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I read The Last Dove from start to finish in a day. It's a good quick read, and a great work by a young author. It'll be interesting to see how the next book differs from this one as she improves.
The foreshadowing in the beginning—which is somewhat heavy handed and obvious—managed to suck me right in. The story idea is a simple, but good one that I found exciting. It plays the Sleeping Beauty Style Rags to Royalty plot 100% straight. I might have set it aside as too cliché, but the shapeshifters (and the worldbuilding in general) are fascinating.
Though the story idea was good, I didn't think it was very well plotted. The plot rambled along in the beginning; the main antagonist wasn't introduced until Chapter 10. Bria encountered very few setbacks thoughout the story, though there were many oppurtunities that conflict could have been created. The story ambled along rather than feeling like it had been planned by the author. I felt like the book could have used a few more drafts, to be frank.
Given that this book is high fantasy, I was surprised to find that pretty much none of the worldbuilding was ripped from Tolkien or Dungeons and Dragons. It's not even close. The book is set in a secluded valley filled with tribes of shapeshifters who were once united under one government. The idea of the political relations between the different types of shapeshifters intrigued me, especially when it came to the fact that they all used their powers to manipulate each other politically. Queen Vasi's power is much more interesting in light of the idea that she used it to manipulate her political opponents.
Bria's character was likeable, though she came off as completely one dimensional. Her one trait was kindness. In some ways, this makes her come off as a Mary Sue. All the minor character she meets love her and instantly help her out. One interesting thing about this, though, is that it's completely plot justified; Bria has a magical power that makes everyone love her and want to serve her interests.
All in all, I liked it enough to buy the next one. Whatever its flaws, it hooked me in enough to keep me reading and make me buy it, which is all that really counts when it comes to selling books.
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