Author: Dana Clare
Under the cruel ministrations of its Queen, the Kingdom of D’Land is in peril. With King Harrison away in foreign lands and neighboring Kingdoms unwilling to intervene, there is no one to protect the people from poverty, harsh punishment, and unreasonable rules of law – except for the Band of Brothers. Struggling with the death of her mother and the legendary Syphon powers she inherited, seventeen year old Dru wants nothing more than to escape her old life and join the motley crew of ruffians, pilfering from the rich to feed the poor and pay their taxes. She’s able to do just that disguised as a lad, and even when her nature is discovered, nothing changes – except for the way her friend Hawkin treats her. But Dru’s new world is overturned when she and the Brothers seize the treasures of a Prince who threatens to reveal her identity. Together, Dru and her chosen family must find a way to reclaim her destiny and bring balance to the Kingdom. If not, there may be no hope left for anyone.
The Reclaimed Kingdom is the start of a captivating new series that gave me vibes from the Blood and Ash series meets a dash of Snow White from Once Upon a Time tv show. Our heroine is disguising herself as a boy to hide out from the Queen. She is hiding with the Band of Brothers, who rob royalty and others who oppress others in order to help them. Although the Band of Brothers know that she is a girl, she is presented as another brother member to outsiders, however, the brotherhood doesn’t know her full backstory and the fact that she has multiple secrets that she is hiding.
The novel opens with Dru describing her life among the Band of Brothers. Her best friend and confidant is Hawkin, who she has a very close relationship with both him and his sister, Pea, who they call Sweet Pea. The Band of Brothers and Dru have a very fun relationship where they are a family not related by blood. Their banter and bonds were very heart-warming and entertaining as it was nice to see how they looked out for each other and each contributed to the group; each of them had their own set of skills and each of their personalities brought something different to the table, which made their scenes very enjoyable to read. There is a part of me that wishes for a prequel to see Dru’s beginning with the Band of Brothers and how she integrated herself in their group as I loved their bond and it would be nice to see how it all started.
The Band of Brothers rob a royal caravan and it happens to belong to Prince Edward (“Dodge”) of the neighboring kingdom that Dru is from. Dodge also happens to be a childhood friend of Dru’s when they grew up together. Luckily, it does not seem that Dru is recognized as Dodge becomes aware of the cause the Band of Brothers is fighting for and readily agrees to join as he wants to fight the evil queen as well. Together the Band of Brothers work together with Dodge to create a plan to fight and get rid of the evil queen, who may or may not be a magical creature called a Leech.
In addition to the adventure to take down the queen, Dru finds herself in the middle of a love triangle between Dodge and Hawkin. Unlike a lot of novels, this one was well-balanced in how the story included the romance as it did not take over and the main focused remained on the journey to band together for their main goal to reclaim the kingdom. Hawkin’s feelings sometimes gets lost as he seemed a little back and forth about how he felt about Dru at first. He was still a great character and I felt that he and Dru had a great bond, but it sometimes did not feel like the romance chemistry was as strong to make him a viable candidate for the love triangle. On the other hand, Dodge has the added history with Dru and he supports Dru and her cause unconditionally. The chemistry between him and Dru is there from the start and is more obvious than it was with Hawkin, which tends to tip the scales in Dodge’s favor in the readers’ eyes. There is no absolutely conclusion, so I cannot wait how this plays out in the sequel(s).
The magic in this novel is fantastic and I loved learning about these new creatures, such as, Syphons and Leeches. I loved reading about the magic and felt it added a fun twist to a fantasy story. The story has a lot of action and the tension is well-done to make the reader become very involved in the story. I found myself not wanting to put this novel down as you want to see what will happen next. Based on this novel, I am curious about how this series will turn out as you wonder what twists and turns will appear in future novels as there were multiple in this one. I hope that the future ones dig deeper into the supporting characters as I want to learn more about the members in the Band of Brothers in addition to our main three.
Overall, this was a very fun read and a promising start to an entertaining series. The author took familiar pieces of the fantasy and romance genres and put them in an original story that was very enjoyable and captivating. There were some parts that I wish would have gone a different way, but as the start of a series, I have faith that the potential is there to continue on and make it a memorable series. I can’t wait to read what happens next!
**I give a special thank you to BookSirens, Chamberlain Publishing House, and the author, Dana Claire, for an ARC to read. The opinions expressed are completely my own.**