The Duchess Quest by C.K. Brooke
Welcome to another book review! First up I want to say a big thank you to 48fourteen for letting me review this book, I must admit I was torn between this book and Foreshadowed. But I could only choose one, so I wisely went with The Duchess Quest.
As usual I made notes while reading the book and for some rather odd reason, I completely forgot that my laptop had not only Word but also notepad, my brain was that focused on the story on that my laptop became, well, a sticky board for the post it notes I’d used to make my notes. Just take a look at the evidence.
My eagerness to read this book began when I loaded it onto my tablet and flipped to the first page of the prologue. I do this to make sure the file is working and there’s no formatting issues (if there is I switch from one reader app to another) my eyes were drawn to this:
“They were condemned to die.”
That first sentence of this book gripped me. I didn't know who they were, but I felt sorry for what was to become of them. The prologue pulls you in, to a night of chaos, fear, anger, change. Brooke sets the scene so vividly that I was sat wide eyed, afraid for the fate of the little girl. I challenge anyone to not be moved by this prologue.
Chapter one begins 15 years later, Duchess Eludaine (the little girl) has been reported as being alive and her biological uncle is desperate for her return to her rightful place with him, in exile. He’s offering a large reward of 50 gold and the girl’s hand in marriage, so there is a nice big group of men desperate to get their hands on the gold and the girl.
The journey for the men on the mission seems to be pretty straightforward. That is until the majority of them are torched alive while they slept. Ah gotta love an assassin. So it appears there are three main male characters Mac, Bos and Cosmith.
Mac seems to be a bit of a boy next door type, a great friend and confidant, he is the youngest of the group searching for the Duchess. Bos appears to be bit of a big brother type, he’s the size of a giant, noble and genuinely cares for returning the Duchess and not for the gold or marriage. He is the oldest of the group. Then there is Cosmith. Now he’s the Glen Quagmire (from Family Guy) of the group, only joking, he’s not as bad as Quagmire, but he does like the ladies. He’s a bad boy and is very much in it for the money. His number one priority is himself. Nothing he does is without benefit to himself.
Duchess Eludaine, or Dainy as she likes to be called, lives with the two women who she was entrusted to on that awful night 15 years prior, Paxi and Priya. Through the women we meet Pascale who Dainy calls her uncle. Pascale informs his sister Paxi and former love Priya about the mission to find the missing Duchess and they realise that the girl is their Dainy. Awww.
It’s really refreshing to see the different descriptions for the skin colours of the characters, instead of just black and dark, white and pale. It gives your brain a better picture of how the characters appear and I like that.
It makes sense that Pascale would be the one who would meet Bos and Mac and bring them to meet Dainy, with Cosmith in tow after some amusing karma moments for him.
Dainy’s innocence and naivety remind me slightly of an early Tess from Tess of the d’Urbervilles. But she is very feisty as well. There is a scene on a boat between Dainy and Cosmith and all I can say is, thank god I wasn't on that boat. Ouch.
I'm going over the notes I've made and there’s a lot of moments where I want nothing more than to bang some heads together.
This story is one of love, adventure, danger, discovery and betrayal. At the beginning, I really didn't like Cosmith, but by the end, I was rooting for him. I really liked Mac to begin with but as the story developed, sides to him came out that concerned me, to the point where it seemed wrong for him to be pursuing Dainy for himself. The only opinion that didn't change was that of Bos.
C.K. Brooke has done a wonderful job in creating a world where you feel as if you are walking beside the characters as you read. There were times I sat and tried to figure out how a word/name sounded (I didn't find the pronunciations list until I’d finished the book!) and times I felt like the story was becoming predictable, except for the end. I tip my hat to C.K. Brooke for the little twist with Cosmith at the end, I certainly didn't see that coming and had to re-read that page a couple of times just to be sure I’d read it right.
I feel that overall, this was a lovely little read and it’s definitely worth checking out the 48fourteen website where you can read the first 4 chapters.