[650]: Radiance by Grace Draven

24473763 Radiance by Grace Draven
Series: Wraith Kings, #1
Self-Published | January 13th, 2015
Adult Fiction | Fantasy | Romance
Rating: 2 out of 5 Stars


Brishen Khaskem, prince of the Kai, has lived content as the nonessential spare heir to a throne secured many times over. A trade and political alliance between the human kingdom of Gaur and the Kai kingdom of Bast-Haradis requires that he marry a Gauri woman to seal the treaty. Always a dutiful son, Brishen agrees to the marriage and discovers his bride is as ugly as he expected and more beautiful than he could have imagined.


Ildiko, niece of the Gauri king, has always known her only worth to the royal family lay in a strategic marriage. Resigned to her fate, she is horrified to learn that her intended groom isnโ€™t just a foreign aristocrat but the younger prince of a people neither familiar nor human. Bound to her new husband, Ildiko will leave behind all sheโ€™s known to embrace a man shrouded in darkness but with a soul forged by light.

Two people brought together by the trappings of duty and politics will discover they are destined for each other, even as the powers of a hostile kingdom scheme to tear them apart.

I keep trying to get past my aversion to fantasy because I really do feel bad about it. I mean, besides Science Fiction, I think it’s a genre where an author’s ability to build spectacular worlds can truly shine. I’m thinking maybe it’s because I haven’t been picking the right books? That my selection process is solely based on whether or not a book is high-fantasy? If it is, it doesn’t make the cut. Perhaps if I try the works of say, Brandon Sanderson or RA Salvatore, it would blow my mind and therefore would grow to appreciate it.

Sometimes, I think some book god is messing with me. The excuse that I use often before was that I don’t have the patience for intricate world-building. That the book must consist of romance first and foremost in order for me to enjoy it. Well, I’ve read a couple of fantasy novels in the last couple of weeks where the romance makes up the bulk of the story, but I’m still left scratching my head.

Radiance, for all intents and purposes, is a romance novel packaged as a light fantasy read. There was no quest and no curse. Just a couple of kids who aren’t meant to be together who somehow found themselves married in order to secure prosperity and unity between two kingdoms.


The End.

I kid you not.

As far as fantasy goes, this one was an ice-skater. And by that, I mean the author only skims the surface of the story. There was no depth or layers and not even a thin ice to give you a glimpse of what’s below the surface. The characters are pretty much one-dimensional, too. They don’t offer much in terms of emotions or personality. There was no chemistry to speak of so the romance was flaccid in as much as the straight-as-a-ruler plot is. Seriously, I almost fell asleep a number of times while listening to the audio book and it had nothing to do with the narrator but more about the lack of suspense or conflict in the storyline. I do, however, enjoyed the way they turned insults into endearments. It broke the monotonous dialogue just a bit.

I’m a bit of the odd duck in my opinion of this book, though. You have to take in consideration that I’m not a fan of the genre. Also, if you’re a reader of high fantasy, this book might not satisfy you. It was pure romance but the kind that I didn’t enjoy. I wasn’t able to empathizeย with the characters so the series was doomed from the start.

  • karina

    That sucks, J.! I love Draven, and fantasy romance as a genre, so I enjoyed this one. Sanderson is a pretty depressing dude, epic, but depressing. Have you read Patrick Rothfuss? I loved him on audio!

  • I’m sorry you didn’t get to enjoy this book! Also, I really don’t think you should feel bad about not enjoying the fantasy genre. You do you girl!

  • Uuugh. I’m sorry this book was so bad for you Joy : It sounds pretty awful, lol. Not a book for me either ๐Ÿ™‚ But aw. I hope you find fantasy books that you love. <3 You just need the right ones, haha ๐Ÿ˜‰ And ohhh. Question. Have you read the Graceling trilogy? I cannot remember. Ahh.

  • I do like fantasy stories, but I do agree that the worldbuilding can be overwhelming at times. I usually pick stories that are a lighter fantasy. For me personally, I’m a character reader. If the characters aren’t written well, then I won’t enjoy the story. I don’t think this is a story for me.

    If you want to try a fantasy romance that has great characters, I recommend The Twelve Kingdoms by Jeffe Kennedy. I love the characters and the world, but the world isn’t overly complex. I haven’t read a lot of fantasy, but I do like some of them. This one is my favorite so far.

    Melanie @ Hot Listens & Rabid Reads

  • I think these type of one dimensional reads are probably great for early teens, but anyone over the age of 16 would struggle with it. It just sounds really underdeveloped and not something I would probably pick up either even under duress. I struggle with a lot of fantasy as well Joy. I just find most of it overwhelming and it feels as though you’ve been dropped in the middle of a storyline and never truly understand what’s going on.

    Once I find a fantasy author I enjoy, I tend to stick with them. One I finished recently was Nevernight by Jay Kristoff. It’s an adult storyline but with YA characters and super sexy. Really unexpected actually.

  • Not a fan of high fantasy either! And if this bored you than I am sure it would bore me as well! Thanks for the honest thoughts Joy ๐Ÿ™‚

  • shootingstarsmag

    I’m not that fond of fantasy either, but even if I was, this definitely doesn’t sound like a book I’d be interested in.


  • I’ve had this on my TBR, and have been waffling back and forth with starting it. I don’t do fantasy either (except for urban fantasy, because that’s usually grounded somewhat in the real world), and it usually just aggravates me. Sorry you didn’t love it!

    • Well, if you enjoy romance, you might like this. If it’s fantasy you’re after, this is NOT fantasy. Lol.

  • Light for a fantasy. But I don’t seek light reads when I pick up fantasy.

    • Exactly. Which is probably the problem, because I don’t do well with high fantasy either.

  • Kim

    You’re not alone! I’m actually a huge fantasy fan, but I just didn’t really gel with this one. I liked the characters well enough. There just isn’t a huge amount of substance to this story. You summed it up pretty well. That is, literally, it. I need a lot more substance than that in my books. I mean, even a non-fantasy standard romance book would have an entire plot independent of the love story with conflict and interest. This one reads like something the author wrote for fun, just for themselves, but without adding proper story structure.

    • I mean, you could do without the wraith thing and this would still work as a contemporary fiction. Just saying.

  • Jazmen

    Sounds kind of meh but looks great, love the cover!

    • I don’t know…that grey man is freaky.

  • I appreciate this review. I have seen so many glowing reviews but I have never been sure about picking it up. I do like light fantasy and I may give it a try at some point. Great review!

    • Yes, you might enjoy it, Carole. I just didn’t connect with the characters and the uncomplicated story line.

  • Maja (The Nocturnal Library)

    I love romance as much as the next person, but when I choose fantasy, I want to read fantasy, darn it! I hate being misled into thinking my book will be something it won’t. I dont’t think I’ve seen this one before, but I’ll know to skip it if I do in the future.

    • The wraith thing was not explored as well. I mean, the series is called Wraith Kings, and yet, you didn’t really touch the subject too much. What’s up with that?

  • Nooo don’t look for books that are romance foremostly and THEN fantasy. Because it usually turns out like this D: I would suggest trying a high fantasy actually. I haven’t read from the two you mentioned but I have heard Sanderson is a great place to start ๐Ÿ˜€

    • Definitely. I have read one Sanderson but it’s not his usual doorstopper.

  • LOL, nice review ๐Ÿ˜€
    I was pleasantly surprised by this one and enjoyed it.
    But, for epic fantasy fans, ha, not for them, lacking in worldbuilding.
    For fantasy romance fans yes, I liked their interaction.

  • I picked this one up but put it back down fairly quickly. I think I made the right decision. I liked the premise of the book, but the actual writing was fairly cheesy. I DID find the descriptions of human food to be very amusing, however.

  • Keertana @ Ivy Book Bindings

    I’ve seen a LOT of raving reviews of this book, not to mention the author in general, but I’m not sure it’s for me. I love fantasy and I don’t mind a romantically-driven fantasy plot as long as it’s well-written and contains depth, which this seems to be lacking. I might give this a try but I might also skip out on it. Thanks for such a helpful and honest review, though, Joy! ๐Ÿ™‚

    Some fantasy I have really LOVED recently includes The Young Elites series by Marie Lu, which is really, really solid YA Fantasy as well as And I Darken by Kiersten White (more historical fiction than fantasy, it could be argued) and The Imposter Queen by Sarah Fine. In terms of Adult Fantasy, I am totally OBSESSED with V.E. Schwab right now. Like, I cannot get her characters or world out of my head type of need-to-be-diagnosed obsessed. A Darker Shade of Magic is brilliant, followed by an even better sequel, and her sci-fi adult thriller, Vicious, is also fantastic. Plus, she has a new YA Fantasy out, This Savage Song, which is quite different. I’m sure I can think up a bunch of other recs, but this is what I’ve been reading and loving lately so I hope you find something that works for you!

    • Thanks for the recs, Keertana! I just pick dup And I Darken, so yes!

  • Jasprit

    I’m so sorry that this book didn’t end up working for you Joy, you know I’m a fan of my romances, but I really don’t know if this sort of romance would work for me either :/ thank you for your honest review, I hope your next read is a lot more enjoyable ๐Ÿ™‚

    • I love romance. But this book has very little plot to speak of!

  • This book was so freaking boring, I ditched it for a nap when I picked it up. It had so much potential but it wound up being ehhhhh. I’m glad I’m not alone because all the reviews have been raving! Even the romance was annoying to me! I completely agree that the chemistry was flaccid. I actually DNFed this one less than 50% and it doesn’t look like I’m really missing out.
    I really think you should give A Promise of Fire by Amanda Bouchet a try – it’s on Netgalley! The chemistry was hot! Also C.L Wilson’s The Winter King is another great fantasy romance book! Either way don’t entirely give up on fantasy, because lol this book isn’t fantasy, unless you associate death by boredom with fantasy. ๐Ÿ˜‰

    • Ugh. I know! I swear I was nodding off while I was listening! It’s so boring. I’m definitely making a list for good fantasy recs! thanks, Nick.