Fantasia Reviews Dawn of Wonder

Dawn of Wonder by Johnathan Renshaw
Published 5/1/2015
Ages 12+

51ffxlj4tvl“When a high-ranking officer gallops into the quiet Mistyvales, he brings a warning that shakes the countryfolk to their roots. But for Aedan, a scruffy young adventurer with veins full of fire and a head full of ideas, this officer is not what he seems.
The events that follow propel Aedan on a journey that only the foolhardy or desperate would risk, leading him to the gates of the nation’s royal academy – a whole world of secrets in itself.
But this is only the beginning of his discoveries. Something is stirring in the land, something more ominous than the rising threat of hostile nations. Fearful travellers whisper of an ancient power breathing over Thirna, changing it, waking it. In the very heart of these stirrings, Aedan encounters that which defies belief, leaving him speechless with terror – and wonder.”

Story –fullstarfullstarfullstarfullstar Good

Mister Renshaw paints us an intriguing picture in a wondrous land that does not distract from the story, the very long story. While Dawn of Wonder possesses a captivating plot, it could have achieved much more with much less, with large chunks feeling superfluous to the rest of the book, and parts could have been who novellas on their own. Needless to say, the pacing is off, alternating between breakneck speed and a snail’s pace, which is unfortunate, because large sections are simply a bore to read. That all being said, it is fun, a little contrived at times, a little overly detailed, but fun. Perhaps our greatest grievance is the couple of occasions where the narrator is less than reliable, seemingly to make his contrivances more impressive, but it feels a bit out of place and falls flat, and we were less impressed and more annoyed.

“The howl of terror that split the morning and echoed down the chasm would live on in Aedan’s dreams for years to come, always bringing a sigh and a smile. The falling boy actually ran out of breath before he hit the icy river, allowing a theatrical pause before the sharp smack of belly and limbs. It was the loudest landing they had ever heard.”

Writing and Formatting –fullstarfullstarfullstarfullstar Good

Dawn of Wonder is well edited and written, with only minor errors in punctuation and grammar that do not distract much from the story. That being said, a crueler editor could have culled many of the extra pages, and we would have been none the wiser.

“One evening, Aedan crept out of bed, opened a secret cubby in his desk and withdrew a tattered page. He clutched it and made his way to the kitchens where coals would still be glowing in the oven.”

Literary Value –fullstarfullstarfullstar Worth Mentioning

Dawn of Wonder succeeds as a novel in the somewhat difficult subjects it addresses, though it may not quite delve deep enough at times. It provides us with a chance to reflect on the things that make us human without presenting it in a manner that could be considered dark. We do not want to spoil too much, but Mister Renshaw has added to the story by exploring the identity formation of a young and damaged man, though perhaps he does not resolve these issues in a compelling way. In short, better than some, but could be better.

“As Aedan had predicted, the wolves were thrown into confusion by the scent, or rather, the stink of the part. After twice approaching they abandoned this smelly quarry that they could not bring themselves to attack.”

Overall –fullstarfullstarfullstarfullstar 4, A Good Read

As much as we appear to be displeased by Dawn of Wonder, we aren’t. It is a fun and engaging coming of age story with some well-written characters set in a vast fantasy world. We recommend it to any young reader who is interested in fantasy, or just those who are young at heart.

Dawn of Wonder is available on Amazon.