Shielded by KayLynn Flanders
Genre: Young adult, fantasy
Publishing Info: July 2020 by Delacorte Press (Fairyloot edition)
Star Rating: 3/5
Back Cover Summary:
The kingdom of Hálendi is in trouble. It’s losing the war at its borders, and rumors of a new, deadlier threat on the horizon have surfaced. Princess Jennesara knows her skills on the battlefield would make her an asset and wants to help, but her father has other plans.
As the second-born heir to the throne, Jenna lacks the firstborn’s–her brother’s–magical abilities, so the king promises her hand in marriage to the prince of neighboring Turia in exchange for resources Hálendi needs. Jenna must leave behind everything she has ever known if she is to give her people a chance at peace.
Only, on the journey to reach her betrothed and new home, the royal caravan is ambushed, and Jenna realizes the rumors were wrong–the new threat is worse than anyone imagined. Now Jenna must decide if revealing a dangerous secret is worth the cost before it’s too late–for her and for her entire kingdom.
Shielded wasn’t on my radar but it came in the Fairyloot July box so I decided to give it a go. My initial impressions weren’t so good, but this one grew on me as I read. The opening chapters felt very introductory and it took too long for the story to get going.
The section in the Wild dragged on and at times it read like a list of Jenna’s actions, just her doing one thing and then another and another. Since she spent so long in the Wild, I was expecting something that happened in that part to become significant later, but there wasn’t a meaningful connection to anything else, so this part of the book needn’t have taken so long. Besides being referred to as a dangerous place in between the two kingdoms, the Wild isn’t referred to much in the rest of the book.
I didn’t enjoy the writing style. It could be a bit clunky, and I times I even felt confused. There were bits of dialogue or description which I had to read a few times to understand what the author meant, and sometimes I still didn’t understand. Between some of the chapters there were short one or two page snippets showing what the villains of the story were up to. They were written in a very vague way, perhaps to provoke intrigue in the reader, but I just felt confused. Speaking of the villains, they were quite one-dimensional and I didn’t really get much grasp of their motivations.
Initially, I also didn’t connect with the characters. Jenna’s thoughts felt quite repetitive. There were some things in the story to be intrigued about, but I just didn’t click with it.
However, things picked up in the second half once Jenna reached Turia. I loved Enzo’s family and seeing how they interact with each other, as well as how their friendship with Jenna grew. Once I got to know the family, I started to connect with the characters more. The pacing was better in the second half and I really got sucked in.
This is definitely a novel of two halves for me. The first half really failed to grab my attention. I didn’t enjoy reading it because I just didn’t feel engaged by the plot, characters or writing. But in the second half I found myself much more absorbed and found characters who I could care about. There was political intrigue, mystery and action.
Overall, this is quite a typical YA fantasy novel. There are heroes up against villains, kingdoms at war, evil mages, and an arranged marriage. If this kind of thing is your jam, you may well love this book. For me, the writing and pacing prevented me from enjoying it as much as I could have.