Dark Of The West by Joanna Hathaway (Glass Alliance #1)
Publisher: Tor Teen
Release Date: February 5, 2019
Available Through The Book Depository: Dark Of The West
Summary: Aurelia Isendare is a princess of a small kingdom in the North, raised in privilege but shielded from politics as her brother prepares to step up to the throne. Halfway around the world, Athan Dakar, the youngest son of a ruthless general, is a fighter pilot longing for a life away from the front lines. When Athan’s mother is shot and killed, his father is convinced it’s the work of his old rival, the Queen of Etania—Aurelia’s mother. Determined to avenge his wife’s murder, he devises a plot to overthrow the Queen, a plot which sends Athan undercover to Etania to gain intel from her children.
Athan’s mission becomes complicated when he finds himself falling for the girl he’s been tasked with spying upon. Aurelia feels the same attraction, all the while desperately seeking to stop the war threatening to break between the Southern territory and the old Northern kingdoms that control it—a war in which Athan’s father is determined to play a role. As diplomatic ties manage to just barely hold, the two teens struggle to remain loyal to their families and each other as they learn that war is not as black and white as they’ve been raised to believe.
My Rating: ★★★★☆ ½
My Thoughts: Dark Of The West is a historical fantasy-esque tale, weaved together with WW-infused elements! This novel is filled with geopolitics, intrigue, and an incredibly complex cast of characters! Hathaway’s debut is a slow-building, but wholly immersive novel that will keep you thinking with each and every page!
You know those books that just have such a layered and complex world, that you can picture yourself hopping on a plane & heading to that fictional setting?
Dark Of The West was one of those books! The way Hathaway built the history, evolving politics, atmosphere, and beliefs of differing countries such as Etania, Savient, and the South, made the setting come to life on the page, all while allowing me to truly immerse myself in the complex world!
The 20th-Century style setting with planes, castles, electricity, emerging technology, we’re just some of the fascinating elements that also lent itself to this wholly unique setting.
Princess Aurelia and pilot/general’s son Athan are both eager to carve their own paths for themselves! But family feuds going back generations force them to try and uphold their parent’s values that they aren’t entirely sure they understand.
According to her bio & author interviews I’ve read, Hathaway adores history! Throughout Dark Of The West you can see where her inspiration builds and heightens the complex elements to her world.
Dark Of The West was a book I was waiting months for because the summary just hooked me and it sounded like my kind of book–star-crossed love, pilots, politics, etc.! I was bummed when this book was pushed from 2018 to 2019, but now that I’ve finally read this gem of a novel, I was left emotionally devastated and I’m not even sure how I can wait for book 2!
What I love about Dark Of The West so much was the characters–wow these characters! Athan, Aurelia, Cyar, Reni, Violet, even cunning and deceptive characters like the General, Arrin, & Havis–I found myself understanding all of the different layers to them and they truly came to life throughout this entire book!
Athan is eager to follow his own destiny away from the Academy, his ruthless father the General, and all the expectations he’s been born into! At the start of the novel, we see that he is continuously hiding his brilliance in order to trick his father and avoid getting tangled even further into the schemes and brewing war!
You can sense the tension and anxiety that Athan feels because he knows he’ll never be like his cold, older brothers Arrin & Kalt and doesn’t want to take part in his father’s plans to rule over more of their world. The cunning dynamic between Arrin & Athan was probably one of my favorite sibling dynamics throughout this book!
What Hathaway did so brilliantly is portraying these opposing mirrors to Athan and Aurelia as characters! They have a foil or mirror that in our minds–if led on some other path, could have easily become, but through Hathaway’s complex politics and layered sides to Athan + Aurelia, we see that there’s many different sides to the entire cast that we can only uncover through the each distinct POV as the novel develops.
First person lends itself to not only seeing all the characters from a different angle, but also the multi-layered world and politics that build throughout Dark Of The West! The writing is beautiful and poetic! Writing itself, in my opinion, is also an important element to world-building, especially through 1st person & Hathaway’s vivid and elegant writing style not only captured that heart, but also played a huge role in how I viewed the story!
Aurelia finds comfort in journeys through the forest, but also loves to paint! We learn that with the loss of her father, she continues to carry on the beauty of painting with her. I loved how this also contrasted with Athan’s love of sketching!
I loved Aurelia, she was such a brave and brilliant heroine who inspired me, while also reminded me of my own strength that often goes unseen & I adored that so much!
Aurelia and Athan find themselves crossing paths when the General hatches a plan to go to Etania & visit the queen, Aurelia’s mother, with a political meeting in mind alongside revenge against his long-time rival. However, in reality he knows politics are tough for the queen and wants to find a way to seize her throne, all while using his son Athan to keep him close and uncover more through the princess.
What surprised me was how Aurelia never really found out who he was, even when things get intense near the last 1/4 of the book! I’m scared for what’ll happen when she does find out who he really is & what it’ll mean for their dynamic going forward in future Glass Alliance books!
Family and friendship, alongside trust and loyalty were big themes present throughout Dark Of The West which I found were developed so incredibly well! There’s Athan & Cyar’s friendship–their dynamic was so beautiful to read about because there’s not that many books I can recall that have such a strong guy friendship or having it done in such an in-depth way like in this book!
We also can’t forget Violet & Aurelia’s friendship–which is cemented with the support they have for one another.
Family of course is also a very integral part to this story that you sense with every page! From Athan & Aurelia’s expectations, their older siblings, parents, and all the political scheming + underlying intrigue that goes on with them throughout the book hidden to both Athan & Aurelia!
There’s many secrets that are hidden between both families and I loved how Hathaway weaved them into the story and exploring why family and history play such huge roles in the main conflict of this novel! It was brilliantly cemented into the story.
The romance that develops between Aurelia and Athan is so beautiful, subtle, and yet heart-breaking all at the same time!! We know going in that their both on opposite sides of this war, but I couldn’t help but continue to root for them so much! (& constantly remembering about that prologue *both beautiful + haunting* didn’t help either 😅😭💔)
Another underlying element to this book that I found fascinating was how it explored this internal war between the Dakar’s & Isendare’s without there having actually been a war throughout the book-through the scheming & politics sparked by the death of Athan’s mother.
The politics are multi-layered and full expanded on throughout the novel, that builds its way into many different pieces of the story.
I wish I could put into words all the love I have for this book & my beloved crew of Aurelia, Cyar & Athan! They captured my heart from their first introductions ❤ I just–love each of them with all my heart and want them to be protected at all costs in book 2 😭💖
I suppose my only minor critique which did not take away from my complete adoration for this book, is that the pacing is a bit slow at times. This is very much a politically-driven novel with intrigue and court politics, so its very much a story to be experienced that you really absorb through Aurelia & Cyar, which is why it is at 4.5!
However, above all I absolutely loved this book and I cannot wait to see where Hathaway continues The Glass Alliance! Though, I’m not sure I’ll be entirely prepared! 😅🎉🎉
Dark Of The West is haunting, but beautifully crafted novel that will leave you captivated! The fascinating characters, immersive setting, brilliantly explored politics, and layered storytelling make Hathaway’s novel a must read! This debut is a historical-inspired fantasy that has so much depth and heart, leaving you eager for the sequel right away!