“Fortified is a fantasy novel that takes inspiration from Bible stories (although not a retelling), filled with action and romance, and is the first in a series.”
Review by Erin Phillips
Devora’s perfect future shatters. Instead of attending Vlacklear Academy, she is sent to the Fortress-a prison holding murderers and thieves that make up the soldiers in His Majesty’s Army. She fears it is the end of her.
Suppressing her forbidden Seeing abilities, Devora is thrust into the role of soldier, and must learn to defend herself while avoiding Warden Hazor and his ruthless right-hand man, Captain Blake.
When Devora’s Seeing abilities are exposed, she’s thrown into a tournament to win her right to live. She must turn to Captain Blake for help or be slaughtered like all the other Seers before her.
Release Date: 2/7/2023
Genre: YA Fantasy
Fortified is a fantasy novel that takes inspiration from Bible stories (although not a retelling), filled with action and romance, and is the first in a series. The story follows Devora, the spoiled daughter of a noble family with a secret, who is ripped from a life as a scholar and forced into the kingdom’s prison, where soldiers are trained alongside criminals. Half-way through the story, Devora’s secret—her illegal supernatural ability as a Seer, receiving visions of the future—is discovered, and she is offered the chance to be pardoned if she survives a deadly tournament. With a war brewing outside the prison walls, winning the tournament may only be the beginning of Devora’s challenges. The main focus of this story is without a doubt its characters. While Devora is the protagonist, I found side characters like One Shot and Nadia, and Captain Blake to be much more compelling and surprising. They each had interesting backstories, complicated motivations, and made huge contributions to Devora’s growth from naive nobility into a hero. I would have loved even more time getting to know these characters on a deeper level, as what we experience with them sparks the imagination. The central romance between Captain Matthias Blake and Devora reminded me a lot of the dynamic between Four and Tris in Divergent, although Matthias and Devora didn’t ever really click with me. They seemed stronger as individuals, and the romance felt more grounded in their proximity than anything else. However, for those who really love the enemies to lovers trope, this may be a hit! The pacing is a little slow for my taste, spending quite a bit of time establishing life with Devora and the other girls in the prison—scenes of them getting dressed, getting to know each other, and talking boys, contrasting scenes where they are training for combat or doing chores. It takes nearly half the book for Devora’s ability to be discovered and forced into the tournament, when I was expecting (based off the back cover blurb) most of the story to be about the competition. There is a strong emphasis on faith in the story, and the phrase “refined by fire” is often used, although I felt that theme was more told than experienced. Devora is a fairly self-aware character, seeming to know the lessons she needs to learn and any small failings she has are overshadowed by her triumphs. For me, it felt easy to have faith when you always win, and I would have liked to see her lose a few times to test her. For me, Fortified’s strongest theme was one of friendship, as Devora learns to not make assumptions about others and to give everyone a chance—people sometimes surprise you! The twist with Matthias near the end was my favorite moment in the whole story, causing Devora to have to rethink resentment that was based on an assumption. While Fortified was not a home-run for me, it is has a lot of elements that many readers look for: enemies to lovers, clean romance, lots of action, girl talk, Biblical references, faith, and friendship.
Action & Gore:
4. Some action (mildly detailed battle sequences and/or fights).
Romance & Spice:
2. Mild content (holding hands and mild kissing).
Cursing & Vulgarity:
Other Trigger Warnings:
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