Sunday, 26 April 2020

BOOK REVIEW: Death Warden by C.J. Stilling

Death Warden
Author: C.J. Stilling
Publisher: Fantastically Minded
Publication Date: 15th November 2019
Genre: YA Fantasy

Book Description:
A teenage assassin. An impossible choice. The fate of everything hangs in the balance…

Sixteen-year-old Reen swore she’d never take another life. Divinely selected to assassinate a few in order to save many, she learned to jump from shadow to shadow and claim her victims without question… until she was ordered to kill the boy she loved. But when an ancient plague returns threatening to infect everyone she knows, she is forced to resume her deadly duties.

Battling a disease that turns people into nightmarish monsters, Reen must track down and terminate those responsible before the city falls, and the evil spreads beyond its borders. But the closer she gets to the source, the more she uncovers sinister secrets that will shake the foundations of her world and everything she believes.

Can Reen defend her realm without losing her soul?

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Wow. This was a pleasant surprise. I didn't have any expectations, but whatever little I did expect, it certainly wasn't this. The YA fantasy genre had long waned in attaining my undivided attention, and then, boom, Reen and her deadly squad of misfits comes along and gives me hope. This was definitely the kind of original, ass-kicking, supernatural adventure I was looking for.

Reminiscent of the biblical story of Lucifer and his banishment from heaven, Death Warden takes readers on a pilgrimage where there is no abolute barrier between good and evil. After being banished from the Haven Isles by the Life Giver, the Custodians (fallen angels) seek revenge upon discovering the Life Giver's plan to send the Celestials to unleash a deadly plague known as the Scourge to end human life. After imprisoning the Celestials and stopping the Scourge, the Custodians did the unthinkable and formed soul-bonds with humans, transforming the average human into a Death Warden, a person with an ability to see things most people can't see - a world hidden from normal eyes.

Sixteen-year-old Reen is a Death Warden, chosen to save the world at the tender age of fourteen after a hopeless life as a homeless thief living in the attic of a blacksmith. Finally feeling worthy, she embraces her new life. This gift, however, comes with a price, one that bears a heavy burden on her conscience. To save the world, Reen must kill. Reen has seen her fair share of gruesome deaths over the past two years, most of which she is to blame for. Distraught at the catastrophe she has caused, even if it is deemed for the better of the world, she decides enough is enough. She will kill no more. There's a problem with her plan, however. There's someone killing Death Wardens, and if Reen intends on staying alive and saving the lives of her loved ones, she has to decide whether saving her soul is more important than saving the lives of those she holds dear to her heart.

This is one of those books I can pictue being adapted for the big screen. It would work really well as a movie - full of action, adventure, mystery and a handful of deaths. Oh, and not to mention the fantastic supernatural element. The world building was amazing. The story really came to life. I could picture everything, from the characters to the scenery and the fight scenes. It was very cinematic, which I loved as my mind easily drifts when stories start to drag and characters start to become impassive. Thankfully, that wasn't the case here. Death Warden features a plethora of colourful characters whose worlds were nicely intertwined. Reen carried the story like a true warrior. She was badass and bold. Even though she hated being a Death Warden for the simple fact that her conscience couldn't tolerate all the killing, I liked that she was unapologetic in the way she went about her life. She knew what she was and hated what she'd become, but she didn't wallow in self pity. She just got on with it and didn't make any excuses. The only thing I wasn't too much of a fan of was the obvious similarities between Bastian and Erend. It was hard to separate them. At one point I even wondered if Erend's soul had transferred to Bastian's body and perhaps that was the real cause behind Bastian's memory loss. Yes, I have given much thought to it, but it's only because I see Erend every time Bastian comes into the picture.

Aside from that minor issue, I loved the book. Loved the cover also. This was an all-round great read, and I am thankful to have been given the opportunity to read it. I loved the writing style. Stilling is cetainly one to watch.


Award: Platinum
Rating: 5 out of 5 Stars
Source: Author

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