The Namarielle (Chronicles of Lashai Book 1)
The characters, even those who appear for only a brief moment, feel like real people who live in this world. Our protagonists drive the story, from the heroine, Cassai, gaining independence and strength, to the hero, Elian, proving that one's lineage doesn't define him, to the antihero, Hollis, who treads the line of right and wrong. There is real history between the various characters that is not only revealed in well placed flashbacks but also through the dialogue, adding another layer of depth to this deeply imagined story, but the most compelling is between Elian and his older brother, Devilan. The Fontre are a truly terrifying race and the author doesn't shy away from detailing their wretched acts but the bonding moments between the brothers is oddly charming, despite the gruesome nature. One would never think teaching one's brother the most grisly ways to kill something to be an endearing moment, but Julien masterfully made it one of the most captivating scenes of the story.
The Namarielle is a wonderful first entry to what appears to be an epic fantasy series. With such a well developed world and strong characters, the reader is left craving more, on edge with anticipation for the next installment of the Chronicles of Lashai. I'll leave this review with my favorite quote from the book, one that not only summarizes the character of Cassai but the entirety of the novel: "There's always darkness in the world . . . But there's also dawn."
What a cliff hanger!