Review: White Hart (White Hart #1) by Sarah Dalton

Mae never asked to be craft-born. She never wanted that burden.

The realm needs magic again, and the the King of Aegunlund has been waiting for the first craft-born girl to marry his son, Prince Casimir.

In Mae's town of Halts-Walden, the ambitious miller claims his daughter Ellen is craft-born. Mae knows this is a load of hogwash, but she's glad Ellen will have the unfortunate pleasure of becoming queen instead of her. All she has to do is sit back and wait until Casimir and Ellen are married, then she will finally be free of the threat of her fate. But on that day an event so shocking and terrible occurs that Mae finds herself entering the neighbouring cursed forest on a quest she never thought she'd have to follow.

Join Mae as she rides her white stag through the Waerg Woods with a pampered prince at her heels. She's out for revenge and nothing, no one, will get in her way.

*I received a copy through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review*

Mae is craft-born, this means she has magic in her. She has been keeping this a secret for her whole life. Though I do find it interesting that no one else made the connection, when a white stag appeared at her home the day she was born. Everyone just thinks she is weird and beneath them. Now magic has been gone a long time in the kingdom, so they need that craft-born to reawaken the magic, so nature and the kingdom can thrive again.

This means that the King has ordered that the Prince would marry the craft-born and make sure the magic stays in the royal bloodline. Since Mae isn't on board with marrying some stuck up prince, she has kept quiet. When Ellen, the prettiest girl in town, has claimed that she is the craft-born, Mae has become even more relieved. She knows that it is total fake, no way that there are two craft-borns. But it will keep the attention away from her.

When Prince Casimir comes to town to claim his bride, things start to go bad really fast. As in people are dead and Ellen is kidnapped into Waerg Woods. Mae is now out for revenge and Casimir wants his bride back, so off they go into the woods. Waerg Woods is terrifying, the things they encounter in there is pure nightmare material. Mae has trouble keeping her secret from Casimir when there are a couple of times she needs to use magic to save them. When you go through life and death moments together, people tend to bond over that.

The connection between Mae and Casimir grows during their journey. While Mae starts to have feelings for him and thinking that life at the palace might not be so bad, Casimir sees her pretty much as a little sister. That guy is infatuated with Ellen and nothing or rather no one can sway him from that. So Mae keeps to herself. It is kind of heartbreaking really. Often Casimir comes of as a bit of an idiot to me with how hard he holds onto Ellen. He only talked to her a couple of times and is claiming that even if she wasn't craft-born, he would still marry her. It really seems more infatuation than real love.

Meanwhile sweet Mae is starting to think there might be more to life than revenge, but when Casimir makes his feelings clear, her focus goes back to revenge. I understand why she is holding on to that, feeling that otherwise her world would crumble down, but it will come back to her. You must not forget that she is only fifteen, so you can not always expect her to make the most rational decisions.

Overall the plot was fast-paced, the Waerg Woods is freaky scary, the romance was a bit lacking and the ending was very rushed. It has an unique setting and plenty of twists to keep it interesting though. The book ended with a cliffhanger, but I am not sure if I will be reading the second book. That ending felt too forced to me.

The Author
Sarah grew up in the middle of nowhere in the countryside of Derbyshire and as a result has an over-active imagination. She has been an avid reader for most of her life, taking inspiration from the stories she read as a child, and the novels she devoured as an adult.

Sarah mainly writes speculative fiction for a Young Adult audience and has had pieces of short fiction published in the Medulla Literary Review, PANK magazine, Apex Magazine and the British Fantasy Society publication Dark Horizons. Her short story ‘Vampires Wear Chanel’ is featured in the Wyvern Publication Fangtales.

She is the author of the popular YA dystopia series 'Blemished' and the gothic novella 'My Daylight Monsters'. She is currently working on a YA Fantasy series titled 'White Hart'.

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