Friday, February 27, 2015

Dina L. Sleiman: Dauntless

By Kelly Bridgewater

Back Cover Copy: 

Born a baron's daughter, Lady Merry Ellison is now an enemy of the throne after her father's failed assassination attempt upon the king. Bold and uniquely skilled, she is willing to go to any lengths to protect the orphaned children of her former village--a group that becomes known as "The Ghosts of Farthingale Forest." Merry finds her charge more difficult as their growing notoriety brings increasing trouble their way.

Timothy Grey, ninth child of the Baron of Greyham, longs to perform some feat so legendary that he will rise from obscurity and earn a title of his own. When the Ghosts of Farthingale Forest are spotted in Wyndeshire, where he serves as assistant to the local earl, he might have found his chance. But when he comes face-to-face with the leader of the thieves, he's forced to reexamine everything he's known.

My Review:

I’m always on a lookout for good young adult novels for my preteen boys to read. My oldest loved, The Storm Siren by Mary Weber, so when I saw Dauntless displayed at the 2014 ACFW conference, I knew I would be looking into the book. It is a fantasy young adult novel in the vein of Robin Hood. What young boy would not like a good Robin Hood story? I’m glad I took the time to read this book before my boys because I loved it, and I’m afraid I won’t get the copy back once my boys get a hold of it.

The heroine of Merry Ellison captures me from the first scene where she jumps from a tree onto a poor unsuspecting traveler. I love how Sleiman created a daring, confident leader and protector in Merry. She is not weak, even though she was raised as a royal in her early years. She rose from that culture and proved that woman could do anything a man can do, becoming a good role model for young woman. In the beginning, Merry turned her back on God, but through the novel, Sleiman keeps allowing Merry to question that decision. In comparison, the hero, Timothy Grey, in the beginning, has shallow hopes and goals as he wants to work his way up the chain of command. But as he learns about Merry and understands her point of view on life, he starts to contemplate his decisions.  I believe teens will empathize with Merry and Timothy because of their childhood friendship, which turns into first love. It definitely brought a smile to my face.

Sleiman starts with an action scene and steals the readers’ attention, only from those who could spare a couple of moments. The story allows the drama to unfold and sink into the reader’s imagination, especially since Sleiman does a great job with description. As a young adult novel, Sleiman really understands sixteen and seventeen year olds and portray accurately their thoughts, struggles, and conflict with their first loves and the drama around them. Just like any good story, the conflict jumped off the page, dragging its readers through the drama from the choice between the old life and the new life, easy life or struggle through life, castle or the forest, love lost with Timothy or new love with Allen. There were many different choices for Merry and Timothy to pursue as the story revealed its secrets.

Overall, Dina L. Sleiman invites her readers to linger in Farthingale Forest while inviting children’s imaginations to a different time and place filled with sword fighting, a resilient heroine, a protective hero, a massive castle, and sneaky ghosts in this engaging Young Adult novel.

I received a complimentary copy of Dauntless from Bethany House Publishers through Net galley and the opinions stated are all my own.

Dina L. Sleiman’s Bio:

Dina Sleiman writes stories of passion and grace. Most of the time you will find this Virginia Beach resident reading, biking, dancing, or hanging out with her husband and three children, preferably at the oceanfront. Since finishing her Professional Writing MA in 1994, she has enjoyed many opportunities to teach literature, writing, and the arts. Her debut novel, Dance of the Dandelion with Whitefire Publishing, won an Honorable Mention in the 2012 Selah Awards. Also look for her novels, Love in Three-Quarter Time and Dance from Deep Within, and her Valiant Hearts series coming with Bethany House Publishers in 2015. Dina serves as an acquisitions editor for WhiteFire as well, and she loves to represent them at writer’s conferences throughout the US. Join her as she discovers the unforced rhythms of grace.

Dina L. Sleiman
From Dina L. Sleiman's Amazon's Author Page
How to connect with Dina L. Sleiman:
Author’s Personal Website:

Where to purchase Dauntless:
Barnes and Nobles
Wherever books are sold.

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