All she wants to do is finish college and work in her field, it’s a pity somebody has other plans for her.
Title: Twisted Fate
Author: Jessi Elliott
Genre: Urban Fantasy, Paranormal, Romance
Date published: 13 February 2018
Publisher: Jessi Elliott
Review Rating: 4/5
Author/Publishers Recommended Reading Age:
Synopsis: “Being kidnapped by the leader of the fae really puts a dent in your senior year.
Aurora Marshall is sharp, witty, and always has a plan. Currently, it’s to finish her business degree and graduate. And she’s right on track—until fate brings her to Tristan Westbrook.
The overbearing yet undeniably gorgeous fae leader—who’s also admired by humankind—is all kinds of dangerous. He finds Aurora intriguing, and her refusal to bend to his will only captivates him further.
Entering into a deal with Tristan is the only way for Aurora to escape his clutches—or so she thinks. Only, it plunges her deeper and deeper into the fae world. With her future at stake, she finds herself battling his arrogance and extraordinary presence while reflecting on her own mundane life.
Not to mention her struggle to ignore the growing attraction she knows she shouldn’t feel for the man who kidnapped her.
Even though people often claim college to be an exciting part of life, Aurora is certain that none of them—herself included—ever dreamed this as a possibility. “
First and foremost- If you are reading this review be aware that it contains spoilers, not huge amounts but enough. Read at your own risk.
Twisted Fate is the debut novel both in the Twisted series and for indie author, Jessi Elliott. It wasn’t a long read, roughly about three hours with interruptions, but it was enjoyable. Its’s your typical good v’s bad, uncovering lost family secrets, hate to love type plot but it’s hard to escape these tropes in this day and age. The important thing is that even though the tropes aren’t new, Elliott made them work for her writing and kept me, the reader, engaged.
So what exactly did I like about Twisted Fate? Well for starters the MC is a sassy, smart-mouthed, independent uni student. She’s in her final year of university, trying to focus on finishing her degree and finding work in her field after graduation, just like we all dream of at the end of our studies. She’s somebody you can relate to and that’s incredibly important. Next, there is a multitude of antagonists, though the Big Bad wasn’t quite who I thought it would be. It’s interesting that there are several people in the book who could be labelled the Antagonist even as they slowly cross over into the Protagonist column. These characters keep the novel from becoming just another stale love story and I enjoyed the interaction between them. I also appreciated that the novel was an easy read. After a long day at work I didn’t want to sit, trying desperately to wrap my head around characters with multiple hidden agendas and plots that were nestled deeply within other plots. The book writing was simple enough that I didn’t hurt my brain trying to make all the connections but engaging enough to keep me entertained until the end.
That being said there were a few things I wasn’t a big fan of in the Twisted Fate. The first was that the timeline jumped forward a lot. I completely understand that in order to move a book forward time needs to move on as well, I even get that in order to do this you may need to skip a few days/weeks/months, but unfortunately, Elliott skipped days/weeks a fair bit. One such skip occurred just after a key character is attacked. You read that they’ve been ambushed and aren’t in a good way, an MC races out the door to help and then suddenly it’s been a few weeks and the character who was apparently dying is well and dressed for a gala. I don’t know about you but if a key player is ambushed I want to know the details. What were the injuries? How did somebody manage to get the jump on them when they’re responsible for the combat training of so many others? How did somebody find them in time and how does this assault impact the MC’s decisions? It was a little frustrating but not enough to make me stop reading the book.
I do have to hand it to Elliott though, Twisted Fate is written in 1st person and I don’t know about you but I find it a much more complicated perspective to write in than 3rd person. It relies on the author being able to write their characters with so much more expression in their body language for the MC, and therefore the reader, to interpret. There is no, “he felt this while she said that”, only ” I could see that he didn’t appear happy while I said my piece.”. You were right there in the driver’s seat while our MC, whose name is actually Aurora, goes from being a university student trying to successfully finish her final year to being tangled up in the fae world while juggling her own studies, family issues, internal dilemmas, and just trying to make it through each day intact. First-person was perfect for this and I’m glad that that’s what Elliott choose to deliver her novel in.
Thematically you could have an absolute field day with this book because it has a little bit of everything. There is the very obvious Light v’s Dark, Hate to Love, and The Burdens of Leadership, but there is also a multitude of others that aren’t so visible such as Death. Don’t get me wrong, death is actually quite prevalent throughout the novel but it’s the types of death that change. There is the usual death that comes from being at war but there is also the death of innocence in more ways than one, the death of friendship, the death of loyalty, and the death hope. Having said that, the usual byproduct of death is birth and for every death that occurs in Twisted Fate, no matter the format, there is the birth of something else. It’s very much a continual presentation of Newton’s third law, “for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction”. Read the book closely and you’ll see what I mean.
On top of death, the themes of love and loyalty are given a good work out. Loyalties are questioned the whole way through the novel, even when the characters love each other. Of course, as in the real world, just because a character loves another doesn’t mean that they’re loyal to them. One great example is a secondary character who loves his conservative family but has to hide from them the fact that he is gay. To do this he dates a girl who, while she no longer loves him in a romantic way, continues the charade in a show of loyalty toward her friend. It, of course, helps that she too is hiding romantic secrets of her own and this farce helps to keep them hidden. With that in mind, you could ask if the loyalty to her friend is as great as the loyalty to herself.
Another important theme in the novel is Respect and I love that Elliott illustrated the different versions of this there are in today’s society. Characters exhibited respect, or a lack of it, for each other, different races, positions of power, and sexuality. Her MC’s, whilst not chaste, were great examples in showing how to honour each other’s rights and bodies irrespective of their own desires, something that has had to be increasingly illustrated in today’s society. Other characters had to dismantle what they thought they knew of other races and re-access their stance on them, and people who thought they deserved respect due to their position or superiority were educated on the need to earn it, rather than simply expecting it. It was really lovely to see all this written in and watch as personalities evolved throughout the course of the novel.
Character-wise I’ve already said that our MC, Aurora, is smart, sassy and independent. However, all Elliott’s female characters were strong, intelligent women who preferred to rescue themselves if possible. They all exhibited a strength of some form, whether it be physical or emotional and they were all well aware of the power they possessed. Most of the female characters in Twisted Fate also held positions of power within their careers, positions which typically are imagined to be held by men. It was refreshing to see Elliott’s writing challenge this, something I have come to see as a regular occurrence in Fiction books. Having said that Elliott made sure that even her strongest female character was flawed. Whether they held prejudice against a peoples, suffered anxiety, fell for the wrong guy, or just made the wrong call, these women were people that were likable and relatable.
The male characters also went against what I regularly see as the norm in the fiction world. They presented a predominately tough and strong personality to those around them, while privately they were incredibly vulnerable. They suffered in silence through bearing the burdens of leadership, acceptance of their sexual preferences, the flow-on effect of past deeds, and the expectations cast on them by their look or role in society. These men actually needed guidance, support, and dare I say it, saving, and it was wonderful to read. Not only that but they even asked for help and listened to the opinions of their female counterparts. It was fantastic that Elliott set about challenging the toxic stereotype that men have to be tough and shouldn’t show weakness. So much so that I was in awe and very aware that my reaction shouldn’t have been that.
The other thing I absolutely adored about her writing is that when it came to the sex scene there were no C words. I don’t know about you but it irks me massively when the novel I’ve been reading has been written using lovely language and then once you get to a love scene the language becomes gutter like. If I want to read gutter language I’ll find a book that I know will read that way the whole way through, not descend to that level for a scene or two. I get that some scenes call for stronger language but I’m not sure that I will ever agree that they require the use of C*ck or C*nt, but hey, that’s just me. Anyway, I like and appreciate that Elliott found a way to write this scene just as nicely as she did all the non-sexual scenes in her novel.
Unfortunately, apart from saying what I loved about the novel I also have to be honest regarding the plot which, to me, wasn’t anything spectacular. Good fey v’s bad fey with a side of hidden family secrets, forbidden love and an impending supe war. These are themes are the bases for a good number of supernatural or fantasy fiction, HOWEVER, despite this, the novel was still enjoyable. The writing flowed well and the descriptions were just right in the way that they built you a picture without being over-the-top. When Elliott described a party, dorm room, city, or hotel I was able to easily imagine myself in these places.
So with all that in mind I have to say I rather enjoyed this book. Heck! I might even grab myself the second in the series, which is not something I do often unless I really, really, loved the first one. I recommend that you give it a whirl and support an indie author. Who knows, maybe you’ll like it as much as I did, or maybe you won’t, but you won’t know unless you give it a read.