Friday, January 4, 2019

The Return of Innocence by Duane Simolke

Though born to a noble maternal lineage, Sasha Varov lives in exile on a dangerous island. Her family faces constant threats from deadly weather and deadlier dragons. That family sends sixteen-year-old Sasha back to their beloved kingdom of Jaan to buy seeds. She stumbles into adventures and becomes an accidental legend, known as “Innocence.”

A year later, Sasha leaves her father and her gay brother protecting the other exiles while she returns to Jaan. She begins her journey, unaware that an old enemy has gained arcane powers, or that the people of Jaan expect her to defeat that enemy. With the help of an outcast, a mutant, and an aging but heroic lesbian couple, Innocence might prevail.

(Synopsis from Goodreads).

My Thoughts:
 For 2018, one of my main goals was to read my backlog of review books. While I didn't manage to read all of them, I made a nice dent in my pile. The last one I read in 2018 was The Return of Innocence. I had owned this book for a while, and kept putting it off for some reason. I'm not sure why I did. After finally reading it, I really enjoyed the book.

I really loved the world that Duane Simolke created in The Return of Innocence. He weaved a setting that was complex and intricate, yet easy to understand and for the reader to immerse themselves into. The plot was action packed, although a bit predictable at times. I will admit, the predictability did take me out of the world at times. However, a few pages later, something would happen that would suck me right back into the story line. I especially loved the scene with Sasha being in the throne room with the king the first time. It cracked me up.

I also loved all of the characters in The Return of Innocence. There wasn't a single one that I disliked. Even Taylii, the main antagonist, had some qualities that I found to be entertaining. I loved Sasha. She was a fierce woman who took no crap from anyone and knew what she wanted. She wouldn't let anyone stop her, or get in her way. I think YA fantasy needs more heroines like her. I also loved all of the side characters. I almost wish the author would write more books about them, especially with the LGBTQ+ relationship that happens in the end. I would love a book about just those two characters.

Other than being a little predictable, I absolutely loved The Return of Innocence. I thought it was one of the better short YA fantasy books that I had read in a while. I will definitely be reading more of Duane Simolke's books. I can't wait to see what other type of fantasy worlds he creates. 

I give The Return of Innocence: 4/5.

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I received this book from the author in exchange for an honest review. I was in no way compensated for this review.


  1. It's great when the book you keep pushing back ends up being a great read.
    I'm glad you enjoyed it

    Ruth @Reading...Dreaming

    1. It's one of the best feelings, but then again, it kind of makes me want to kick myself for not reading it sooner. Thanks for taking the time to check out my review!