Masters and Beginners by Daley Downing (Review)

Twinsies! My cat loved that there was a fellow stripey cat on this book. ^_^ (Thank you, Callette, for putting up with me using you as a photo prop. XD)

Title: Masters and Beginners
Author: Daley Downing

Date read: May 3, 2017
Rating: 5 stars
Genre: Contemporary Fantasy
Age: YA
Year pub: 2017
Pages: 194 (paperback)
Series: The Order of the Twelve Tribes, Volume 1
Fave character: Alexander Torrington (and Flynn… and Jules… and… yeah, lots of them. :D)
Source: From the author in exchange for my honest review
Links: GoodreadsAuthor’s Blog • Purchase here or email the author at the address provided on her blog 🙂

Masters and Beginners is a delightful modern fantasy novel for young adults (or anyone, really), featuring some of my favorite things, namely Faerie things! I had a lot of fun reading it! I don’t read a lot of modern fantasy largely because I don’t often like it, but this is one I didn’t mind reading and overall enjoyed muchly.

There are Faerie things (fae/faery/elves used interchangeably) which were really cool, and talking cats who are more than cats (Jules! Loved her! :)), Fae characters both good and bad, Seelie and Unseelie (I particularly liked/would like to know more about Alex…), other mysterious beings, mystery, family, humor (I laughed aloud a couple of times), adventure, and other awesome things like PORTALS, yay! (Loved how the portals were used.) It was a very rich tapestry of different elements. 🙂

It starts out a little bit slow, drawing us into this well-constructed storyworld of our modern times with an undercurrent of mythological things, and steadily builds as we meet beloved characters, are immersed in all the details and magical feel of it, and drawn deeper into the mysteries and dangers, until it gets quite exciting and intense near the end there! O_O I was so drawn into this storyworld, and although I might have liked to have gotten to know a few of the characters better (next time!), overall I really fell in love with these characters and this setting, and just had an incredible time reading it! ^_^

In a lot of ways, it was very different from other YA books I’ve read, which was both fascinating and a delightful breath of fresh air. 😀 There are actually *gasp* nice people! And the parents aren’t dead! *more gasps* And the parents are actually nice and a part of the story! *triple gasp* There was more of a focus on the entire family—who actually love each other *biggest gasp of all*—and even some homeschoolers. All of this was super neat to read in a YA book. 😀

Also, not a big thing, but the main characters, the Driscolls—Sophie and her brother Flynn, and their parents Kate and James, and little brother Callum—are already a part of this set of people (the Order of the Twelve Tribes, which is where the series gets its title) who know about the crazy stuff going on in the world, so they didn’t need to go through the “wait, faeries exist?” transition that’s common to a lot of modern fantasy type stories. They do, of course, become more a part of it, and learn new things, so it’s not like there’s no wonder or discovery, but already being past the big hump of knowing it all exists is a great twist. 🙂

Sometimes angels in fiction make me twitchy—I have no idea why—but I think I managed to get over that this time and found it intriguing and different how there were all kinds of legends, mythology, faeries, Nephilim, angels, etc. just woven together in the history of this setup. Some of it was a litle weird, but I hadn’t seen something like this done before, so it was interesting to have Faerie mythology and elements of Christianity/Hebraic history/legend seamlessly woven together and taken for granted as things that are a part of the world. 🙂

Other fun things:

  • References: I loved the little references to things like Doctor Who, the “Warriors” cat books, King Arthur, things like the veil between worlds being thin Halloween night, and other myths and legends—so much fun. 😀
  • Extras: There are lyrics or quotes at the beginning of all the chapters, as well as “extra” material at the end of the chapters—emails, documents about the Annex, texts between characters, letters, etc.—both of which lent it an extra atmospheric and authentic quality, which I absolutely loved! 😀

As for possible downsides (if they can be called that)…

  • I might have liked seeing more of some of the characters, but that’s what sequels are for. 😉 Same with the actual Annex (the warehouse with mystical artifacts)—I think I thought there would be more with that, but with portals and such, who even needs artifacts when you have the real thing? XD
  • At the beginning especially, there were a lot of names all at once that were a little hard to keep track of, which was simultaneously difficult and made it seem more real—like this is an actual organization with interconnected families, and naturally something that complex is hard to keep track of for a sudden reader. I might have liked some more reminders of who was who with some of the side characters, but that may have been me not paying enough attention.
  • One thing—the only thing I might have actually disliked—I’m still on the fence about… I can’t really talk about because it’s a spoiler about how some things ended up at the end. There are enough hints at something different happening in a later book that I’m deciding that I THINK it’s okay… so I will wait it out on that one to see. But it’s just a general trope I don’t like in fiction, so not a particular fault of this book, I guess? SPOILER (highlight to read):: When characters forget some of the things that happened, “for their own good” just because some powerful being, who’s supposed to be benevolent, can’t have them spilling secrets. But then what’s the POINT of having the story and them having those adventures? *wails* I want them to remember all those times they had together! D: Buuut there was a hint that mayyybe they might break free of it and remember at some point, so I’m holding on to that. 😉 ::END SPOILER

But overall, I didn’t have a lot of complaints! It was just a fun read that I loved! 😀 (For those who care, there was a little mild language, and some sweet possible romances, and of course a bit of fairytale violence, but nothing bad, really. Overall it’s a pretty good clean read, if readers are worried about that. :)) I found it to be definitely not as dark as a lot of the YA books out there, which made me happy. Also, the adults in the story have prominent parts as well, so it’s more rounded, about whole families, which I really liked, and makes it more likely that both young adult and adult readers will both find something enjoyable about the book. 🙂

Overall, I may have had a quibble or two, but really, I just had a blast reading it. 😀 I’m giving it 5 stars for the amount of enjoyment it gave me, and the breath of fresh air and fun this book was. 🙂 I can’t wait to see where some of this goes in later books, too! Definitely looking forward to future books in the series releasing someday so I can return to this delightful storyworld! ^_^

(I received a free review copy of this book from the author—many thanks! I was not required to write a positive review, and these opinions are entirely my own.)

Exciting book mail! This was my mini-subscription box with the book when it arrived! You can purchase an ebook or signed paperback copy, or a limited-edition mini-subscription box with surprise gifts and a letter from one of the characters. I recommend the latter. 😉

Faeriiiies! ❤ I just love faerie books, don’t you? 🙂 Are you a fan of contemporary fantasy? Does this book intrigue you? Lemme know in the comments! ^_^

Thanks for reading! 🙂

Dream away in those pages . . .

~ The Page Dreamer

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14 thoughts on “Masters and Beginners by Daley Downing (Review)

  1. Thank you so much, Deborah! I’m so glad you enjoyed!

    And with regards to the part in the spoiler — I did warn people ahead of publishing (a while back, though) that there would be a twist that might result in some wailing and a need for chocolate! 🙂 But I purposefully did not include it as a trope — I did it as a plot advancement/character growth tool for book 2 and beyond. 🙂 And I think you (and anyone else with a similar feel for this particular subject) will be pleased with certain things. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • You’re so welcome! And thank YOU! I loved it! ^_^

      AHA! Yes, that’s why I said I was on the fence… reeeeally holding out for hopeful things going down in the next book. 😀 Thanks for the reassurances! But ack, now I need book 2 even MORE!!! ❤

      Liked by 1 person

      • Paper Fury sells a mug on her Etsy shop that bears the logo “Drinking the Tears of My Readers.” That was in the back of my mind when I was writing the penultimate chapter. 😉

        I chose to include that part when I did because I was having trouble introducing a character who will be very important to everything else later on — and this is actually a really good way to do it. I swear, though, that the whole issue of “but it’s not fair” will be addressed. 😉

        Liked by 1 person

  2. May I first say that your cat is adorable and like super photogenic?!! *heart eyes* Like, my cat would never let me do that… XD
    Ooh, modern day faerie stories are fun!! I really need to read more of them. I love magical realism. 🙂 Love your review!! ^_^

    Liked by 2 people

    • D’aww, thank you. 😀 (And, confession: that was totally a fluke picture — the rest she just WOULD. NOT. COOPERATE. XD So I was really glad I got a good one. XDDD)
      Yesss, magical realism and faerie stories! Love them! And thank you so much, Madeline! ❤

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I may have squealed a little when I saw Callette loving on the book. THAT IS THE CUTEST THING I CAN’T. ❤ ❤ ❤

    And this books sounds amazing!!! Fairies and PORTALS. I LOVE PORTALS. Also actual family dynamics??? Definitely a call for lots of gasping. But that's so great! Plus Doctor Who references? Yep. NEED.

    That is really interesting, too, that the characters actually know about the fairies and things. That's a new twist on your standard fantasy book for sure. How fun!

    I really, really, REALLY like it when books add those little "extra" things within the story, like emails and letters and things. It always makes it so much more intriguing.

    This just sounds like a delightful read overall! And, though medieval fantasy will probably always be my favorite, I surprisingly loooove contemporary fantasy. I need more of it in my life!

    Liked by 2 people

    • Haha, yes, the moment was perfect! 😀 (Which is nice, because aaall the other photos I tried absolutely DID NOT WORK because she kept wriggling away. XDDD)

      PORTALS YES! DW and families and faeries and all the good things. 😉

      I definitely thought it was a twist, yep. 😀

      Ooh, yes, glad I’m not the only one who loves “extras” like that!!

      Yeah, I’m the same, but occasionally really good contemporary fantasy can be intriguiiiing! Like this one! ^_^

      Liked by 1 person

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