I received Captured by Maggie L. Wood as a submission for the YABA.

“Fifteen-year-old Willow Kingswell has been listening to her Nana’s tales of faeries and enchanted kingdoms for as long as she can remember. But when she is magically transported to the realm of Mistolear, she is stunned to learn that the stories were true, and that she is actually a princess. Suddenly, Willow has to fit into a royal family she didn’t know she had, deal with customs she doesn’t understand and sort out her feelings for Brand, the handsome knight who has sworn to protect her.

On top of everything, she may also be the key to saving Mistolear from a terrifying spell. The nefarious faerie prince Nezeral has pitted two kingdoms against each other in a life-or-death chess match, in which people are the game pieces. As a pawn, Willow now glows with the light of the game and must find the courage and cleverness to battle Nezeral before her loved ones fall. Could a meager pawn really be the most powerful piece on the board? Captured is the first book in the thrilling Divided Realms series.”

I initially found the concept of people being linked to chess pieces in a large scale game of wizard chess to be silly and strange. However, I was pleasantly surprised by the novel and think it was well executed. This style of fantasy that combines our world with a fantastic one is very effective for teens. It allows them to deal with issues like war and family drama at a safe distance. At at the same time they feel close to the action because of the character from our world who sees things as they would and uses contemporary slang amongst the backdrop of knightly banter. I usually prefer this type of story to be in 1st person narrative but Wood did a good job of making it work without this.

I thought the ending was original, creative and appropriate. It defined the book for me and I think I would have preferred for this to be a stand-alone novel rather than a trilogy because it’s rare I’m so pleased with an ending. The novel flowed nicely so I finished it quickly but it had some memorable parts, separating it from other quick reads.


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