Book Review: The Vengeful Half (The Hidden Lands Book 1) by Jaclyn Dolamore

Olivia has grown up in hiding with her mother warning her about the Hidden Lands, but when her mother's past catches up with her, Olivia finally gets to travel there herself. Even though Alfred is the heir to the family who wants to use her mother for her potion-making skills, Olivia still puts her trust in him, as well as some other new people in her life. While Alfred tries to decide what to do about joining his family business, Olivia tries to solve the mystery of her emerging telepathic powers and the telepath who seems to be after her.

Book Review: The Vengeful Half (The Hidden Lands Book 1) by Jaclyn Dolamore | reading, books, book reviews, fantasy, urban fantasy, young adult, telepaths, blindness
Title: The Vengeful Half
Book Number: Book 1 of TBA
Pages: 317
My Rating: 3 Stars
More Info: Goodreads, Amazon


*I received a free ecopy of this book via YA Bound Book Tours in exchange for an honest review.*

This book was well-written enough I think, but the problem for me was that it wasn’t at all what I was expecting from the blurb. I was expecting a kidnapped mother, a girl whisked away to some other realm, lots of action and adventure and maybe some semi-dark and emotional scenes as she searched for her mother and pieced together clues, ran from and/or battled the villains, and got to know the mysterious guy she had no choice but to trust if she ever wanted to see her mother again… but it wasn’t like that. Yeah her mother was kidnapped and she went to another realm, but her mother was just taken to a cushy prison where Olivia stayed in the apartment with her, so there was no searching or action or adventure, and then the whole book ended up being about politics. A small fraction of the story involved Olivia’s telepathic powers and a villain, but it was mostly about the families who controlled Atlantis and manipulated and schemed to get what they wanted. I can enjoy politics depending on the book, even though it’s not generally my thing, but I’m sorry to say I didn’t find the manipulating and scheming in this one to be very exciting.

There were also a couple chapters in the middle that I found strange in which the author interrupted the story to talk about her inspiration and the like. Honestly I was never very into the story to begin with, but, if I had been, it would have completely thrown me out of it.

I did like, however, that there was a blind character. Some of the impact of his blindness was diminished by his telepathic ability that allowed him to kind of “see” a room and the things around him in a different sort of way, but the telepathy only worked for short periods of time, and it wasn’t perfect. He still tripped and ran into things sometimes, he still needed to take someone’s arm sometimes, he used a text-to-speech program for text messages on his phone, he read in braille, he couldn’t drive, etc. So there was at least some acknowledgement of his struggles. And it was also nice that he didn’t really see it as a disability. Rather, he saw as just a part of who he was, and that was why he didn’t want to get rid of it even when he had the chance.

So overall, this wasn’t a book that sucked me in, but I appreciated getting to experience the POV of a somewhat blind character, and it might be more a more enjoyable story to readers who do like reading about politics.


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  1. Annika @ Hiding Books

    Politics isn’t really what I’d expect based on that blurb either! YA fantasy isn’t as fraught with politics anyway, I think – that seems to mostly be found in high fantasy books (usually the more… masculine/male-oriented ones) – for whatever reason. So anyway, that’s kind of surprising but it might work for some readers of course! The other thing – a blind person (despite the telepathic abilities), and good treatment of the disability is nice. That’s just surprisingly rare to find that in a book.

    1. Kristen Burns

      Yeah, the book was just completely not what I was expecting from the blurb, and that’s never a good thing. It almost was like high fantasy since it mostly took place in another realm, but their realm had lots of stuff from the real world, and they traveled to the real world sometimes, etc., so I couldn’t actually classify it as that. But I don’t think politics are mostly found in male-oriented books. I feel like a lot of the somewhat popular books lately have had lots of politics since a lot of them have been about royalty and whatnot, but I just tend to avoid those kinds of books because it doesn’t interest me.

      The blind character was a nice addition though since we talked in another comment thread how few fantasy books there are out there that include disabilities of any kind. And even less that actually have good treatment of the topic, as you said.

      1. Annika @ Hiding Books

        almost-high-fantasy is hard to classify. I guess you’re right, actually. It’s probably just my old habits of being biased towards reading popular high fantasy which in the olden days seemed so over-populated with male voices. Whereas in YA we seem to have a dominance of female characters. Strange!

        Yes – disability is important to include, and being done correctly is always awesome!

        1. Kristen Burns

          I really don’t read a lot of high fantasy, so I’ll have to take your word for it about the older books, but we definitely do have a dominance of female characters in YA nowadays!

  2. Lola

    That red figure on the cover looks creepy. It’s a shame when that happens and the book is so different from your expectations. It happens to me sometimes as well and the book isn’t a bad one, but just so different from what I expected which makes it difficult to enjoy.

    That’s strange there are chapters in the middle of the story about the author her inspiration, shouldn’t those be at the end or something?

    The blindness of the character does sound really well done. With how it felt realistic and the telepathy didn’t completely compensate for it. And I once read an article online that also mentioned that for blind people they just live with it and are used to it and doesn’t feel as much as a disability. So it sound s great the author managed to convey that as well in this book.

    1. Kristen Burns

      Yeah, from the blurb it sounded like it could’ve been something I’d really like, but then it ended up being really not for me, though not necessarily a bad book, as you said.

      I really didn’t understand the chapters in the middle thing. I agree, that’s the kind of thing that belongs at the end. And some of them were just drawings and backstory about characters, but not even important characters to the story, it was just extra stuff, so it should’ve been at the end.

      I mean, I don’t know that it was realistic since he had the telepathy? But yes, I was glad the blindness wasn’t completely canceled out by it. And I did also like that he didn’t see it as a disability. I knew someone who was colorblind (obviously not the same, but that’s not the point lol), and he said he once got an injection or something that allowed him to see in color for like 24 hours, but it was so not what he was used to that he didn’t even like it. So it makes sense. I mean, if you were born with something or got it at a young age, that would just be your life and what you’re accustomed to, and I can understand not wanting to change that.