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Lark Rising: Guardians of Tarnec #1    by Sandra Waugh Amazon.com order for
Lark Rising
by Sandra Waugh
Order:  USA  Can
Random House, 2014 (2014)
Hardcover, e-Book
*   Reviewed by Ricki Marking-Camuto

There is a lot of fantasy out there, both for the Young Adult and Adult markets. It takes something special to stand out from all the other offerings, and unfortunately, Sandra Waugh's debut, Lark Rising, the first in the Guardians of Tarnec series, just does not.

Lark Carew and her cousin Evie have grown up together ever since their parents were lost the last time their village was attacked. For a while, though, there has been peace, but when the signs start, everything changes. After a villager is killed, signifying that the Troths are back, Lark knows the signs are pointing at her to be the one to ask the mysterious Riders for their help.

While traveling, Lark, a Seer herself, encounters another Seer who makes outrageous claims. Not knowing what to believe, Lark continues on her quest, venturing off the designated path, only to be captured by the Riders she seeks. Once inside their walls, she is welcomed, especially when it becomes known that she is one of the four Guardians of Tarnec.

It seems that aside from being a Seer, Lark has a connection with Earth, and her first task as the Earth Guardian is to return the elemental orb that the Breeders a dark race that controls the Troths stole. The Rider who awakened her Guardian power, the surly Gharain, and a few other Riders are sent to help her. Lark is wary, though, as she finds herself falling for Gharain even though her visions have told her that he is meant for Evie and that he will kill her. But if anyone is to be saved, these two must work together.

Lark Rising had so much in it that I love in fantasy elemental arts, ancient prophesies, fantastic creatures, a map but the slow pacing and stilted romance overshadowed all that was good. On top of that, the characters were flat. While there was nothing to dislike about Lark, there really was not anything to like either; the same could be said for Gharain. Epic fantasy needs readers' total buy-in to transport them into a fantasy world, and that just did not happen here.

While the fantasy elements were good in Lark Rising, there was not much else to recommend it. As this is Sandra Waugh's debut, it is certainly possible that the stories will get faster with more well-rounded characters as the Guardians of Tarnec quartet continues.

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