Author: Casey White
Publisher: May 2018
Rating: 4 out of 5
Blurb: Jas expected to hear a tale of glory and heroism. He hadn’t planned on living it.
Drenwell is in trouble. The idyllic nation teeters on the brink of disaster as one trouble after another lines up before it. Crops fail. Animals flee. Earthquakes rattle the land. In the midst of it all is the mountain, rising tall over the plains and forests. Legends passed down over the years place it as the center of the kingdom’s woes, host to an ancient, looming threat.
Tucked away in the countryside, Jas isn’t worried. Drenwell has a savior waiting, a man chosen by their god to defeat this evil. He knows it better than anyone, since this Chosen is his childhood friend, Darren. Jas knows that Darren will be the one to end the threat and keep them safe.
But their Chosen is clever, armed with his god-given gifts and talents, and he’s no fool. He can see the truth of the mission laid in front of him, its dangers and risks. The expectations placed on him are strong, but the will to live is stronger still.
When faced with his ‘heroic’ fate, he chooses an option no one expected – least of all Jas. With no way left to him but forward, Jas finds himself trapped into playing hero in Darren’s place.
First off, I have to admit something right off the back.
I am a sucker for chosen one stories.
Like, no only are they one of my favorite tropes to write, but they are most certainly one of my favorite tropes to read. I love the classic trope, too. Even if a story follows the chosen one formula to a T, if it’s well written with fresh characters and an epic setting, I’m probably going to fall in love with it, not going to lie, no matter how many times I’ve read it before. But what I love almost even more is when an author knows how to subvert a chosen one trope and twist it in some way I wasn’t expecting.
White did exactly that with her novel, Chosen.
Because of the nature of the plot, I was immediately hooked. And even though I did have a few issues with it (discussed below), I was so hooked by Jas and the way my favorite trope was twisted that there was no way I wasn’t going to read this book all the way to the end. It was just too good. The writing was sound, I really enjoyed following Jas around as our main character (though I’m not sure I’d argue he is our protagonist, after finishing it). I especially loved the questing portion of the novel and getting to know some of our side characters (and even laughed a few times at their conversations).
(Also, slight side note, but when I went to Goodreads to pull the blurb and the cover for this post and saw that the next three books in the saga are already published, I squeed a little bit. I may or may not have also put the sequel in my Amazon cart for when I go on a self-publish-book-buying-spree after Christmas…)
So, don’t get me wrong. I seriously enjoyed this book and I’m (obviously) excited to continue reading this author. But, this was read as part of a contest and, though it was one of my deserving semi-finalists, with this review, I am cutting it from the running of being a finalist. As such, I want to spend the rest of my review explaining that decision (and hopefully giving some helpful feedback to the author in the process)!
Similar to my first semi-finalist cut, there was one main issue that I couldn’t get past that ultimately influenced my decision to cut this book. I also don’t think this is truly a spoiler, since it’s hinted at in book’s blurb, but in case you want to be totally surprised (and I do hope you all go and read this book), minor spoilers abound after this point. Read at your own peril.
At the beginning, Jas–the Chosen One’s best friend–is placed under a binding by Darren, the Chosen One, after it’s revealed to Darren that he must travel to the mountain to stop the evil that lives within. Basically, they “trade” bodies, Jas looking like Darren and Darren like Jas, so that the Chosen One doesn’t have to go and fulfill his quest, sending his best friend in his stead.
(I told you that twist was cool.)
Yet, the thing that bothered me was we never truly got an explanation of how the binding worked. It made Jas look and sound like Darren. Fair, believable. It kept Jas from saying his real name aloud, never letting him out himself not being the Chosen One. Yeah, I can buy that.
It took over whenever Jas did something that didn’t fit the Chosen One’s MO or didn’t push them to achieve the Chosen One’s goal fast enough and forced him to do what it wanted, going as far as locking him inside his own mind and watching like an outsider as the Chosen One acted, spoke and responded on it’s own accord, before treating back within him and letting Jas (usually) clean up the mess. And this is maintained throughout the entire quest, even though Darren is safe leagues away, without physical contact, without mental stimulation, without renewing the binding or scrying to see what happens.
That…was a little harder for me to buy into, especially after we never got an explanation of how this binding worked or how he was able to do that in the first place. It bothered me throughout the entire novel, honestly, because I needed to know, within the realm of this world and the restrictions of the magic, how that was possible. And I wanted something more than “he’s the Chosen One, so he’s powerful” (never said, but potentially implied?). Obviously not so much that I didn’t end up enjoying the hell out of this book (because hello, yes I did) but it was just enough, for the contest purposes, for me to fall in love with another book a little bit more, which is why Chosen by Casey White is the second of my semi-finalists to fall. I’m so glad it was in my group, however, because I’m not sure if I would have found it otherwise and I’m really excited to continue reading the series to see both what happens next and watch the author grow as a writer the more book she writes. She should be on your radar, friends. I’m really glad she’s now on mine.