Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Review: Chasing the Valley by Skye Melki-Wegner

Title: Chasing the Valley
Author: Skye Melki-Wegner
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy
Source: Random House Australia. Thank you!
Goodreads | The Reading Room

Escape is impossible. Escape is their only hope.

Danika is used to struggling for survival. But when the tyrannous king launches an attack to punish her city – echoing the alchemy bombs that killed Danika’s family – she risks her life in a daring escape over the city’s walls.

Danika joins a crew of desperate refugees who seek Magnetic Valley, a legendary safe haven. But when she accidentally destroys a palace biplane, suddenly Danika Glynn becomes the most wanted fugitive in Taladia.

Pursued by the king’s vicious hunters and betrayed by false allies, Danika also grapples with her burgeoning magical abilities. And when she meets the mysterious Lukas, she must balance her feelings against her crew’s safety.

Chasing the Valley is the first book in an epic trilogy of magic, treachery and survival.
Review by Nara

Fast paced and action packed, Chasing the Valley was quite a nice, fast read. From the very start, intrigue is built around the world and the characters, and, as the reader, you're constantly wondering what's going to happen next. The book was quite enjoyable overall, however, I do have to say there were a few minor issues with the world building that perhaps very slightly lowered my enjoyment of the novel (to be honest I'm just being overly nitpicky, but I like my world building to be detailed).

The idea of "proclivities" was rather interesting. If you haven't read the book before, if someone has a proclivity in a particular element/thing it just means that their power is to do with that thing (oh, ever so eloquent, Nara haha). Anyway, for example, one proclivity is Beast. This means that you can understand and command animals. The thing I would have liked explained though, are the smaller details about proclivities. Can I specialise in anything? Anything at all? Like, can it be Cloud, or Tree or something? And why is it that it's taboo to show others your proclivity before you're 18? I feel this wasn't really explained properly. Also, there were these charms which were objects imbued with magic- these really weren't explained either. How are they made? Do they ever run out? I just feel that the world building was slightly shaky because these sorts of questions weren't answered. Perhaps they'll be answered in sequels.

In terms of the world building in general, though, I think it was pretty good overall. It wasn't absolutely amazing, but it was definitely enough to be enjoyable! I quite liked the idea of magic being negated by magnets- which is why the main characters are searching for the Magnetic Valley- the safe haven where the King and his hunters cannot reach them. Also, another thing I loved were the foxaries- these were basically massive foxes that people ride around on. FRICK YES GIVE ME ONE NOW.

I feel like people who like reading books just for the romance wouldn't necessarily like this book. I mean, there was a bit of romance thrown in, but it definitely wasn't the focus of the novel. Which was appropriate and definitely was the way I like it. The focus was much more so on adventure and magic and finding the Magnetic Valley, which I feel is reasonable.

I unfortunately did see the "twist" coming from a mile away- come on, it was so obvious! But it was still nice that one aspect of the twist was something I hadn't expected (although that was more so simply because I hadn't thought about that particular aspect- gah trying not to be spoilery). I also laugh at how the blurb says the "mysterious" Lukas, because, seriously, there is hardly anything mysterious about that kid. It was so glaringly obvious who he is...I really liked him as a character though! It was very interesting to see how the relationship between him and Danika is slowly built up.

The ending was cut off at quite a nice point. It wasn't exceptionally cliffhangery, but there was still definitely the promise of more to come (e.g. the King hasn't been dealt with yet.) I will definitely be reading sequels and look forward to seeing how Melki-Wegener will further develop her characters and her world!

Really liked it
Overall: 9/10
Plot: 4/5
Writing: 4/5
Characters: 4/5
Cover: 3/5


  1. Hmmm, I'm not sure if this would be for me or not. I'm intrigued by the concept, but the execution sounds iffy. As I've not heard of this before, I think it may not be published in the US, though I could be wrong. At least I'll have lots of reviews to check by the time it makes its way here.

    1. I think it hasn't been published in the US yet :) It's by an Australian author, and I'm about 99% sure that it's only been published by Random House Aus so far.
      The execution is slightly iffy but not so much that it hinders your enjoyment of the book! It does seem a bit as if it's for younger readers though.

  2. For some reason I really like the name Danika (okay, I'm naming my future daughter that), so if that didn't already pull me in, the synopsis did! I like the sound of this, but like Christina said, the execution doesn't sound too well done. Still, I've always been big on fantasy and this got five stars from you, so I hope to check it out in the future! Great review, Nara. :D

    1. I quite like the name as well! If you have two daughters you can call one Danika and the other Danica haha.
      I love high fantasy too! I just really like seeing how authors do world building. And yeah, like I said just above, the execution isn't bad! Just a couple of unanswered questions here and there :D

  3. This books sounds really interesting, definitely adding this one to my to-read list :)

    I'm glad to know that the romance isn't overpowering/dominating here, yay for more adventure and magic! Haha I think it's a prequisite for YA heros to be 'mysterious' nowadays lol, I mean exactly how can a typical teenaged guy be full of deep secrets and have an utterly tortured past? Heh

    Great review!

  4. Unfortunately I'm not too interested by the book, it sounds like a very typical epic fantasy book with a romance and nothing really stands out to me, but you giving it such a high rating does have my curiosity peaked a little. I'm not a fan of books that leave answers to questions to the sequels :( But thanks for the great review Nara :D

    1. Fair enough :)
      I usually don't mind the leaving of answers to sequels because at times it might seem like an infodump if everything is in the first book. Of course, though, I still like most of the questions to be answered!

  5. Sounds great, I'm looking forward to this book now :)