Dawn of Wonder (The Wakening, Book #1)
By Jonathan Renshaw
This book right here: It absolutely blew me away. It’s one of the highest quality fantasy adventures I’ve read in a really long time, and this is going to be a solid 1000 words of me absolutely glowing about it. While there are so many words I could use to describe it, EPIC is at the top of the list and I would give it 6 stars if that was possible. So much ground is covered and so much story is told in these pages, and by the time you finish it you will genuinely feel like you have gone on an adventure that lasted years.
[ If anyone has read this I would love to happily babble about it with you and if you have read any books that are super similar I’d love to know about them because I need more of that in my life. ]
Aedan has a heart of gold while simultaneously staying relatable as a human being, which is so refreshing to read about. As a reader, you’re right there with him as unspeakable tragedy befalls his best friend in the beginning of the book that changes who he is and the trajectory of his life forever. His world opens up and becomes a lot bigger and a lot more dangerous than he could have ever imagined as a deep and powerful magic slowly awakens and calls his name.
He grows and matures over the course of the book, which is essential for one this size and for the years the book spans, but he stays himself. Aedan observes what many others his age do not, and he has an extra dose of creativity that is expressed in several different ways. He learns lessons, sometimes the hard way (and you facepalm as he does so), develops deep friendships that are unique, interesting, and dynamic, and eventually you rejoice with him when he finally experiences freedom from a crippling fear that you have watched him suffer from for so long.
The quality of the writing is unbelievably impressive, and I appreciate the time and effort it must have taken the author to research the amount of weaponry, battle strategy, and more that I absolutely had no clue about beforehand. I never felt like the book dragged or went too fast. There are several different plot threads all running together, because Aedan can’t be without adventure. He sneaks out of his room in the middle of night to discover it, and he loves bringing his friends along. So while there is a pause in one thread while he trains for one goal, he also puts himself smack dab in the middle of another adventure. And these switch off at a pace that is just healthy enough to keep you enraptured because you never know what he will be doing when you turn the page. He might be sneaking into a forbidden room in the academy, helping a family get the funds they need from selling soup at a festival, learning how to forge his own sword, or taking a shortcut across grounds that are off limits and landing himself in a blackmailing trap.
And every once in a while, on his journeys across the land and along mysterious mountain roads, he encounters a power so great it reaches his very bones. Mystery, joy, pain, revenge, and genuine, self-sacrificing love are all masterfully stitched into the very backbone of this story and I will probably have to read it many times before I can fully appreciate it all.
There’s an ancient beauty, a piece of that wonder, or a glimmer at something that many don’t know how to put their finger on, woven into the narrative that is absolutely breathtaking, and how Renshaw managed to capture that in ink I will never know. I don’t even know what that is exactly. Writers who are gifted in this way are so talented, and I pray they never underestimate it or keep it bottled up inside. I cannot imagine that capturing even the faintest essence of something so real and so powerful is easy (or even painless), but you can practically smell the artistry involved, and I’m so grateful this story exists. The author says on his website (here: http://www.jrenshaw.com/) that he wanted to capture something he couldn’t quite define, and I can easily say he did exactly that.
Once you get to the last 300 pages, you won’t be able to stop for a snack break, let alone put it down for the night. I think I read for a solid 5 hours before remembering that dinner was a thing, and even then I returned straight away and insisted on finishing it late into the night. This book is unpredictable in all the right places (who wants to read a book when you know exactly what will happen?), and in other spots it hints toward what you desperately hope for with a knowing smile that beckons you to read on. And once I reached it, my expectations were still blown out of the water.
I understand that Renshaw is in the middle of writing the sequel as well as several other projects currently, and I selfishly wish the process could be sped up so that I could read more about these characters as they discover Wonder and go on more amazing adventures. However, as a writer myself I know that the research and writing and editing (and well, every single thing about writing a novel) can’t be rushed if you want the end result to be of the highest quality, and because of that I am happy to wait for the next installment.
If y’all want to give this book a try I’ve included an amazon link here.
And if you would rather learn about the author first, or if you’re like me and want to check for updates on Book 2 every now and again, you can visit his website at: http://www.jrenshaw.com/
If you do decide to read this book, I’d love to hear your thoughts on it as well.