Chasing The Valley By Skye Melki-Wegner Publisher Review

Chasing The Valley Chasing The Valley Book One
Written By Skye Melki - Wegner
Published July 1st 2013
Fantasy, Dystopian
416 Pages
Thank you to Random House Australia
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★★★★★
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 is the first book in an epic trilogy of magic, treachery and survival.
As the alchemy bombs rain down on Rourton, Danika Glynn can't help but remember the last occasion where the city was decimated at the hands of King Morrigan, the night her parents and brother were killed. That was seven years ago and Danika is a Scruffer now, living on the streets and begging for food, while fighting for each meager wage from her lowly work in Rourton's underbelly. She's cold and alone, but she isn't prepared to die tonight as she scurries down into the sewers, the only safeguard within the city. As she stumbles across a group of teens planning to evade the king's oppressive reign, their plan is to escape the city for Magnetic Valley, a place where citizens live with freedom and safety. She is caught eavesdropping and sent on her way, they've no room for her in their group, considering she has nothing to offer them as an incentive. Danika often contemplates running, a suicide mission in which no escapee has survived without being recaptured, or killed. In two years she will be drafted into the army and forced to sacrifice her life for the King, the King who ultimately killed her family Only then will Danika be able to reveal her Proclivity, her magical link to nature. The city is reduced to mouldering ruins, plunged into mayhem, if she wants to escape... Tonight Danika will make her bid for freedom over the walls.

Teddy Nort is a pickpocket, born and raised on the streets and can charm anyone into turning the other cheek while he steels your wares, and he's part of the escapees. Even through Teddy is in awe of Danika being an amateur illusionist, it's still not enough to convince Radnor, the boy in charge of their liberation. The easiest escape route is to join a licensed trading crew, responsible citizens who can legally leave the city walls to trade items to sister cities. To barrel under the solid wall is impossible and Danika's only option is to scale over. But on the verge for her bid for freedom, Teddy and his crew are charging through the open gate by posing as Foxary riders. If she's caught, she'll be killed, so Danika runs amid the shouting and shots being fired, setting off a flare to provide cover for the crew, running towards a better life.

Fearing she's been caught, Danika stumbles upon Teddy, who has separated from his crew in the mayhem. Reluctantly, she accepts his help and the two become unlikely partners, navigating the rough terrain. The royal Hunters are in pursuit and escape seems improbable until Hackel, the fifth member in crew, engulfs their persuaders in a fiery blaze. The older and more experienced Hackel is a smuggler with a Flame proclivity, Danika's simple illusionist trick paling in comparison. Wealthy sisters Clementine and Maisy, paying dearly for his escapee services. The group of underage teens all keeping their magical prowess a secret, being forbidden to reveal your proclivity before the age of eighteen. With the numbers of Foxaries slowly dwindling, the group stumble across a fallen palace biplane, still carrying a full load of alchemy bombs. It dawns, the flare that Danika had set off in the commotion of escape... Has taken down the palace plane, making Danika number one on the royal hit list, one of the royal family is now scouting their location. But there is someone taking out the hunters, executing them before the crew stumble into their path.

Each night as the crew settles, Danika notices a kite flying high in the night sky. Surely it must be a trap, but as the night's pass, the kite flyer comes closer and closer to camp. Someone is following their trail and Danika breaks ranks and searches the hinterland, stumbling across Lukas. Lukas has been traveling for weeks, having just turned eighteen and refusing to join the King's army. His proclivity is that of the Bird, using his kite to attract those within the vicinity, taping into their vision to survey the area from above. Lukas is heading for the Magnetic Valley. His identity and presence kept a secret until the Hunters finally catch up with the group and Lukas comes to the rescue.

There is a price on Danika's head, a thousand gold coins for her capture, provided by the palace. The lure proving too great with one of their own willing to kill Danika for the illustrious reward, while baring the secret that Lukas carries close to his chest. Can he ever be trusted again? With an intense fire burning out of control within the township, the crew flee on the newly constructed train network, why would the King want to provide transport for the wealthy in and out of the gambling slum town? When the group share their histories and what has led them to join the crew, leaving Rourton behind, it all becomes clear that there is far more at stake than the group finding the Magnetic Valley, the evil reign of a kingdom is threatening not only their freedom, but the freedom for generations to come.

Kelly's Thoughts

Chasing The Valley is the young adult fantasy fusion novel of the year. It's an engaging mix of magic within an oppressive dystopian world, and blends so effortlessly together. In their world, the wealthy and homeless are both ruled by the confines of their walled city, those with money to burn living a fuller life, but all under the watchful eye of the palace and royal guards. The King is a tyrant, and will stop at nothing until he is the sole ruler and citizens at his mercy. The idea isn't unique, but the mixture of characters and surroundings not only make for a magnificent fantasy, but it's enchanting. I loved Danika, her story of her parents being killed was heartbreaking, but she was determined not to live life on the streets, alone and wondering where her next meal would come from. She isn't strong or sassy, she's real and not matter how hard she's kicked, she'll rise again.

There is no forced romance between the characters, and no horrid love triangle either. Teddy, the pickpocket is adorable. He's the entertainment within the group dynamic, taking a lighthearted approach to the situation. The wealthy twins come across as cruel and unforgiving, but also have a worthy reason for seeking to escape. Lukas is the mystery factor within the storyline, not featuring prominently, but just enough to keep readers intrigued.

It was so entertaining, that I found myself trying to preserve reading Chasing The Sky, but it was too difficult to put down. I absolutely loved it and now eagerly awaiting the second in this epic trilogy.

4 comments

  1. I've seen this at the book store but haven't really heard anything about it until your review! Sounds like the YA fantasy/dystopian blend was really done well here. I think I'll have to put it on my To Read list! Great review, Kelly.

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  2. This sounds great, I must get to it soon! And I love that you're reading The Sky So Heavy, it's one of my faves :)

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    1. It's one of my favourites now too! It was absolutely brilliant!

      Chasing The Valley is by far in my top five books of 2013. Hurry up and get started, can't wait to hear your thoughts. Thanks for popping by.

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