I received a physical copy of this book from the author in exchange for an honest review. I would like to recognize the amazing cover design done by ebooklaunch.com as it looks spectacular. I was told from the author that To The North is an adult urban fantasy story revolving around family, magic, and mystery. While this story does contain some urban fantasy troupes such as guns and cars, the plot and worldbuilding is that of a dark almost epic fantasy feel that will surprise you every chapter. To The North blends several aspects from urban, dark, and epic fantasy into a mystery story that was compelling, magical, and painful. This is Evan Grove’s debut novel and it his one you should put on your radar in the near future.
The story revolves around two main POV characters in the magical world of Oul. Emily Lee is looking for a quiet and peaceful life with her father until tragedy strikes. Emily’s father through a weird interaction gets himself and countless others get transported to a foreign land protected by a magic barrier with no way in or out. Emily decides to save her father and travel north to this mystical land of Odelia but she will find others waiting for her. Lehski Olent is a private investigator looking to uncover the mystery of the barrier as well as other strange events that have transpired across the land. Together with her brother Marty, they traverse the country side and stumble upon Mr. Lee’s home with Emily inside. The two women learn that they are both looking for the same person and even that both of their fathers had worked together in the past. From here the plot unfolds in a search for answers, even if the solution will cause the greatest destruction.
This world does contain buildings, cars and guns but also mystical creatures and magic. You will find cat like creatures, giants, magical trees, and gods long forgotten. The deeper you get into the story, the more you will feel Emily’s life as a tragedy with nothing seeming to go her way. With her back against the wall she will need to make a drastic decision that may not be in her best interest. Lehski takes a different path in the story and goes on a mission to learn the secrets of these strange events with the help of her mentors. When she discovers the truth, it is a rush against the clock to correct the wrongs of the world before it is too late. The writing style and pacing are told in such a way as to slowly pull you along while not feeling overbearing. The plot will continue to be peeled back like the layers of an onion and it may even make you shed a tear.
Before this book, my only experience reading an urban fantasy type novel was the Dresden Files and I think I am developing a liking for the sub genre as a whole. With interesting characters, forbidden magic, and an ever evolving plot To the North will definitely take you down a path you will not expect. As the first book in a duology, Evan Grove is looking to send this series out in style even if you will have to wait on the edge of a cliff for it.