Title: Mardan's Mark
Author: Kathrese McKee
Series: Mardan's Mark #1
Audience: Young Adult
~ MY REVIEW ~
Oh my heart! *happy sigh* I have officially found another fantasy series to love! Mardan's Mark by Kathrese McKee quite exceeded my expectations and held me captivated for the length of an epic journey. ...And, I can't wait to read more! It was amazing, humorous, sweet, and filled with action and adventure.
The story centers around a princess named Srilani, the eldest daughter of King Terson and Lady Kaelan. She is a leader by nature, bold and determined to be heard. But her father continually brushes her opinions and ideas aside; favoring, instead, his son, Jamson, heir to the throne.
Aldan is a slave aboard a pirate ship. He, along with his "brothers", Samazor and Linus, have been slaves for almost as long as they can remember - subject to the whims of Captain Rozar.
But everything they know is about to change as trouble brews between the Twin Kingdoms and Norland. Secrets await realization. Wicked men scheme abductions. And in the midst, a princess and a pirate must learn to work together to keep their families safe.
From almost the very first line, I was enthralled. Mardan's Mark is a very well-written, intriguing, and altogether beautiful fantasy! It didn't leave me bored for a moment; but rather had me excitedly lost in its pages or waiting to return to them! *smiles* Truly, it was fresh and superb. I believe this book is Kathrese McKee's debut novel, and I am quite impressed! Very well done!
The characters were wonderful. I enjoyed being with each POV character ... (which is not always common for me); they were just fantastic! None of them bored me.
Srilani was a little arrogant and spoiled perhaps, for a good bit. I must say, I was a little disgusted, soon after meeting her, when she was disrespectful toward her father and at the same time expected him to treat her and her opinions with utmost respect! Her father may have been in the wrong for treating her so carelessly, but she still should have honored him. So yes. Srilani has a bit of an attitude toward men. But she does learn, and grow through the course of the book; and I quickly came to like her! She has her faults, but she has strengths too ... and learns to admit she's wrong and so on. It was nice to have a so-called "kick-butt" heroine who learns that is not what being a strong woman is all about. Anyway. Can't wait to reunite with Srilani in the next book and see how things go for her!
I liked Aldan very much! He was a calm, strong, guiding force. And his brothers, Sam and Linus, were great too, in different ways! Sam, though annoying at times, made me laugh, and sigh when his tender side showed through. Linus was just mysterious ... and bit shy and quiet, but still deadly. And in another way, sweet. And I simply loved their brotherly relationship! It was so neat, and interesting; and they're all such distinct characters that I very much enjoyed hanging out around the three of them! ^_^
Srilani's sisters, Rene and Maelan, and brother Jamson, were also lovely characters. We perhaps didn't get to know the twins quite as well; but Rene had POV a few times, I believe.
And just ... all the characters were great! I can't wait to read more! Can't wait to go back to this fabulous fantasy world! ^_^
Speaking of the world, it was incredibly done! Completely fascinating. There are pirates working for a bad king. Twin kingdoms growing restless against each other. Fierce alligators roaming the swamp - inspiring an alligator god that some of the people ignorantly believe in. There are guardians and temple priests. Hurricanes. Angels. And a line of people with "Mardan's mark" on their skin.
Some of Mardan's Mark's world and scenarios (especially the Prologue) made me think of the Old Testament times from the Bible. Which is really interesting and neat, I think.
Srilani and her family trust in El (who represents God). They pray to Him, heal in His name, and witness about Him to Aldan and his brothers, who grew up aboard the pirate ship only knowing about Azor, the alligator god. A messenger comes from El to one of the characters (a awesome scene!), and also El gives visions to different people. All in all, I really like the allegory of Mardan's Mark, and hope to see more! ^_^
There was a bit of violence and death here and there. Nothing too bad that I can remember. It's definitely a few notches down from what I've been reading lately! So yeah. Pretty safe.
The romance(s) was sooo sweet! So many cute moments. Tender moments. Eep! <3 It was all so lovely. And it progressed slow enough that it didn't feel like instant love like a lot of the YA books these days. I felt it came about quite nicely! It was all sweet and clean, except, near the end there were two slightly heated romantic moments involving a kiss or two. It's probably considered suitable for the sixteen-and-up range audience. I might suggest eighteen and up ... Well, because Srilani is like seventeen or eighteen, so naturally her situation is probably more suited for readers her age. *smiles* But, I guess it depends what you usually read. Rene is sixteen, I believe (and quite mature), and she has a bit of a romance going on too.
Anyway, so fun! I'm so excited to read more! I want these two adorable couples to have happy endings! *fangirl grin*
So what else to say? Mardan's Mark is awesome! I'm going to start the companion novella tonight, and am dying to read Book 2 already! Haha. Definitely going on my favorites shelf, and I highly recommend! To all fantasy lovers: you must pick up this book! It's thrilling. Mysterious. Adventurous. Sweet. Romantic. Breath-taking. Simply grand. Even if you don't like fantasy, still you should give it a try! It's non-magical, has likenesses to Old Testament days, and just all-around superb writing and characters. As a avid fan of Christian fantasy, I've found a jewel.
I received a copy of Mardan's Mark from the author in exchange for my honest review.
About the Author
Texas author, Kathrese McKee, writes epic adventures for young adults and anyone else who enjoys pirates and princesses combined with life’s difficult questions. She is committed to exciting stories, appropriate content, and quality craftsmanship.
Mardan’s Mark is the award-winning first book in the Mardan’s Mark series.
Once upon a time, Kathrese worked as a systems engineer for EDS and various oil and gas companies. Then, she taught Reading and ESL at the middle school level. These days, she edits fiction, home schools her children, and turns a blind eye to the feral dust bunnies lurking beneath her desk.
Social Media Links
Devotions Blog: ChristsReflections.wordpress.com
Google+: Kathrese McKee
Goodreads: Kathrese McKee
Healer's Curse [MARDAN'S MARK novella] by Kathrese McKee