Title: BORN AT DAWN
Series: DA’VALIA TRILOGY #1
Author: CHRISTINA DAVIS
Genre: YOUNG ADULT FANTASY
Publication Date: NOVEMBER 15, 2020
ABOUT THE BOOK
When a heist goes terribly wrong and the binding spell holding 17-year-old Neva’s powers at bay is shattered, the half-human thief knows she’s in trouble.
Neva has always hidden her Da’Valian heritage while working risky jobs to make a name for herself and serving at her family’s tavern, but she won’t be able to hide much longer. She can either risk the safety of those she cares about or seek out her mother’s people to gain control over her emerging powers.
The Da’Valia are beautiful, brutal creatures created by the god of war, and the austere Da’Valian soldier Astiand is reluctantly agrees to take Neva to his clan under his protection. She makes unexpected friends, including the handsome fighter Emiliand, and a new enemy in the clan’s ruthless leader.
Spying on her guardian, the sly heroine quickly discovers just how deep she has stumbled into a dangerous, developing clan feud.
Will she be able to embrace who she is in time to keep her loved ones safe?
First book in a trilogy and I can already feel that the next two books will be a hit (hopefully). I loved this book so much, it was really an enjoyable read. I didn’t know what to expect other than I was hoping it would be a good book and it turns out to be a lot better, thankfully.
The opening scene already set the tone for the whole book and that’s how I know it was going to be one epic and an enjoyable ride. The heist was the opening scene and it was really a challenging heist. I was already nervous to see what the heroine would do. That was really an unexpected opening scene; the action that includes magic, and the tactics to steal a magical object. It was quite a powerful scene to open a story like that.
I still couldn’t wrap my mind around the fact that a single magical goblet is the reason why this book exist. It was all the goblet. From the start to finish, the goblet was the one that attracted all the chaos and the one that put everyone in danger. I wonder which object will be the one to continue on bringing a lot of chaos next, I knew the second one is a person but the third is still a mystery. I hope to find out more about it in the next book, perhaps.
The main point is that this story is about a bunch of creatures called Da’Valia, these bunch have three different clans but the main focus of this book is the Da’Voda clan. Da’Valia is a bunch of vicious creatures with horns that are skilled fighters, powerful, and knowledgeable. These are the type of creatures you certainly don’t want to mess with because from I’ve witnessed in this book, they are too scary and feral but also, they can be caring and sweet too (it all depends on the individuals attitude and personality).
What I liked the most about these three clans are that they are different from each other; their uniforms, their laws, the way they act, the way they live their lives, the way the leaders treated their own clans etc. I loved seeing the differences between the three clans, and despite they are different from each other even though they are the same creatures, they still have the same goals which is to obtain three objects that hold the power of their god. Also, the feud between these clans was bigger than I thought, and I can already smell the bloods that will be spilled during the battle. Am I ready? Maybe or maybe not. Do I want to see it? Absolutely.
The object in this book is the goblet, and it has the power to predict the future. Let me just say that the future that was shown in the opening scene of the book came true quite fast. It was terrifying how none can be avoided. I wonder what is the last object, the second one is a person as was revealed later on. I hope the next book will give the same terrifying and suspenseful feeling like this one did.
As for the magic and the action, there are plenty of it and I enjoyed every single second of it. I liked seeing the Da’Voda soldiers practicing using their magic and their weapons. My most favorite was when the heroine along some of her friends are using their magic at the border for practice. That was an intense and very much an entertaining scene.
This book was full of mystery, lies, secrets, and a tragic past that held many things that not many knows about. It was actually smart the way the author put some information from the heroine’s mother’s journal on top of every chapter, because those informations are the important ones that will help the readers understand what happened to the Da’Voda clan in the past, and how the three objects was found and where it is in the present day. The heroine’s mother provide a lot of big informations and one of it is a very surprising discovery about the power the heroine possessed. The journal and the story are very much connected, so don’t dismiss it if you were to read this book.
Also, there was a bit of backstory on the origin of the Da’Valia creatures, and how they were created. I really dig their origin and I admit, they were created out of a nasty rivalry between their god and his wife. I can already picture how it all went down, definitely not good.
The storyline and the plot are enough to keep me intrigued the whole time. I had some theories regarding the heroine and some of the characters that appeared in this book, surprisingly all of my theories turns out to be right. Even when it was proven right, I still can’t stop feeling surprised. Never thought I would get it all right considering this book are well-written and well-plotted.
Now, let’s talk about the characters…
Neva is the heroine aka the female protagonist of the story. I’m not usually impressed by many female protagonists in the Fantasy genre, there’s only a few female protagonists that I actually find very impressive, and Neva is one of them.
Neva is a thief who was hired to steal things and she is very pro at it. It was no wonder she knew how to fight, but her fighting skill wasn’t that good at first, not until she joined the Da’Voda clan and embracing her Da’Valian nature that she inherited from her mother. She was a very determined girl who wanted to find out everything about what happened to her mother, and she was also slowly learning how to be part of the Da’Voda clan.
Neva slowly grew on me, at first it was really hard for me to take her seriously but once I saw her potential and what she can do, I started to respect her. All the training she had with the clan’s master really paid off, and when she reach to her full power, that scene was epic. No one taught her how to use her magic, only how to use weapons and her fists when it comes to fighting, but guess what…she taught herself how to use and control her magic. Her magic was still a bit wild after the final battle scene, but I hope she would train herself more on how to control it better.
Aside from being the most powerful Da’Valia, she was also good at taking care of her family. She sacrificed most of her time by taking two jobs just so she could provide for her family. She has a good heart, and it was really sad to see her mother wasn’t there to be with her. The epilogue scene made me happy that she got her family out of their hometown and moved to somewhere else but then again, her past will definitely catch up to her. For other readers, be prepared for the big surprise about Neva unless you can figure it out halfway through the story.
Astiand is around Neva’s age but a lot more rougher and tougher than her. He had to take care of Neva since it was his decision to bring Neva to his clan. I admit that he was a bit mean to her for the most part, but then he actually acted like that for the sake of protecting her. If he didn’t tell her that his mother knew Neva’s mother then I don’t think Neva would actually believe that what he did was to protect her. His action was mostly questionable and I was confused on why he lied for her to their clan leader and then back to ignoring her while they live in his house together. He was really hard to read, took me a bit longer to understand what kind of person he is.
I wanted to learn more about Astiand and read his thoughts regarding Neva and the clan business. He might be serious and doesn’t always smile to others or trust other people, but he actually have a kind heart. The final battle scene proved that he did everything he can to protect the only girl who ever caught his eyes. The moment he told Neva the truth, I had no doubt that he would continue on protecting her after that but he might be mad at her for what she did after their last conversation. It’s a typical Astiand thing.
I do hope the next book will have a dual POV—Astiand and Neva. I need to get inside Astiand’s head and try to see things through his eyes because he was really hard to figure out. I also need to know his opinions regarding Neva’s action, Trinizhi’s agenda, and the clan’s crisis. He is a very compelling character with a slight complication.
I wouldn’t say there was an actual villain in this book because most of the characters even the bad ones are good but they just have different intentions from one another, and the said intentions are what makes one bad to the eyes of the others. From what I can tell, since the beginning even in Neva’s mother’s journal, it was hinted that Trinizhi have a bad intention and her agenda is different than many Da’Valian, so to me that made Trinizhi the villain but from what I’ve seen, she hasn’t shown her cruel and evil side yet so I can’t say she is the villain.
If Trinizhi will be the villain, then I want to see an actual build up for her character to become the villain in the trilogy. I knew she was a rough person considering she is the leader of the Da’Voda clan, but she was also having a lot of secret meeting with her alliances and that made me suspicious of her. I guess, I just have to wait and see.
As for the romance, this one wasn’t really hard to see actually. It was pretty clear since their first meeting that Astiand and Neva would become a thing even though it was against the clan rules. They’re a rebel and a strong-headed duo so it doesn’t really surprise me. These two can’t even stand each other and I’m sure by seeing each other a lot nearly made their head explode since they live together in one house.
Despite not being able to stand one another, it was really funny seeing Astiand got jealous whenever Neva went out with her friends and some of them are male, or whenever she had to train with Emiliand. The glare Astiand gave Neva was too strong that I wonder how it doesn’t burn her yet. There was a lot of tension between them, and I liked seeing the two of them taking care of each other when one got injured or sick. The way Neva was worried seeing Astiand doesn’t have enough sleep or the way Astiand was worried for Neva’s life, that was really sweet and so heartwarming. It took me awhile to warm up to the idea of them but I liked it and it actually made a lot of sense.
Some readers might think there was a love triangle in this book. Well, there wasn’t actually. Neva only have feelings for Astiand and he her, so I don’t see how she can have feelings for other guys especially Adam and Emiliand. She did however wonder what it was like to be with Emiliand but she never act on it. They are alliances and also friends, but I do get the feeling that he likes her except she doesn’t feel the same. As for Adam, he definitely have feelings for her but she only see him as a brother since he was like two years older than her. I didn’t see the element of a love triangle here, and I’m honestly isn’t a fan of the trope.
Another thing I want to add is that I find it funny how looking for a partner works in the Da’Voda clan. Usually, it was the male who claim the female to be their partner in most books but in this case it was a reverse. Here, the female send something like a light toward the male who they wanted to be their partner—be it romantic or just a partner in crime—and then it was up to the male if they accept it or not.
It was actually an awkward moment since the whole claiming partner thing are being done in public, and the rest of the clan members are obviously watching it. Imagine if the male rejected the light, it’s going to be so embarrassing for the female but since they are Da’Valian, I don’t think embarrassment is in their dictionary. I’m sure they would just brush it off as nothing and go to find the next male they want to be their partner. I just couldn’t believe that’s how it works in the Da’Voda clan.
Overall, the story was a great start to the whole Da’Valia trilogy. It was an introduction to this world, and it was already setting the tone higher for the next two books. I’m really excited and looking forward to read the next book and to find out Neva’s next journey. I still have so many questions after the ending but the answers will be in the next book. I can’t wait to see how everything will work out for our powerful protagonist next.
MY FAVORITE QUOTES
1. Trouble wore many guises.
2. It was said to be bad luck to ignore a visit from the dead.
3. She couldn’t imagine life away from her family, but she wouldn’t remain if her power could hurt them.
4. Leave your blood alone. One day, you may find they’re the only ones who will save you.
5. Flattery seemed like the best course of action, even if it wasn’t truthful.
6. There is no pleasure without pain.
7. Focus on pain as a method of control.
8. In her agony, she had become the pain, become the power.
9. She no longer needed to control the flame—she was the flame.
10. In a game with many skilled players, the unskilled suffer the worst.
11. Our knowledge of weaponry is a matter of pride.
12. Ambition was her obsession and eventually her downfall.
13. Aiming for nerves will get you answers, aiming to kill will speed things up, and forgetting to aim will get you dead.
14. Having the last word didn’t hurt.
15. Always be your opponent’s intentions.
16. We were created for battle. Each of us is a weapon, but what you are is special.
17. None of us will live forever.
18. Isn’t it better that we have someone to fight for?
19. My blood is tainted. I cannot stay where I am not accepted.
***FOLLOW THE TOUR HERE***
Christina Davis was raised in the Santa Cruz Mountains and is a California girl at heart. She spent much of her childhood in and out of hospitals and embraced reading as an escape. After being home-schooled through high school, she graduated summa cum laude from San Jose State University and attended NYU’s Summer Publishing Institute before embarking on a decade-long career in journalism. She enjoys chocolate, cosplay, coffee, and board games, but not necessarily in that order. She now lives in beautiful Monterey County with her husband and daughter.