The Missing Heir of Mandralay
by Braden Bell4 out of 5
A heartless monster. An innocent girl. He holds her life in his paws, but she holds his soul in her hands.
Thirteen-year-old Tallie has a strange new power. While experimenting with this power late at night, she is discovered by Mother Kyraisa, the ancient nun who runs the orphanage where Tallie lives. Terrified of something, Mother Kyraisa evacuates the orphanage and burns it to the ground. The pair flees into the desert with only a wagon and a lead-lined coffin to protect the girl from the unspoken danger that pursues her.
With no memories, no heart, or even a name, X is a monster. Fiercest of the Bestials, his predator’s instincts are controlled only by powerful spells binding his life to the regent’s will. When a flash of apostate magic betrays the hiding place of the late queen’s daughter, the regent dispatches X to kill the child—her niece and the long-hidden heir to the throne.
Following the child’s magic, X tracks Tallie to her hiding place. He prepares to kill her, until Tallie surprises him with a sincere request for help.
Tallie’s innocence and trust awaken a small spark of humanity inside X, and he tries to help her. But he remains a monster, bound by instinct and unbreakable oaths. Helping Tallie triggers a ferocious battle, as X fights his primal nature for her life—and his only hope of redemption.
Meanwhile, Tallie grapples with the tragedy of her past and her identity as crown princess. As royal heir, Tallie finds access to immense power—enough to destroy her enemies, but possibly her own soul as well, turning her into a monster far worse than X.
After murdering her sister to usurp her throne, the new queen regent will stop at nothing to see her niece dead. After thirteen years, she might finally have her chance, and sends her most ruthless killer.
I received a free copy in exchange for an honest review.
I really enjoyed this story, it focuses more on X, the queen regent's ruthless killer.
Like all other Bestials (which are an awesome creation!), X has been tortured and brainwashed, until all he knows is following orders and killing. He's one of the oldest and fiercest, and is proud to be the Captain of the Bestials and the queen regent's right-hand man.
He doesn't hesitate when he is ordered to kill an entire village, or a child, or the rightful heir to the throne. He simply sets off, driven by a fierce instinct and hunger to kill and obey his queen.
It is only when he crosses paths with Tallie that some repressed, forgotten bit of humanity emerges, and for the first time in years he is able to make a choice.
Mother Kyraisa is an old nun who runs an orphanage. She is also a lot more than she appears. She's quick-witted, brave, and ready to fight any enemy with a skill that surpasses most.
She is wholly committed to protecting Tallie, even if it means being harsh, and keeping her in the dark (both literally and figuratively).
Tallie is the reason that everything is in motion. She has recently discovered she has magical powers, and her use of a rather powerful magic has sparked the hunt for her again.
She's very sweet, and very innocent, and at no time did I believe that she was thirteen years old. Eight years old, I would believe in a heartbeat. But the picture on the cover, and the constant reference of her being "The Child" by everybody else; and her own very immature behaviour... I struggled to see her as anything older.
Overall, the story is nicely set up for the next episode and I will be continuing with this series.