Riven – My Review!!
Riven (My Myth #1) by Jane Alvey Harris showed up in my Goodreads recommendations. Intrigued by both the cover and the blurb, I added it to my TBR list. Read on for my thoughts!
Synopsis (from the author):
Which reality would you choose? Seventeen year-old Emily’s dad is in prison for securities fraud and her mom’s strung-out on pain meds, leaving Emily to parent herself and her younger brothers and sister. She’s got things mostly under control until a couple weeks before Dad’s release, when voices start whispering in her head, and Gabe, the hot lifeguard at the pool, notices the strange brands engraved on her arm…the ones she’s trying desperately to hide. Emily doesn’t know how the symbols got there or what they mean. They appeared overnight and now they’re infected and bleeding. She’s pretty sure she’s losing her mind. Stress, insomnia, and her wounded egos drive Emily to self-medicate, which has to be why the nightmares from her childhood have resurfaced, why they’re commandeering her conscious even when she’s awake. It has to be why the fairytale creatures she created as a little girl insist they need her help. Triggered by the return of her childhood abuser and unable to cope with reality, Emily slips completely inside her elaborate fantasy world. She’s powerful in the First Realm, maybe even more powerful than her attacker. It would be so easy to stay there, to lose herself in enchantment…to lose herself in love. But something sinister lurks in the forest shadows. Emily soon discovers her demons have followed her inside her fairytale. They’re hunting her. With the help of the Fae, she frantically searches for the weapons she needs to defeat her greatest fears and escape back to reality before the man who tortured her can prey on her younger brothers and sister, too. Time is running out…
*Non-Explicit Trigger Warning: This book deals with the issues of child molestation and child abuse.
What I liked:
Riven had many of the elements of classic fantasy. From the Fae, the First Realm, and the dragonflies in the real world, to the runes cut into her arm, the intrigue and magic made the story seem real. Emily’s substance abuse and her mother’s illness provided the perfect reasons to slip between worlds. The abuse noted at the end of the synopsis, though horrible and uncomfortable, wasn’t explicit and didn’t overtly dominate the story. Emily’s escape mechanism from the trauma did dominate the story and, by using fantasy elements to depict her protection, Jane Alvey Harris did an exceptional job handling the topic.
What I didn’t like:
At times, the story was difficult to follow, especially when Emily interacted with her siblings. Whether she imagined everything or if her siblings also saw what she saw was unclear at times. Gabe’s insistence to be included in Emily’s life (despite the fact it was explained late in the book) was a bit odd for me.
Excellent characters, a good story, and memorable fantasy elements made Riven (My Myth #1) a book to read. Certainly not for early YA, this one suits older teens. The book handles a difficult subject well, but with the fantasy elements dominating the story, it is a good read. I recommend it to all older fantasy fans!