Saving Zora by Katie Marie {Saving Zora; 1}

“As a lover of fantasy, I can’t help pointing out from the start that Katie’s world-building skills were put to great use in this book. “

Review by Renae Powers

Spy. Fighter. Zorian.
Can one girl and her comrades bring about the salvation of two kingdoms?

Tanner, the youngest spy on the magical island of Zora, receives orders from the Zorian king to gather information on Viggo, the King of the Outlands—England. However, her team’s espionage plans are violently disrupted by Gordon—a man sworn to kill all Zorians. His determination to avenge his daughter’s death knows no bounds as he rallies Outlanders to his cause and searches the seas for Zora.

Along with Marcel, a stablehand who hints to be more than he claims, and Lagon, leader of the Arander warriors who has a vengeance of his own, Tanner leads a stand against the evil encompassing the land. With armies descending upon the throne of England and a dangerous man sailing toward Zora, time has seemingly run out for Tanner and her friends.

Follow Tanner, Marcel, and their comrades as they journey across lands, charge into battles, uncover shocking news, and find new love in their quest to save England and Zora from the hands of evil in this epic, YA Christian fantasy novel.

Saving Zora is the first book in The Zora Duology. Each book are standalones but are recommended to be read in order.

Release Date: 6/15/2021

Genre: YA Fantasy

Pages: 350

I received this book for free from the author. All comments and opinions are entirely my own and this review is voluntary.

Raised in Zora, a secret, magical island off the west coast of England, Tanner loves her people and works for her king as a spy. The kingdom of Zora is haunted by a foe whose heart is filled with hatred, but who is thankfully bound to England, as he knows not where to find the island. Meanwhile, England has problems of its own with a cruel and greedy king, famine, and an equally evil foe who seeks to steal the throne for himself. It’s up to Tanner of her friends to not only save Zora, as the title suggests, but also to rescue England from the hands of bad rulers. Can they trust God to help them pull it off before one or more of these ominous men let the evil in their hearts reign supreme? Find out in Saving Zora by Katie Marie!

As a lover of fantasy, I can’t help pointing out from the start that Katie’s world-building skills were put to great use in this book. She managed to merge the real world with a fantasy world in a way that almost makes me believe Zora could be a real place! The way she designed Zora itself (and Arander) and how she hid it from outsiders made me think of Greek mythology. The subtle yet definable differences between Zorians and what they call “Outlanders” was believable as well. Overall, Katie very successfully walked the line between fiction and reality with her world-building and I loved being swept away to Zora!

This story has a vibrant cast of characters, ranging from adorable children to fierce young people to truly evil men. I have a habit of falling for villains, but Katie kept the line between good and evil very clear in her story, so it was easy to cheer for the good guys and against the bad ones. My only critique in terms of characters is that there were too many antagonists. Three bad guys in a single book, all off doing their own thing just felt like too much to keep up with. Lord Denis in particular seemed superfluous and did not really add to the story.

Otherwise, the other characters were super lovable and I’ve got a definite soft spot for Justin, Drake, Eryn, and the majestic Shadowsmaug (did I mention Katie made a really cool species of flying horse for this book?!)! Seeing their faith grow over the course of the book was an encouraging bonus, too. I was invested in them all getting a happy ending, and was definitely satisfied with how things turned out for them. There is a cute romance; however, I felt that it was rushed and lacked depth in the beginning. I would have liked to have seen more development and tension in that storyline before having the characters dive right into holding hands and thinking they’re in love.

I do have a slight rant regarding one plot point. The last battle and several deaths could have been completely avoided with one sentence. That one sentence does end the battle, but the character literally could have just said it WAY earlier and prevented the battle altogether. It would’ve resolved one of the antagonists being so hateful and could’ve given a happy ending to more characters. Instead, the character with the knowledge that would save thousands of lives just held it in for no apparent reason until they were on the verge of being killed for like the 15th time. 

Aside from that final point, I really did enjoy this story. Katie Marie’s debut novel was well-written and is great for those who love adventure fantasy, cool world-building, multiple POVs, and light/romance with sweet reminders of faith throughout! 

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Content Ratings:

Action & Gore:

Rating: 6 out of 10.
6. Strong action/gore (most action sequences describe blood loss and the injury to a clear picture, albeit brief and infrequent). 

Romance & Spice:

Rating: 1 out of 10.
1. Very mild content (feel-good vibes).

Cursing & Vulgarity:

Rating: 0 out of 10.
0. None.

Other Trigger Warnings:

Violence/Gore: 3 out of 5 (Several battle sequences and detailed sword fights and death. Not George R.R. Martin gory, but battle-heavy nevertheless. Also multiple mentions of child abuse.)

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