Suz Eglington’s new YA fantasy, the first in a planned series, follows 16-year-old Kiara Noir as she discovers her mother’s magical legacy— and her own.
Kiara dreams of traveling the world and pursuing her passion for photography. For now, however, she lives quietly with her single mother, Willow.
Then Willow’s estranged sister comes calling, bringing chaos in her wake. Theirs is no ordinary family, but the rulers of an otherworldly kingdom called Homeland. Now that her past is closing in, Willow feels she must return there with Kiara.
In Homeland, Kiara discovers a largely unfriendly world. After her name appears in blood on the bark of the kingdom’s sacred tree, she understands she must vie with her cousin to become the kingdom’s next queen. As she taps into otherworldly abilities inherited from her mother, Kiara falls in love – with two different men – meets her father for the first time, and prepares to bring change to this hide-bound land.
Born Torn covers well-worn ground: a discontented young girl discovers she has magical powers and fantastical family secrets. The novel’s love triangle feels extraneous, while more details of the royal training Kiara undergoes with her grandmother would be welcome.
The characters of Kiara and Willow, however, more than make up for these drawbacks. Kiara is goodhearted and often funny. (“I don’t know my type,” she muses upon seeing attractive Homeland guards. “…Maybe I like muscular men in kilts?”). She’s also relatable —delighting in the fancy dresses she now gets to wear for dinner, for instance, while barely suppressing her disgust at the traditionally prepared game meats served.
Readers will empathize with Willow as she struggles to reconcile her desire for a peaceful life with her obligation to help Kiara fulfill her destiny. Eglington poignantly depicts these inner conflicts, along with delightful mother-daughter banter.
Despite some stock elements, Born Torn should please teen readers and ends on a cliffhanger that will likely leave them anticipating its sequel.
Also available in hardcover and ebook.