Chasing the Valley (Chasing the Valley #1) by Skye Melki-Wegner
Published July 1, 2013 by Random House AU
Source: the publisher via Netgalley
Rating: 3 stars
From the blurb: Escape is impossible. Escape is their only hope.
Danika is used to struggling for survival. But when the tyrannous king launches an attack to punish her city – echoing the alchemy bombs that killed Danika’s family – she risks her life in a daring escape over the city’s walls.
Danika joins a crew of desperate refugees who seek Magnetic Valley, a legendary safe haven. But when she accidentally destroys a palace biplane, suddenly Danika Glynn becomes the most wanted fugitive in Taladia.
Pursued by the king’s vicious hunters and betrayed by false allies, Danika also grapples with her burgeoning magical abilities. And when she meets the mysterious Lukas, she must balance her feelings against her crew’s safety.
Chasing the Valley by Australian author Skye Melki-Wegner, is the story of Danika Glynn, a sixteen year old orphan, living in Rourton, a city of Taladia. Taladia is governed by a royal family, led by King Morrigan, a man who sends his citizens to war. During another bombing of the city, Danika meets a band of kids keen to escape, and they grudgingly allow her to join them on their quest for the Magnetic Valley.
The author has created a rich fantasy world in Taladia, a place where magic abounds. People have magical proclivities – they specialise in a king of magic, and this is shown via the marks on their necks. These marks develop late in teenage years and once fully formed a person’s magical talent will be known. There's a clear hierarchy when it comes to the inhabitants of Rourton, lots of Richies as well as Scruffers - Danika falls into the latter category. To me their dialogue sounded English, and I pictured an old-style town as their location.
The characters are well developed, Danika in particular, but also her supporting cast including Teddy, Clementine, Maisy and Lukas. Despite their differences, the journey brings them closer together, and it was nice to see them slowly become friends.
The ending wraps up the events of this book, resolving the issues for Danika and Lukas, but also leads on to their adventures to follow – the sequel came out earlier this year and I’m sure I’ll be reading it soon. It was a bit of a different read for me and while I didn't fully connect with the characters or the story, it was enjoyable.
Thank you to the fantastic people at Random House for my review copy via Netgalley.