Disclaimer: I received a free electronic copy of this novel in exchange for an honest review.
Oak and Mist (The Ambeth Chronicles #1) by Helen Jones is a young adult fantasy novel. It follows the journey of Alma, a seemingly-normal teenage girl, who learns she is prophesized to find the lost Regalia of the land of Ambeth and restore the balance of Light and Dark in the world. If she fails, Ambeth and the human world will be lost to the Dark and eventually fall to destruction.
For fans of fantasy, Oak and Mist’s fictional realm, Ambeth, will be a dream. The land is beautifully described and has just the right amount of magic to be enchanting without feeling overdone. However, Ambeth is not perfect and peaceful. There is a subtle danger lurking behind the beauty, not only in members of the Dark but also in certain themes of the land, which leave the reader feeling just the right amount of unsettled.
The main characters in Oak and Mist are well-developed. Alma is a typical teenage girl—a little bold, a little shy, and very much prone to being love-struck. Caleb also has decent depth, as he struggles to balance his intellectual interest in the quest, his friendship for Alma, and his deeper feelings for her. The side characters are also well-developed; though they are not as complex as Alma and Caleb and sometimes feel a bit flat.
As far as plot as concerned, Alma’s quest is captivating and keeps the reader guessing. At times, the plot does become more preoccupied with Alma’s love life and friendships. While this provides good character development, I would have liked to actually sit in with Alma on some of her meetings with the elders and learn more about the lore of Ambeth. Moreover, the non-quest aspects of the novel take up so much of the text that the actual first part of the quest feels a bit too easy and makes the ending seem rushed. Likewise, at times, Alma’s crush on Deryck feels way too juvenile. I understand that this is a young adult novel, and I remember what it was like to be a teenage girl in “love,” but at times it feels forced and makes Alma seem shallow.
Overall, though, Oak and Mist is a fun and enchanting novel. Ambeth is a gorgeous and mysterious realm, and Alma’s quest will surely continue to be an intriguing adventure. I expect the target audience will enjoy the romantic subplot and some of the drama more than I did and will strongly identify with Alma and the other young characters. Fans of young adult fantasy will adore this novel.
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