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Reviewed by Delene Vrey for Readers' Favorite
Time's Orphan by Hayley Chow is a YA fantasy that tells the story of Emara, who lives in Okarria, a land destroyed by war and overrun by cannibals and the undead doing the bidding of the Dead King. A mage and a necromancer have resurrected Idriel, or the Dead King as he is known, but they need a Time Heir, blessed with a healing gift, to heal Idriel's broken body. Emara has hidden her gift of healing all her life and only uses it to help ease pain and heal minor wounds. When the city of Faveno falls to the enemy, she is captured and taken to Austerden, where the Dead King rules. On her way there, she is joined by a talking black cat and reunited with the Shadow Heir and Dragon Heir. Together, they can kill the Dead King and save their beloved Okaria. But just as all seems lost, something miraculous happens, and Emara is sent back in time with the order to find Bellaphia, a Magus who can help her with her gift as the Time Heir. In the past, she makes friends with a street rat and the second in line Time Heir. Together, they travel to the deadlands, face death, and find Bellaphia. As Emara's gift grows, she learns how to overcome the enemies waiting for her back in her own time. If only she could save her friends from the death she saw claim them. Only when she returns will she know what happened and if she can save her friends and her country.
Time's Orphan by Hayley Chow is a riveting YA fantasy with immersive world-building and intriguing characters. The story develops fast, and continuous action drives the plot and creates a feeling of urgency within the reader. The book touches on themes like betrayal, loyalty, fate, and bravery. The effects of war on people and the environment in which they live are highlighted by juxtaposing the war-ravaged Okaria with the peaceful and prosperous Okaria to which Emara is sent back. The characters are authentic and show growth and development throughout the events. There is a sweet element of romance. What I liked about this book is that, although it is the third in the series, you don't need to have read the previous books as it can be read as a stand-alone. This is a series I recommend to avid YA fantasy readers of all ages.