I think that every author dreams of what would happen if their characters came to life. If the creations of their mind, the depictions of themselves, were to appear in real life. For the main character in Jordan J. Scavone’s Night Warrior, this actually happens. And it’s nothing like what she anticipated.
1. Thoughts on the plot
I really enjoyed seeing this twist on the typical YA portal fantasy, where instead of being pulled into a magical world, the characters of Viranda’s fantasy novel are pulled into our world. This presents a whole slew of very interesting possibilities: technological difficulties, interacting with “normal” people, what happens when magic appears, etc. I think the plot was fairly good in combining the events of the magical world of Lingard with the reality of Earth. Each situation was of a higher degree of danger and drama and the characters had to learn to face it accordingly. I would say that a lot of the worldbuilding was a bit info-dumpy, since we learned of the situations through doors in Viranda’s mind being opened and revealing lots of information at once.
2. Thoughts on the main character
Viranda is an interesting main character, given what one usually sees as the stereotype in YA novels featuring a female lead. Instead of the pretty and perfect magical warrior who just doesn’t know it yet, Viranda is flawed. She injures herself at the beginning of the novel and that stays with her. She is uncertain and deals with normal emotions like jealousy and fear and selfishness. But she also is a good friend, determined to help solve the problems, and willing to do what it takes. I like her, basically. I think it would have been nice to see a bit more development in her actions and interactions with others rather than being informed of what it was that was happening with her, but on the whole I like her.
3. Favourite part
This isn’t really a specific scene, but rather the fact that when Viranda injures herself at the beginning of the book, the injury takes time to heal. It doesn’t magically go away. It stays with her throughout the book and becomes another challenge to overcome. I like it when things like this are consistent throughout a story, because I’ve seen too many books where a character gets injured and then ignores it until all the action is done. It made this more real.
My main critique is to do with the worldbuilding. Viranda learns about the situations with her characters and the world of Lingard by means of doors in her mind opening and revealing information. This could be done to very cool effect, and is, for the most part. However, there are some parts near the end of the book where Viranda seeks information and things that have not been hinted at or mentioned at all throughout the book appear to flesh out a character or to provide a solution to the problems that have been plaguing them the whole book. It feels a little like a McGuffin and throws a solution at us without really having an impact on the characters or the plot that we’ve seen thus far.
Overall, I would say that Night Warrior is a fun book that twists the typical YA portal fantasy into something new and entertaining. The plot is interesting and there is enough going on to keep you engaged. I would say that this is a solidly good book.