strength it takes to be a hero. Two opinions on the Marked Ones are shown through Gideon and Kiera, with their voices reading as if they're talking directly to you, putting you into the action with them. Kiera and Gideon have strong voices, both are similar in the aspect that they're conflicted. Both are compassionate and trying to determine what their beliefs in this world truly are, except they're on different sides. Gideon doesn't set out to be heroic. He makes mistakes, has fears, and flaws, but he honestly tries to do the right thing and that makes him commendable. Kiera is a strong personality with determination and a kind heart. She's dedicated to saving the Marked refugees, and is easy to relate to. The Marked Ones is rich in story with action that feels almost cinematic, a story of survival and finding one's place in the world.