Book Review: Return to Royalty by E. Paige Burks

As a child (and occasionally on Tuesdays in my current existence) I would dream that someone would come whisk me away to go and a grand adventure to save a magical land. It never happened for me, but for Nyx in Paige Burks’ book Return to Royalty, her life is about to change.

1. Thoughts on the plot

This book follows Nyx, a college-age girl who is trying to figure out her life when strangers start making things a little difficult. Jet is a magic-user from a distant world sent here to retrieve Nyx, the lost Princess who can perhaps save their world from being overrun. Only, getting her to believe that is going to be very difficult. Jet only has a year to convince Nyx of her powers and prepare her, and things are not going to plan.

The premise for this book is fairly standard for YA portal fantasies. I have no problem with standard. I do wish that there had been a bit more of the adventure side of things rather than Jet trying to fit in with Nyx’s life as it was. It felt like he just sort of hung around Nyx rather than doing what needed to be done for a good portion of the book. This led to Nyx being woefully unprepared and a whole lot of mysteries for the reader to solve as we are just as unprepared as Nyx. While I understand the slow burn when uprooting someone from their life, in this particular instance, I wish the bandaid would have been ripped off.

2. Thoughts on the characters

Nyx is, so far as I can tell, average college student. She is busy worrying about her studies, about her crush, and about her friends. She isn’t thinking about a world she doesn’t know exists, and she is definitely unprepared for any sort of battle. I cannot fault her for any of this. It makes sense, therefore, when she sort of freaks out at the realisation of what is really going on. However, it was a little painful to read, as I wanted her to take action on her own rather than depend on Jet for everything.

Jet, on the other hand, knows exactly what is going on. He is, understandably, angry about being sent to fetch Nyx, but is the only one who can really do what needs doing. Only…he doesn’t. At first, it seems like he’s just being polite to Nyx’s guardian in heeding her wishes, but after a while, it seems like he’s trying not to be involved at all. I don’t particularly like Jet. He’s obviously very capable and yet chooses to do nothing and while this happens all too often in real life, I struggle with it in fiction. If a character can do something, they should, unless the reasons to the contrary are well laid out for the reader. 

3. Favourite part

The bit where things really started moving, plot-wise. I can tell you no more than that because of spoilers.

4. Critique

I think a lot of the issues I had with the characters could be fixed if the plot were to move a little more swiftly, rather than trying to integrate Jet into Nyx’s Earth-based existence, then the story would have gripped my attention a bit more. As it was, the book was good, just not quite what I had anticipated.

Overall, Return to Royalty is a YA portal fantasy that draws on many familiar elements to create the story. It is perhaps a bit slow, plot-wise, but it is a generally good book.