“FIRST LIGHT,” by Michele Paige Holmes, Mirror Press, $16.99, 494 pages (f)
Blend classic fairy tales “Cinderella,” “Beauty and the Beast,” “Sleeping Beauty” and “Snow White,” and Michele Paige Holmes’ debut fantasy novel, “First Light,” emerges. Holmes, who lives in Utah, has combined old elements to create a new fairy tale romance.
After two separate tragedies kill her parents, 17-year-old Adrielle is orphaned. Her parents' deaths set Adrielle on an epic adventure that causes her to cross paths with thieves, gypsies and fairies before she becomes a kitchen maid in the castle of Canelia. At the castle, Adrielle is enveloped in magic, curses, a search for a lost princess and a plot to overthrow the kingdom.
Prince Cristian, who is a classic, handsome, honorable fairy tale prince, enters in the midst of a kingdomwide curse. Not surprisingly, romance sparks between Adrielle and Cristian, and the two must work together to defeat the evil queen, Nadamaris, and her curse.
Adrielle and Cristian overcome many obstacles, including a kidnapping and a betrayal, to face Nadamaris in the final battle.
Holmes holds readers’ attention with the exciting battle and puts the characters in a believable amount of peril without being overly descriptive.
There are times when the plot is murky because of all the magical objects and goals that Adrielle is trying to accomplish. Some objects that are only mentioned in passing end up playing a significant role later in the story. Adrielle can be frustrating because plot points that are obvious to readers take the entire novel for her to discover. Although Cristian can be a little bland at times, overall, he is everything a reader could want in a prince.
On the whole, the novel is a fun but predictable twist on a classic fairy tale. Holmes pulled different elements from well-known tales and subtly wove them into the plot without overwhelming the reader.
The novel is appropriate for young adults. The language is clean, but there are battles with several torture scenes that are briefly described. The evil queen murders several minor characters, but the deaths are mentioned after the fact. There is no sexual content, but there is one brief mention of two characters sleeping together.