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ARC Review: Time's Orphan by Hayley Reese Chow

Release date: 8 February 2023

Rating: 5/5

Synopsis: Speak of pain, and I’ll tell you of the Time who stole it away…

Besieged by war, ravaged by monsters, and crawling with the undead, the land of Okarria is dying. Seventeen-year-old Emara survives by using her modest healing gift to save as many as she can while eluding the invaders who thirst for her enchanted blood.

So when a cursed cat saves her life and reveals Emara is the legendary Time Heir the necromancer king’s been searching for, she agrees to act as bait in a plot to destroy him. But when the plan goes horrifically awry, Emara must discover how deep her powers go, what she can change…

And what she cannot.

Unfortunately, Time Heirs have a history of getting killed, and with Okarria’s future on the line, Emara may have no choice but to follow in her ancestors’ footsteps. 



I’ve had such difficulty articulating anything intelligible for this review. How do I commend this book to readers without sounding unprofessional or like I’m selling a new “sensation” that isn’t really all it’s cracked up to be? All I can do is endeavor to try.

Chow’s writing is extraordinary. The world building amazed me. Things in the first book tied into the last. Easter eggs everywhere. Unexpected, shocking things and subtle details made my jaw drop. Reading the Odriel’s Heirs series gave me that reading high bookish folk talk about when they discover a new page turner that so immerses them in another world that they forget time even exists.

The last time I started a new (at least to me) fantasy series that impressed me so much was when I read Sabriel by Garth Nix. The world building, characters, and dialogue were entirely immersive and the people and story stuck with me, even to this day. I alternated between trying to fly through it quickly and not wanting to read it at all so it wouldn’t end. Now I have binged the entire series, including the shorts, and I wish I could forget them all and reread them again.

Odriel’s Heirs is a series of three books and two short novellas. Each installment and sequel novella follows a different “heir” or person designated to represent Odriel, the sky deity of the world in a battle against a dark god who wishes to stamp out life and plunge the world into darkness. The first, Odriel’s Heirs, follows the Dragon Heir. The second, Idriel’s Children, follows the Shadow Heir. The last, Time’s Orphan, follows the Time Heir.

Each book spans one generation to the next, though they can all be read as standalones, the second and third books in the series reveal the endings for previous characters’ arcs, so I would recommend reading them in order if possible.

Chow’s strengths lie in world building and character development. Though not overly complex, the world is well fleshed out and immersive, revealing itself gradually yet with complexity and sans the monotonous info dump found in many fantasy novels. It is an epic fantasy, and our characters must complete quests of sorts in order to fight the gathering dark of the undead. Do not let the quest description fool you, these books are not linear progressions that bore and cause spontaneous napping. They are gritty, full of action, and quelling with heartbreak (yeah, thanks for that, Chow). The characters latch onto your heart and do not let go—even when they must. The banter is intelligent, witty, and full of snark and sarcasm. Even characters that appear for only a few pages leave lasting impressions.

To reiterate, I cannot begin to say with enough words how much I thoroughly loved this book. This whole series, in fact. I can count the number of times on one hand where I have picked up a fantasy and felt so immersed in world-building, characters, and plot that I lost myself while reading and felt lost when it was over. I immediately regretted finishing this series. Now I know what happens and cannot ever read it anew again.

My sincerest thanks to the author, Hayley Reese Chow, for the eARC. These opinion are my own and willingly (and heartily) given. If you’re interested, Chow has a new release coming out in April this year from Whimsical Publishing titled Into the Churn. You can preorder the print copy here directly from the publisher (beautiful Micheline Ryckman, oh how I adore her). Time's Orphan is now available to preorder on Kindle; I am certain the print editions will be listed soon as well.

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