Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Review: The Dark Realm by Anthea Sharp

The Dark Realm by Anthea Sharp
Series: Feyland #1
Genre: Retelling/Sci-Fi/Fantasy
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What if a high-tech computer game was a gateway to the dangerous Realm of Faerie?

When a game…

Feyland is the most immersive computer game ever designed, and Jennet Carter is the first to play the prototype. But she doesn’t suspect the virtual world is close enough to touch — or that she’ll be battling for her life against the Dark Queen of the faeries.

Turns real…

Tam Linn is the perfect hero — in-game. Too bad the rest of his life is seriously flawed. The last thing he needs is rich-girl Jennet prying into his secrets, insisting he’s the only one who can help her.

Winning is everything…

Together, Jennet and Tam enter the Dark Realm of Feyland, only to discover that the entire human world is in danger. Pushed to the limit of their abilities, they must defeat the Dark Queen… before it’s too late.
Every game had a second chance, a third. You kept fighting the last battle until you finally won. Failure wasn't permanent. Not like in real life.

I've always had a kind of obsessed fascination with virtual reality games. Maybe because I know it's the only way I could ever experience going on quests and defeating the evil. And, after all, who doesn't want that? So, when I first heard about this book, last year, I was interested.

A tale of a young lady, nearly sucked into a game world where wounds become frightfully real? Sign me up. But then, finding out that it's also about the fae, I almost gave it a pass. I've read quite a few books that deal with fae and fairies and the like, and, almost universally, I've been disappointed.

However, this book balances things perfectly. At it's core, it is a tale of two unsuspecting mortals doing battle against the Unseelie Court, but it's dressed up so wonderfully in VR science fiction trappings, that it's fun and unique and so very inventive.

Jennet is a lot of fun. She's a gamer girl through and through. She's independent and don't much care what other people think of her, but she's not off putting. She's just herself and is now saddled with the biggest discovery since…since…yeah, got nothing, because this world that she stumbles upon is huge and could have some dreadful repercussions for humanity.

He hoped, rather desperately, that this wasn't one of those girly games. But if Jennet needed his help, he'd do his best - even if it meant defeating sparkly pink dragons.

Tam (as in Tam Linn) is the epitome of 'boy from the wrong side of the tracks.' But he - thankfully enough - is not a 'bad boy.' He's got a pretty awful family life, but he's mature and grounded. He's also a genuinely good guy - even has more than a little of the hero running through him.

Even though these two people have noting except gaming in common, they form a slow but very strong friendship. Sure, there's romantic leanings, but it's certainly not immediate. Except for maybe Tam falling in insta-love with Jennet's game system. ;)

And special mention has to be made of Marny. Pretty much the only friend that the two have, and she's such a prize. She's level-headed and just as quick with smiles to her friends as she is to defend them. What's even better, is she's described as a rather large girl and goes out of her way to Mod out the perfect 'leggy and busty' avatars from games to make them look more like her.

While the first part of the story is very, very loose in its retelling of The Ballad of Tam Lin, (and, in truth, it was during this part that I was thinking the story deserved five stars) later on in the story it became very 'paint-by-numbers' in it's following of the story. While it was still good, I wish there'd been a few more twists.

"The designers decided you should always see through your character's eyes, hear through their ears - and feel what your character feels."