Saturday 4 September 2021

Book Review: Awakened by Ciara Duggan (YA Fantasy)

Title: Awakened
Author: Ciara Duggan
Publisher: Parliament House
Publication Date: 7 September 2021
Pages: 196
Format: eBook - EPUB
Genre: YA Fantasy
Source: ARC via NetGalley

After losing her parents in an accident only she survived, Hannah is desperate for answers. Haunted by the events of that tragic night, she struggles to move on, yearning for some deeper truth about her loss.

But when it comes time to turn a new page and move cross country for college, she vows to leave the past behind. After all, Bellcliff University is a thousand miles away from the ghosts nipping at her heels.

Yet when Hannah accidentally awakens a handsome witch from a hidden cave near campus, she realizes he isn’t the only thing stirring out of slumber. Hannah has roused all magic…including the devil herself.

As if spells, curses, and college jitters weren’t enough, this witch claims to know Hannah from four centuries prior—and their connection is more than casual.

Thrust into a world of sorcery and monsters, Hannah must fight to keep the magic she’d unleashed from claiming a price far too steep for her to pay.


Awakened was a mixed bag for me. I liked the premise, and I enjoyed the way the author wove various paranormal creatures into the idea of turning to dark magic. That was a fresh and interesting idea. Hannah also had the potential to be an interesting protagonist, with her traumatic past as a springboard into the story. However, this book fell down on two main (and connected) points for me. The first was the pacing, which seemed too fast. I would have liked to have spent a little more time seeing Hannah discover magic and get to know Callan, giving us, as readers, more world building for the magical elements too. In addition, her relationship with Callan developed unbelievably fast. Yes, there is a plot point that tries to account for this, but that was not a compelling-enough reason for me to accept they would move from strangers to deep love and commitment so swiftly. Secondary characters, too, were a little underdeveloped since we spent hardly any time with them. Had the piece been longer, the pacing a little slower, there would have been more opportunities to develop the characters, relationships, plot and world building. This book references The Vampire Diaries in the blurb, and in some ways I think that is apt. I adored The Vampire Diaries when I was about twelve, but when I reread the series as an adult I was shocked at how bad I found the books in contrast to my great memories of them. Similarly, I believe younger teens will love Awakened with its magic, paranormal creatures and romance. It is just not one of those YA reads that is going to work as well for adults who are looking for something with more depth. That said, it was a quick and easy read that was entertaining enough in terms of premise, so if you are a huge YA fantasy fan, you might want to check it out. It gets 3 stars from me.

I received this book as a free eBook ARC via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. 

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