“We gave you courage and fidelity and kindness. They were Ora to give and we gave then freely to you.
But be Forewarned, your greatest strengths can hinder you more than your weaknesses...”
~The Three Gifters, A CLEARING IN THE FOREST
A CLEARING IN THE FOREST is the first stand-alone book in the Journeys from Ayrden series by Kim Love Stump, about a royal family who sends out its heirs on their sixteenth birthday to embark on a quest. Only those that return are eligible to one day inherit the throne. Eldest daughter Adriana is the first to embark on such a journey, and it is foreshadowed that she will encounter many perils ahead of her.
I was surprised and intrigued by the fact that the book was a stand-alone. I knew it was the first in a series, but I thought that Adriana's journey would continue and be longer. Fans of stand-alones--especially in fantasy--will rejoice. This book is also super appropriate for all ages and full of wonder and enchantment. In some ways, it reminded me of a fairy tale: Three paths lie before you. Which do you take, the ordinary or the spectacular? Your choice will prove your character. Etc, etc. Even one of the predicaments Adriana gets into had a fairy tale-esque spin to it.
The imagery of the world was unique and intriguing, from the way food was gathered to the types of worlds Adriana encountered. Nothing was ordinary or expected, and I really enjoyed that, especially with all the musical elements brought into play at one point. I loved visualizing so many new elements and embracing this odd, marvelous little world.
The end did feel a little abrupt for me, and I hope the book overlaps into the second one and continues Adriana's journey a little further, one of those books where it can be read on its own but has something extra for continuing readers, too!