I received an eARC of Shielded by KayLynn Flanders from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. And stick around for an interview with the author after my review!
Here is the synopsis from Goodreads:
The kingdom of Hálendi is in trouble. It’s losing the war at its borders, and rumors of a new, deadlier threat on the horizon have surfaced. Princess Jennesara knows her skills on the battlefield would make her an asset and wants to help, but her father has other plans.
As the second-born heir to the throne, Jenna lacks the firstborn’s–her brother’s–magical abilities, so the king promises her hand in marriage to the prince of neighboring Turia in exchange for resources Hálendi needs. Jenna must leave behind everything she has ever known if she is to give her people a chance at peace.
Only, on the journey to reach her betrothed and new home, the royal caravan is ambushed, and Jenna realizes the rumors were wrong–the new threat is worse than anyone imagined. Now Jenna must decide if revealing a dangerous secret is worth the cost before it’s too late–for her and for her entire kingdom.
This is such a badass book with a badass main character. Jenna, our main character, is a Princess who lives her life training, studying, and hiding the fact that she has magic she’s not supposed to posses. Her father sends her off to the neighboring kingdom to be wed to the Crown Heir, Prince Enzo, but tragedy strikes when their caravan is attacked on the way there. The princess, in all her glory, takes us on a wild journey through magical forest, epic battles, and love rollercoasters.
I loved this book! It was a fun ride with action, mystery, and love – all the things you could ask for in a great YA fantasy novel. The beginning was a little slow, which makes sense since we are being introduced to this kingdom and their history, but the plot quickly picks up and takes the reader on a wild ride. I loved how the magic system was explained and how it worked. The rules that could and could not be broken upped the antics and made the stakes much higher for Jenna.
Speaking of Jenna, I love this character. She’s fierce, smart, but so kind. It was nice to see a badass female character also not be a jerk. I think all too often we get the rough girls that can’t be loved and never enough of the tough girls who love just as fiercely. It was so refreshing. We meet a lot of snarky, sassy, lovely characters in this series and the villains are top notch. Their motivation is clear, their path is set, and while they lack a bit of one on one interaction, they are still a serious threat.
This book is great for anyone who loves action, adventure, and tough girls. Jenna is not only a tough cookie, but such a sweetheart and I love her interactions with everyone she meets. She’s the kind of MC you want to be friends with. This was a solid .5//5 stars for me.
Now, let’s get into the real serious stuff with the author of Shielded herself – KayLynn Flanders! I was fortunate enough to be able to interview KayLynn about her experience writing Shielded and her life as a writer overall.
1. What inspired you to write Shielded?
Shielded started from a dream. The dream was really different from what the book turned into (there were neon yellow tanks in the dream?), but the emotions for the moment in the dream stayed. I won’t share spoilers, but there were people in danger, and I woke up before they were safe. My heart was pounding so hard at the cliffhanger, and I needed to find a way for them to be okay so I could go back to sleep. So I came up with a solution, but the characters stayed with me. I let that idea grow over a few months, asking questions about who the characters were, why they were in danger, and how they got out of danger, and eventually, it all became Shielded.
2. If you could choose to live in the world of Shielded, would you and where?
Definitely! I’d love to see all of the Plateau, but I’d probably feel most at home in Turia. I love farmland and orchards.
3. Hardest part about writing your book?
Keeping the little subplot pieces tightly weaved throughout every chapter is hard for me—I forget things really fast. But I’m always learning new ways to revise to help me keep track of everything better!
4. Can you tell us about any deleted scenes you wish could have stayed in the book?
Enzo used to have point-of-view chapters. I loved them, but it was the right choice to take them out. If you’re screaming WHY right now, it’s because the story is Jenna’s—Enzo didn’t have the arc that she does. I’m hoping to release some of them after the book comes out, though!
5. Favorite thing about writing/publishing a book?
I love creating the kind of story I want to read. I love seeing my drafts get better and better and closer to the original inspiration (or take a turn for the even better than I’d planned).
6. Any writing advice you can give?
Don’t be afraid to re-write. If something isn’t working, find different ways to see your story and use different mediums (paper and pen, white board, etc.) when brainstorming. Don’t be so locked in to an idea that you get stuck.
7. Any current works or plans for writing in progress?
Yes! I’m working with my editor on a sequel to Shielded, and it’s shaping up to be a lot of fun—high stakes, new lands, two POVs. I’ve also got a retelling I’m working on that I really love (and hope you all get to see someday).
8. If Shielded became a movie/TV show – who would be your dream cast?
So, the ages aren’t quite right on this, and I’ve only got a few I’ve thought about, but I’d go with a younger
Saoirse Ronan (Jennesara)
Ben Barnes (Enzo)
William Moseley (Ren)
But I’m open to suggestions!!
9. What is your favorite book and did it have any affect on your writing?
I don’t think I can name a single Most Influential Book. Every book I read leaves its mark inside me and helps shape who I am and how I see the world. Growing up, I read several classics with sweeping language that captured emotion, I read sci-fi with mind-blowing twists, and fantasy with epic adventures. I try to bring all my favorite parts about reading into every story I write.
Thank you KayLynn for taking the time to answer my questions! If you’re looking for a great debut novel, check this one out! You won’t regret it.
And be sure to preorder Shielded before it releases on July 21st, 2020! I will provide links to order below and be sure to preorder from your local indie store if possible! 🙂
One More Page Books (my local indie)
If this book sounds interesting, I would also check out Of Silver and Shadows by Jennifer Gruenke or The Guinevere Deception by Kiersten White.
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