Monday, September 3, 2012

Review: The Messenger by Leah Rose

Hi all!

Here's a review of a historical YA. Enjoy!

Author: Leah Rose
Release date: 22th of May 2012
Reading level: FICTION – JUVENILE: Historical, Adventure, Romance, YA
Pages: 268 in Paperback
Source: Bought from the Book Depository

Sixteen year old Jeilin leaves the ordinary behind when she's inducted into the king's service as a horseback riding messenger. She expects a life of adventure and freedom, but those hopes are shattered after being captured by a foreign army.

Given the choice between death and conversion, she swears service to the enemy even though, in her heart, she remains loyal to her kingdom.

As Jeilin's youthful innocence crumbles, she wonders if the prince will still be fond of her; if she can even find a way to help place him back on his rightful throne.

Full of turmoil and sacrifice, The Messenger is a powerful tale of survival, bravery, and loyalty.

I haven’t read many YA with a medieval setting so I’m not in any way knowledgeable in this theme, but I can say that I really enjoyed this book. It didn’t possess the lightness of most YA, instead it read as something quite serious and, honestly, that was a welcome change for me.

While slightly dry at times with a quite slow start once the action begins it is nonstop and the pace is fast and eventful. The story is also rather brutal, there is nothing too shocking but it has its fare share of blood, death and battle and the reality of those is not softened for the reader despite this being a YA book. I wouldn’t want to see only flowers and bunnies in a story in a medieval background, so this is something I liked about this book. The author isn’t afraid to make the plot realistic, which is also demonstrated by the fact that she isn’t afraid to kill off prominent characters.

Another aspect I found positive in the story was the lack of magic, the paranormal or anything supernatural, which I’ve grown accustomed to encounter in most YA. This book just focuses on extraordinary people in extraordinary circumstance without any mystical and unexplainable aid. The messengers were not fighters, they only had themselves, their horse and a letter, and despite this they played a highly important role and alone could change the course of the war. No magic or tricks, but plenty of appreciation and utter respect was sent their way.

A small quibble I had with the book was the addition of insta love to the main romantic relationship but to be honest I didn’t mind as much as I usually would have because the focus was on other issues and the love story wasn’t by far the central focus of the book.


Jeilin was a role model: driven, brave and honorable. She was very young and slightly too perfect regarding how she managed to show such valor, kindness and intelligence, but she made up for it with showing her fears, not always acting the most rational and beneficial for all in dire situations. All in all, she was likeable, kind and innocent, someone to root for.

Olwen was by far my favorite characters. She just showed a great deal of independence, intelligence and personality that you just have to admire. Her being like a big sister to Jeilin and a great support next to filling her duties as a loyal subject to her country and messenger made her the highlight of this book for me.

Prince Raihnin remained distant and mysterious, which isn’t necessarily a negative thing at all. He filled his purpose as the perfect noble prince but there wasn’t any detailed background info or major character development for him. He and Jeilin were a cute match.

Other characters all served their role and were nicely created but I would have liked to see more Cai, he was intriguing and there wasn’t nearly enough time spent on him. From when he was first introduced, I hoped he would play a bigger part in the story. Raihnin’s cousin, prince Stephen, was also a pleasant comical relief to the otherwise mostly solemn book. Jeilin’s family was very loving and supportive as well.


An enjoyable medieval set YA for those who crave something more serious and realistic. No fluff and wands for magic here. A traditional adventure with a strong heroine out to save her country and all dear to her. I recommend to all who want a slight change to the majority of YA books out there.

4 stars!



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