Title: The Benighted
Author: A.M Dunnewin
Genre: Fantasy Romance
The King was dead. His body was found slain in his room, only months after his son had been brutally murdered. Skylar Mandolyn, his daughter, has now become the last heir to the throne. But instead of becoming Queen, she was imprisoned for helping in the escape of Sir Harlin Brien, her knight who was framed for the King’s murder.
Confined to darkness, Skylar's captors have given her no choice but to yield to a new kind of enemy: a domain that has advanced in both technology and warfare. It's only when she refuses that the prison uses other means of persuasion. Though unmerciful, the whip lashings and isolation can't suppress her memories. She's forced to face again both her brother's death and her father's emotional decline, though even the darkness can't hide the deceptive hands that have tormented them all. Advisor turned adversary, Cross Lutherus has brought the ancient bloodline to its knees, and Skylar is the only Mandolyn left to feel his wrath.
With two kingdoms on the brink of war, and the end of her life drawing near, Skylar's only hope is in the person who haunts her the most – Harlin, the knight who was sworn to protect her. His presence surrounds her when the darkness screams louder than the prisoners, when Death smiles a faceless grin in between the cracks of the stone. And it's his strength she embraces just as the tremors start to rise from the deep, crawling up through the prison's walls to terrorize the benighted realm and all its souls.
The mystery was never how Harlin escaped. It is how he will return.
" I am the change they will forever regret!"
This is a dark and suspenseful tale of secrets, torture and good against evil. The Kingdom of Mandolyn is in disarray. The male heir to the throne has died a mysterious death, then the King is found slaughtered is his own bed. The princess' personal guard, the benighted, Harlin is accused of the crime and imprisoned. This leaves Princess Royal of Mandolyn, Skylar to rule the kingdom with the devious adviser to the throne, Cross Lutherus, by her side. Cross Lutherus hopes to rule the kingdom his way through the Skylar; however, he has underestimated her and her guard Harlin terribly.
We meet our wonderful heroine Skylar as she is being tortured in prison for the escape of Harlin, who was accused of killing the King. Skylar is a well-developed character and one fierce princess! She is smart, brave and determined. Along with her protector, Harlin, who is mysterious and one of the fearless benighted, they are quite a team to go up against. Most of all this is a tale of right and wrong and standing up for yourself, these characters let you live that. Along with A.M. Dunnewin's beautiful and descriptive writing, you can see the kingdom, the prison and even the torture clearly. Even the romance, which I could usually do without is meaningful; especially because Harlin needs Skylar as much as Skylar needs Harlin. There is an equality and strengths, and that's amazing. There was also a heart-pounding, un-put-downable exciting ending which left me impatiently waiting for the next installment of this saga.
A. M. Dunnewin inherited her love for mysteries and thrillers from her family, which motivated her to pursue a B.A. in Psychology with a minor in Criminal Justice. Although her stories cover a wide range of genres, she primarily writes historical fiction and thrillers. An avid reader at heart, she's also a passionate collector of both antique books and graphic novels, and has been known to search for stories in the most random places. She lives in Sacramento, California.
My blog: http://amdunnewin.wordpress.com
Skylar snapped awake from her hazy depression, looking about her and realizing she had walked further into the grounds than before, further than the pond would have allowed.
Her eyes scanned the edges of the walls, a terrible realization sinking in the further she pulled her gaze away from the landscape, the ground never changing from the snow white that extended out from the wall to where she was standing. Her eyes fell on her feet, and very slowly she slid her foot across the surface, scrapping the snow away and revealing the ice hidden underneath just as the first sounds of cracking found her ears.
She looked behind her, witnessing Harlin running as fast as he could underneath the bare Crimson Bride trees towards her. There was a single loud crack, and that's when the ground broke underneath her, causing Skylar to freefall into the freezing waters that were trapped under the ice.
Skylar found the ice above her was light except for a patch of dark blue. She kicked her legs as best as she could, scooping her arms around her in order to move upwards. The air in her chest burned, her lungs demanding oxygen. She saw the ice above her, the light of the snow surrounding the opening she had broken through. Panic tingled down her spine and forced her legs to kick, pushing her upward. Just as she lost the last of her air, the surface of the pond broke through and her head shot up into the open air, gasping as her arms wailed around her trying to keep herself afloat.
The voice flung itself at her as Skylar paddled as best as she could towards the nearest chunk of ice. She tried to push herself up on top of it, but the ice broke, and she fell back through, almost falling completely under again. The weight of the water-logged dress started to feel heavier now, the exhaustion of moving in the ice cold waters taking its toll on her.
She tried to paddle to the ice again, throwing her arm over the ledge so she could pull herself up. But she was too weak now, too tired, too shaky to lift herself. And so there she remained in the water, shivering and burning from the cold, looking out across the snow towards the voice who had been calling her name.