Young Adult Book Review: Lark Rising by Sandra Waugh

Title: Lark Rising
Series: Guardians of Tarnec
Author: Sandra Waugh
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Pages: 384 pages
Format: Finished Copy
Source: Publisher
Publisher: Random House Books

Lark has foreseen two things—she will fall for a young man with sage green eyes,and he will kill her.

Sixteen-year-old Lark Carew is happiest close to home, tending her garden and gathering herbs for medicines. But when her Sight warns her that monsters called Troths will soon invade her village, Lark is summoned on a journey to seek help from the legendary Riders of Tarnec. Little does she suspect that one of the Riders, Gharain, is the very man who has haunted her visions. Or that the people of Tarnec have called her there for another reason: Lark is the Guardian of Life, the first of four Guardians who must awaken their powers to recover four stolen amulets. Together, the amulets—Life, Death, Dark, and Light—keep the world in Balance. To take back the Life amulet, Lark will have to discover her true inner strength and give in to a love that she swears will be her downfall.

One of the first things that grabs your attention while reading Lark Rising is the beautiful writing and world-building, both of which draw you into the story easily. From the simple and peaceful daily life Lark experiences gathering herbs and helping her grandmother in their village Merith to the rolling Hills of Tarnec where the wild horses roam free to the Dark Woods where deadly creatures and dark magic have taken over, each setting is brought vividly to life with words that capture your imagination.

Lark is the type of heroine who at first appears timid and unsure, but as the story unfolds and her quest begins, it soon becomes clear that she is a heroine of quite, inner strength, determination and resilience. She is both gifted and tormented by the sight and the consequences it brings along with her unique ability to read energies. Therefore, being able to see and feel a person's histories and intent-both the good and the bad. Often overwhelmed by her gifts and their intensity she avoids contact with others, and rather remain hidden among her grandmothers medicinal gardens. All that soon changes. When she receives three separate signs and a vision that warns against the impending doom and devastation that troll like creatures known as Troths will wreak among her village, Lark is chosen to seek the help from the Riders of Tarnec, the legendary warriors who have battle the Troths before.

I loved the way author Sandra Lark gives us a heroine that does not necessarily have to fight physically to be strong and resilient, though she does so when needed. But instead, gives us one that grows from unsure and timid to a heroine awakening to her magical powers as a Guardian and learning her own strengths. The quest she ends up on time and again thrust her into the heart of danger, and each time she grows stronger in character. I sympathized with her self-sacrificing nature as well, and understood her need to expose herself to dangers rather than risk others. Imperfect, this was one of Larks traits that put her in danger more than once. Going from a simple country girl with the gift of sight to finding out that you are a Guardian of Life and re-awakened, you're bound to make mistakes, and it was this growth in Lark, her learning to trust in herself and her magic that held me captivated and rooting for her throughout.

There's no shortage of fantasy elements in Lark Rising. Readers are given hints through the folklore and once Lark embarks upon her quest the reader is introduced to plenty of fantasy elements to keep fans happy. Evil Troths, magical horses that bond with their riders, spirit/totem like animals and creatures that guide Lark on her quest,  and malevolent magic from Breeders as well as positive magic of the Guardians and their amulets There's a wonderful balance between the magic, the quest, and the characters that really kept the story and pace flowing.

There is a romance in Lark Rising, and is one that slowly unfurled and worked perfectly for the story. Lark has foreseen two things that set the tone for the possibility of a romance. She will fall for a young man with sage-green eyes ... and he will kill her. There's a connection between Lark and Gharain, as a Guardian and Rider, and though there is obviously some sort of mutual attraction between the two, they both fight it. Gharain is fierce, loyal, and has been devastated by a betrayal which causes him at first not to trust his feelings for Lark. Protective, gentle and courageous, I thought he was a perfect complement to Lark, and loved the way Sandra Waugh explained why these two were connected. Despite all this, the reader is never sure though if the romance will really work, a vision and the nature of her Lark's quest threatens all, and I held my breath in anticipation until the last page with these two.

Secondary characters that nearly broke my heart and I ended up loving! There's some wonderful interaction between Lark and the Riders of Tarnac that I enjoyed, and one in particular I can't wait to hopefully see his story. But, there are two very special characters who came as such a surprise, so unique and heartfelt that I just fell in love with them both. Rune and Twig, I'm looking at you both and Lark Rising is a better book with you two in it.

Lark Rising hit all the right buttons for me, and I loved every moment I spent with it! For me it was the perfect balance of magic, fantasy and world-building. Strong, but imperfect characters who show growth are my favorites and Lark is a wonderful heroine that I really enjoyed.

My Rating: 5 Stars. I loved it!

PLEASE NOTE: A courtesy review copy of this book was provided by Random House Books in exchange for my fair and honest review. Thank you Random House Books the review opportunity!