Book Review - Hawk

I received Hawk by Marie Powell from LibraryThing as part of the Early Reviewers program.



Here's the summary from Amazon:
Hyw yearns to join his father in serving the charismatic Llywelyn, Prince of Wales. If only Hyw dared tell anyone of his ability to scout through the eyes of a hawk, it might help secure his place in the royal guard. Cat, his sister, longs to inherit the magical ability that runs through her mother's line. If only she could see her future, now that she is 13 and promised to a boy she barely remembers.

When a messenger summons the prince to a secret meeting, Cat and Hwy find themselves in the middle of a war that threatens to destroy all of Wales. Can they master their special abilities in time to save the royal family-and themselves?

Set among the actual events and personages of late 13th century Wales, Hawk is a fantasy novel that recreates what life might have been like for two teenagers coming of age.

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I had worried that this book was going to be one where it was difficult to keep track of the characters considering that it started with a cast list complete with pronunciation. I skimmed this, but I knew it wouldn't be much help to me since I have a hard time flipping back to indexes and glossaries with ebooks on my Kindle. (I love ebooks for convenience, but sometimes physical copies make things easier, but I digress.) Luckily I had nothing to worry about. Powell did a great job giving the characters personalities and identities, so I didn't need to flip back to figure out who was who and who was related to who. The names, though Welsh, were fortunately also not a problem in the slightest. I'm always happy when fantasy is easy to follow! 

Back to the characters, the author did a wonderful job bringing them to life. The chapters alternated between a pair of siblings and I enjoyed this style, probably because I liked both of the characters and was invested in what was happening to both of them. I tend to like multiple viewpoint stories, anyway, but this was well done. The secondary characters were pretty well-rounded, too, which is likely why I had no trouble keeping track of who was who. 

I don't read a lot of historical fiction/fantasy (usually just plain fantasy) and I wasn't disappointed in this approach to magic. It blended well with the historical aspects of the story. I don't want to get into spoilers, but I particularly liked how Hyw (one of the main characters) learned how to work both his animal-related magic and the magic that helped his prince. 

The story had a nice pace and with short chapters, it sped along and kept me interested. The only minor issue I can bring up is that the end of the story felt a little rushed. I guess I wanted to know more about what happened with the characters and their magic! The story ending where it did was understandable, though, considering that Powell was working with a specific time/event in history. If there's a sequel, you can bet I'll be reading it. I'll give this four and a half stars and recommend it to readers who enjoy YA fantasy or historical fiction with a side of fantastical.

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