Y’all, I’m ECSTATIC to be reviewing Jayden and Dana’s book today! Ready to hear about my top-favorite read of 2020? Here we go!
Title: Dana Illwind and Growing Shadows
Author: Arthur Daigle
- Date read: January 20, 2021
- Rating: 5 stars (6 out of 5 stars, TBH)
- Genre: Fantasy
- Age: Teens and adults alike will enjoy it
- Year pub: 2020
- Pages: 289 (paperback)
- Series: Book 1
- Fave character: Jayden!
- Source: Amazon
- Links: Goodreads • Amazon
Well, that made it to my top-five favorite books of all time! Jayden and Dana are some of my favorite characters EVER. I was a fan of short stories about their adventures (two of them first appearing in Fellowship of Fantasy anthologies, and on Booksie), but they finally have a novel which just released and I. AM. ECSTATIC. I’ve read this four times now and I never get tired of it. I just can’t put into words how much I love it! I love humorous banter, I love fantasy stories, and I love these characters SO MUCH.
What do you get when you pair up a practical, solid farm girl and a lone-wolf, elegant, snarky, insanely powerful enchanter with a chip on his shoulder, and set them loose to fight monsters and injustice in a fantasy kingdom? This snarky, clever, sheer fun fantasy novel, is what! It perfectly balances comedy, epic swashbuckling, and those humorous or heartfelt character moments that I’m totally here for! Did I mention Dana Illwind and Sorcerer Lord Jayden are one of my top favorite duos EVER? THEY JUST MAKE ME SO HAPPYYYY! *deep breaths*
Let me break down some of my favorite things about this book.
1. Jayden: He’s my favorite. An elegant enchanter with anger management issues but a burning heart for justice, he’s open about his own flaws but won’t tolerate injustice and has it out for the king and queen. He can be politely cutting, snarky, or in a towering rage of righteous anger in turn, and woe to the corrupt, the villains, the oppressors who get in his sights. He has the best dialogue (my favorite!), and is always ready with a cutting remark or a bit of his shadow magic. (Also, watch out if you disrespect his friend Dana—oh, boy.) He covers a hurt, broken past with an exterior that’s alternately bored, casual, angry, or just—Jayden. I can’t do him justice in a description like this, but he’s one of my top favorite characters EVER! (He also gives me slight Howl vibes.)
2. Dana: Then we have Dana, who is just as marvelous in a different way. This sturdy, good-hearted girl is #goals. It’s amazing the way this fifteen-year-old girl can be the only friend of the world’s only sorcerer lord—and the only one to make him see reason. 😉 She brings out the best in him and he in turn respects and informs her, and they’re my faaaavorite! They make an incredible pair, with Dana being the reasonable one trying to stop him from getting killed or redirecting his destructive tendencies, and often saving the day in her own way. I can’t really describe her either but she’s got to be one of my favorite heroines, and I don’t have many of those. She’s fabulous! I just love seeing her (and both of them) grow on this journey. They’re the most epic duo!
3: The Humor: I LOVE funny books. Love them. The style and the humor, the mix of comedy and dry wittiness, and all the snark and bantering dialogue! Glorious. There’s such a variety of humor, which I think is tons of fun, and I love how the funny parts often keep it lighthearted, without detracting from some of the heavier topics and the real struggles they face in this kingdom. Humorous AND epic? Sign me up! Which brings me to the next part.
4: The World and Story: Part tongue-in-cheek comedy, part epic fantasy kingdom, Meadowland Kingdom etc. creates the perfect backdrop for Dana and Jayden’s adventures. A mix of ordinary, spooky, and elegant in turns, the towns and people they encounter are deep in struggles caused by monsters, injustice, and a king and queen out for destruction. I love how, despite Jayden’s issues, he and Dana do so much good throughout the kingdom. They battle injustice wherever they see it, rid the world of destructive monsters, and encounter zany characters like Sir Lootmore and his terrifying cat Jumpscare, Suzy Lockheart the alchemist, various mischievous goblins, and others. It’s the BEST mix of my favorite type of epic fantasy with humorous fantasy. It’s just everything I’ve ever wanted in a book!
I’ve been awaiting this book releasing ever since the very first short adventure I read about Dana and Jayden in the multi-author anthology “Mythical Doorways.” Over the next couple of years, I followed their continuing adventures with sheer delight every time a new “episode” was posted online—my family can attest to how my day was always brightened and I’d go around in a cloud of happiness all day whenever there was “a new Jayden and Dana story!”
I just can’t explain my love of these characters and their fantastic, humorous, feelsy adventures. I’m absolutely beyond thrilled that there is now a whole novel available so the world can experience this book that I’ve been in love with since before it existed in book form. It’s a dream come true to finally have it on my shelf! I can’t wait for the next book. ^_^
DANA ILLWIND AND GROWING SHADOWS is my favorite book I read in 2020 and one of my top-5 favorite books I’ve read, period. Joining the ranks of Lord of the Rings/Silmarillion, Howl’s Moving Castle, and Paper Crowns, I simply ADORE this book and can’t recommend it highly enough! Perfect for fans of Diana Wynne Jones, Discworld, or Magic Kingdom for Sale/Sold. Teens and adults alike will all find this book delightful.
Go read it! We all need some humor, adventure, and these amazing characters to improve our lives. It’s my favorite and I wholeheartedly recommend it!
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