Dawn of Wonder, The Wakening
Dawn of Wonder is the first book by Jonathan Renshaw, and it is an ambitious work. At 712 pages, it is a book that the reader will need to invest some time in to read. Luckily, it’s well worth it.
The story centers around a young boy named Aedan, and his very realistic and hard-hitting journey. One of the things that stood out to me was just how much time, and care went into building Aedan’s story and letting the reader truly understand who he is. Far too often in fantasy, character development is stunted in order to hurry to the next action scene. This book opts for a very slow (but fascinating) progression and seems to leave nothing behind.
There is limited magic for those of you who are fans (though big things are often hinted at), and the world and plot seem somewhat familiar. However, this book does a better job of immersing the reader in the story than most do, and the final product is deeply engrossing. I loved Aedan’s friends and laughed several times at their antics. The humor balances the book very well and makes the dark moments more manageable for both Aedan and the reader.
I found myself rooting for the main character more than almost any I’ve come across. I was pulled into his struggles and his life early on, and that never changed. Renshaw doesn’t pull any punches when it comes to the tough subjects in this book, and there are many. From childhood abuse to the loss of loved ones, to life-changing injury, our young Aedan has much to overcome.
Renshaw is a tremendous writer, and I can’t wait for his next book. On to the details!
The Final Analysis:
Plot: Very interesting coming of age story which features a young boy fighting through incredible struggles as he embarks on an epic journey to avenge a great injustice by an evil power. The plot deals with very serious issues in an emotional and relatable way.
Characters: There are few main characters I have gotten to know as well as Aedan, and I am rooting for him heartily. His friends are appropriate for the story, and add a great deal of humor and entertaining dialogue. The adults in their world are unique and memorable.
Story and Pacing: The story is very well told, and exceptionally well developed. Nothing feels rushed, and I was always left wanting more. There aren’t any world-changing events in this book until the very end, but that didn’t matter to me because I was so involved in the progression of Aedan. The pacing was average to slow, and there were a couple of points where it was too slow.
Readability: Well edited in terms of grammar/punctuation, I didn’t notice any flaws. I did feel like there were some areas which could have been cut down or cut out entirely. The author did a lot of research for this book, and it shows. Sometimes, too much of it made its way into the book. The dialogue was excellent.
Biggest positive: The investments made in the main character. Extremely well developed and realistic.
Biggest negative: Parts of the book included too much detail/explanation. There were a couple entire chapters which added thousands of words without any real purpose.
You’ll love this book if: You enjoy coming-of-age fantasy with real and likable characters.
You’ll hate this book if: You don’t enjoy reading about young characters or investing time reading a slower developing story.
4.25 Stars! Great Book!
I can’t give it 5 because of the parts that went a little too long, and because I wanted Aedan to have a few more bright moments. It felt at times as though nothing was ever going to go well for him.
This is a remarkable book that I highly recommend to fantasy readers. I will be a very early reader of the second installment!
The audiobook version of Dawn of Wonder is even better! Tim Gerard Reynolds delivers a fantastic narration and turns this book up a notch. If you’re a fan of audiobooks and are considering this story, you will not be disappointed.