Review: The Undying King by Grace Draven

Reviewed by Ronelle

Tineroth and her immortal king have long since passed into legends. Few now believe the tales, though they are still told in fearful whispers. But for Imogen, the Undying King is her only hope of breaking a curse that has isolated her from the world since birth. When her foster mother dies after leaving her the map and key to Tineroth, Imogen will seek out the unknown in hopes of having a normal life.

Trapped in time and between worlds, Cededa is languishing in his immortality. Haunted by the revenants of his past and damned to be the guardian-prisoner of Tineroth, he’s given up hope of ever being free or finding the sweet relief of death. He must live with the passing millennia—and their ever-present regrets. But when the daughter of a woman who once helped him comes striding across the bridge to his city, his existence will change forever.

Neither expects the other to be what they are but both are desperate for relief and release. But if outside forces have their way, they won’t be together long enough to find either.

***

I’ll come right out and say that The Undying King was not my favorite Grace Draven novel/novella. I’m not sure where this falls in the timeline of her work, but it was subpar compared to Master of Crows or Gaslight Hades. Perhaps she wrote it early in her career or from a different life-place? Whatever the case may be, it’s not a shining example of her work. The characters were intriguing but not given the page-space to fully form and the plot, while an interesting premise, was weakly executed. My disappointment, I think, really boils down to the simple fact that I was left wanting more: more character development, more plot, more risk, more suspense, and more build-up of events. Even a decent villain or conflict would have been an improvement.

This may simply be an innate failing of the stand-alone novella, but I found the characters in The Undying King to be pretty flat. There were hints and teases at a truly interesting cast and a couple of the revelations surprised me, but I wish things had been more fleshed-out. It was a foregone conclusion that there’d be a Happily Ever After and events were forced into line to make that happen in the allotted word count. The story was just too short to deliver on any of its promises. I mean sure, Imogen fulfilled the role of strong, independent-thinking heroine, but there wasn’t much substance to either her or Cededa. And Dradus? I found him to be nothing more than an annoying distraction that interrupted Cededa and Imogen. He was there because the plot demanded a ‘bad guy’ and though he had the potential to be a good one, he wasn’t. Hayden was merely a mention here-and-there on the page and probably could have been left out entirely without affecting the story.

As for editing…ugh. Someone really dropped the ball. The Undying King was riddled with far more typos than I’ve encountered in Ms. Draven’s other works and they occurred frequently enough to be distracting. Most were either missing words (“and some misdeeds are too write down or speak of”), extra words (“torchlight painted sent shadows cavorting across the walls”), or incorrect words/incorrect tense (“pulled a threat” instead of “pulled a thread” and the gasped trapped in her throat” instead of “gasp trapped”). When coupled with the weak plot and underdeveloped characters, this was the trifecta of sad for me.

On a happier and more satisfied note, I have to admit that Ms. Draven knows what she’s doing when it comes down to the bedroom play. She strikes the right balance between erotically vague and satisfyingly descriptive. And she’s the master of simple, poignant, take-me-to-bed lines. Imogen’s is no exception. As soon as she said “I’m asking you to teach me, Cededa of Tineroth. I’m not asking you to love me,” it was on and the reader knows it. Everything from there is just a happy-sigh moment of sexy perfection. This, perhaps more than anything else, is why I read Ms. Draven’s work (though it usually also comes with great characters, too).

Bottom line: Definitely not my favorite Grace Draven title, but overall an ok read. If you’re looking for a quick, erotic, fantasy fling without any commitment to a series, this is a good choice.

Rating: C+

Click to purchase: Amazon

The Undying King
by Grace Draven
Release Date: May 29, 2016

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