From Goodreads: The young half-faerie Melia is hounded by her father’s dark ambitions. She is determined to put an end to his dangerous plans, but she doesn’t have all the facts. By the time she does, it might just be too late.
The Writer's View
First, I have to say that this is a totally biased review -- I loved Nandana's Mark long before it was ever published. I came across the novel in an online critique group. I immediately connected with Melia, the main character, and signed up to crit as many chapters as I could. Melia is half-mortal, half-human, and struggles to fit into the Realm of Faerie because of her mixed race. Her experience of being mixed is so authentic. I myself am biracial (half Chinese, half Caucasian) and a lot of what Melia experiences throughout the novel really spoke to me. Her growth at the end -- her acceptance of being mixed and her discovery of an inner strength from that mixed heritage -- echo my own experiences of self-discovery as an adult. This is a great read for anyone, but most definitely for teens of mixed heritage who are looking for a heroine they can relate to. I highly recommend it.
Letting readers fill in the blanks
Another thing I love about this novel is that it's an epic fantasy without the epic page count. I have devoured dozens of epic fantasy books -- they were my drug of choice as a young reader -- and one of my biggest gripes is the fluff. IMO, epic fantasy often has 200 - 300 pages of total fluff. Stuff that could just be cut out with a razor blade and thrown in the trash, because it serves no significant purpose in the novel and is largely boring. It is this reason that I generally don't read epic fantasy anymore. I don't have time for 300 pages of fluff. I am way too busy. Boil down your novel to the essential parts and serve it to me on a platter, please.
Nandana's Mark has zero fluff. Every scene is there for a reason. You don't have to suffer through 10 different POVs of the same incident. Scenes are delivered, characters are revealed, and the plot is advanced at a very fast pace. Before you know it, the novel is done and you're eagerly awaiting the next installment.
The thing I noticed (and appreciated) is how author Heidi Garrett lets her readers' imagination fill in events that don't need to be described. (A similar technique was employed by Courtney Summers in This is Not A Test, another book I adored. It's also a technique I see quite often in short stories, but not all that much in novels.)
Example: Melia's sister is kidnapped. Melia experiences a quick flash of kidnapping through the telepathic link she shares with her sister. We don't *see* the actual kidnapping from any of the characters who were actually at the kidnapping. But you know what? We don't need to. We get it. We don't need 5 characters to recap and experience the event. We can move onto the next scene. Hence, the epic fantasy without the epic page count.
I hope you guys will check out this book. It's a bargain at only $2.99. It's a fun read with great pacing and a relatable heroine!
Stay tuned for a guest post on "Book Bloat" by author Heidi Garrett!