A review by betweentheshelves
Dauntless by Elisa A. Bonnin

adventurous tense medium-paced
  • Plot- or character-driven? A mix
  • Strong character development? Yes
  • Loveable characters? Yes
  • Diverse cast of characters? Yes
  • Flaws of characters a main focus? It's complicated


Seri is a newly made assistant to commander Eshai Unbroken, whose reputation for killing beasts is unparalleled. In their world, beasts roam the forests and it is up to the valiants to kill them, use their skin as armor, and discover new settlements. As Eshai’s assistant, Seri sees first hand how much destruction the beasts can cause. And even kills one herself.

Seri thought the divide between people and beasts would always be there. Separated by violence. But when she meets Tsana, Seri realizes things could be different. After all, Tsana can communicate with the beasts. And maybe there doesn’t have to be violence after all. If they can get everyone else to understand.

Thanks to NetGalley and Swoon Reads for an advanced copy of Dauntless to review! I’m always on the lookout for a good new fantasy. Especially when it’s a debut author! This reminded a lot of Beasts of Prey, though it is one of those rare YA fantasy standalones.

What I liked about this book from the beginning is the way the world is described. Yes, you’re dropped right in the middle of the action, but for the most part, I didn’t feel confused. Bonnin does a good job making sure you’re up to speed on the intricacies of this world, unfolding details exactly when you need them. This isn’t always an easy thing to do, so I was impressed!

While I did enjoy the world building, after the initial scene at the beginning, the plot does take a bit to really get going. However, when it does, you’ll find that this book is difficult to put down! If you like your fantasy with a lot of action, you’ll find that in the second half of the book.

The only other thing that put me off is that there are technically three points of view, but they didn’t necessarily feel different enough from each other. I wanted something that better signaled when I was with a specific character. For the most part, all of their voices really blended together.

Despite the pacing and the voices, the rest of the story and the characters were interesting enough that I would definitely read another book by Bonnin. Can’t wait to see what she comes up with next!
A solid fantasy debut that I think a lot of teens will love! Stay tuned for a full review to come soon.

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