Sixteen-year-old Kiara Noir, living on a Colorado reservation, running a farmstand, and overachieving in homeschooling wants to explore the world and become a famous photographer.
Her wanderlust was getting the better of her. Only her mother won’t let her leave.
The family was a mystery. It was just Kiara and her mother, Willow, transplanted to the reservation.
Kiara assumed they were witches. The cloaked ceremonies’, the bloodletting and chanting, the miracle potions her mother made, and the half-birthdays to celebrate death, all pointed to witchery in Kiara’s eyes until a visitor arrived on her half-birthday.
An Aunt who was not entirely human.
The wish to leave is suddenly forced as Kiara and her mother travel back to the homeland, an enchanted kingdom of Willow's childhood, to find the truth about who she really is.
Kiara struggles to learn a culture and customers foreign to her costing her freedom and having to choose between a simple life back home that she never wanted, or sacrificing everything, including death, for the greater good. -Booklife
Reader Review “Born Torn” by Suz Eglington 07/19/2023
Independently Published (2023)
Reviewed by Tammy Ruggles for Reader Views (07/2023)
“Born Torn: Kiara Noir Mother Nature Series” by Suz Eglington is a compelling, fresh take on the YA Fantasy genre. The intriguing storyline with magical realism will hook you right away. The main character Kiara is sixteen and feels trapped in the Colorado reservation. She feels that only her goals and dreams of travel and photography will set her free.
This character-driven novel is a bit deceptive. It's easy style and boundless energy at first come across as a breezy read, but there are underlying currents of serious coming-of-age themes, dark subject matter, and mature revelations that speak to deep philosophical themes.
Kiara isn’t sure who she really is. Who is her family besides her mother? Who is her father? Up till now, she’s lived a simple life with her mother, growing and selling vegetables. Her mother has taught her about rituals, but Kiara finds herself wanting no part of it, including her upcoming half-birthday ceremony that celebrates blood and death. She broaches the subject of independence, goals, and dreams, and college with her mother, but her mother thinks online classes are the way to go. Virtual college isn’t what Kiara has in mind. She wants to attend a real campus and be a part of the wider world. Things begin to look up for Kiara until her aunt comes with some shocking news about their non-human origins. This leads Kiara on a journey to discover her true identity and purpose. She realizes she has a choice to make. She can live peacefully on the reservation or give up everything for a purpose that transcends death and preserves nature, living things, and life itself.
This well-paced novel is propelled by a rich plot that is well-executed. As you read, you get the feeling that Eglington thoroughly enjoys building interesting worlds, creating original characters, and conveying exciting ideas. Seemingly a natural-born storyteller, she knows how to draw a reader in and keep them invested all the way through the story. The details, character arcs, and plot points make for a cinematic reading experience.
Kiara is a character you want to get to know, and the author provides a solidly fleshed-out teenager–nothing cookie-cutter going on with her. I especially like the scenes that show what her character and personality are like, while at the same time showing the environment she comes from and wants to avoid. For example, when she goes to the meadow, her safe space on the reservation where she can gather her thoughts, be herself, and capture nature in photos. But something unusual happens in the meadow and woods while she’s there, and an urgent text from her mother tells her to get home immediately. She reacts the way a typical teenager would, but she’s in a world that is both mysterious and irresistible at the same time.
This YA story has a lot to offer; a good story, well-developed characters, attention to detail, some mystery and suspense, natural dialogue, and unique phrasing in places that make the author’s style seem fresh and new.
For sheer entertainment, “Born Torn: Kiara Noir Mother Nature Series” by Suz Eglington, is one you don’t want to miss.
Teenager Kiara Noir wants three things: go to college, be independent, and learn the secrets of her family. She’s feeling constrained on the quaint Colorado reservation, struggling with the seclusion and her over-protective and secretive mother Willow’s strict rules. But decades of secrets will soon spill over when a blast from Willow’s past barrels into their lives, forcing mother and daughter out of their safe haven and back to the one place Willow vowed never to return: her homeland, where the first soul they encounter is a talking crawdad over ten feet tall. Now, Kiara is finally able to get answers, but she learns the truth might just be a painful reminder that some secrets are best left buried.
In this assured series starter, Eglington (author of the Pike Evans series) delivers imaginative fantastical world building with unique characterizations sure to delight fantasy lovers of all ages. Willow’s homeland is a vast underground kingdom that rests in a delicate symbiotic relationship with humans on the topside. Preserving nature plays a pivotal role in the balance and survival of the worlds, as Kiara discovers she is in a position of great power, with the fate of the land resting on her young shoulders. Heartbreak and sorrow, valiant action sequences, and a vast array of character-developing trials and tribulations await Kiara on her epic adventure. With each step forward or stumble backwards, she proves to be a courageous young woman readers will instantly connect with.
Eglington’s languid prose invites readers to marinate in the rich settings, original cultures, and ongoing tension, though the final act progresses at a quicker pace, hurrying to tie up loose ends. Even so, Eglington expertly drops enough delicious morsels to excite readers for future books. Fantasy fans seeking a well-crafted world with plentiful suspense and a memorable, relatable protagonist will find this gripping tale enticing.
Takeaway: Gripping epic fantasy adventure puts a reservation teen’s courage to the test.
Comparable Titles: Namina Forna’s The Gilded Ones, Melissa Albert’s The Hazel Wood.
Design and typography: A
Marketing copy: A-
Reviewed by Rabia Tanveer for Readers' Favorite
Born Torn: Kiara Noir Mother Nature Series by Suz Eglington begins the story of Kiara as she uncovers secrets that change her life forever. Kiara knew no one from her extended family.
Growing up on a Colorado reservation with her mother, she wasn't fond of the circumstance or her mother's crazy ideas. All she wanted for her birthday this year was to join a college away from her home, travel, and become a famous photographer.
However, all those plans are shattered when a woman claiming to be her Aunt Jade arrives and reveals secrets hidden from Kiara all her life.
Before she knew it, Kiara was also questioning everything about herself, her mother, and their existence. It was time for Kiara and her mother to return to where they came from to protect everyone else, even if it meant Kiara would suffer the most.
Tense, intense, and packed with many emotions, Born Torn was the perfect story to keep me company.
I finished this book in a single sitting and restarted it immediately. I don't remember when that happened last time. I was fully immersed in Born Torn.
Kiara's predicament was fascinating.
She was torn between chasing her dreams and doing the right thing.
Aunt Jade was the catalyst, but Kiara always knew she and her mother, Willow, were different from others.
Traveling to a new enchanted place where she was still a stranger brought emotions she wasn't familiar with. The tussle between mother and daughter was fun and very endearing.
Willow and Kiara butted heads often but loved each other so much. The story's setting was beautiful, even when author Suz Eglington described monsters.
This novel was a pleasure to read, and I can't wait for the sequel.
Born Torn: Kiara Noir Mother Nature Series
by Suz Eglington
book review by Michael Radon The US Review of Books
"If I fudged this up, then there would be severe consequences. It was absolute power. I was the monopoly."
Kiara Noir is turning sixteen-and-a-half years old soon, and her wanderlust is getting the better of her. Kiara and her mother are transplants living on a Native American reservation in Colorado, far away from most other people. Independent and strong-willed, Kiara routinely butts heads with her mother about wanting to see the world and go to college while her mother, Willow, insists that they must stay where they are. Kiara is filled with questions about her father, their life, and her mother’s folksy knowledge of herbs and rituals, adding to Kiara’s frustrations. On the exact day between her previous and next birthday, Kiara is given permission to go out into the wild and take pictures with her new camera lens. Suddenly, her reality comes crashing down around her.
Mysterious icy creatures and a woman claiming to be Kiara’s Aunt Jade appear and throw mother and daughter’s peaceful lives into turmoil. Forced to leave their home and travel to a mysterious enchanted kingdom to assure their safety, Kiara and Willow return to the secret lands of Willow’s childhood. Here, Kiara is forced to reckon with a culture and customs completely foreign to her, alongside dangerous creatures and relatives that want her gone. However, this castle and these lands hold the secrets to her heritage, the strange powers that are unlocking within her, and even the identity of her father. Torn between two worlds, Kiara must ultimately make a decision that will decide her fate, and perhaps the fate of many others. Will she return to her old life and leave behind a past she never wanted, or will she learn her place among the ruling class of a world she never knew existed?
Kiara has the makings of the next young adult fiction megastar. Her snarky comments, paired with a caring and considerate heart, make her a compassionate, if reluctant, hero. Meanwhile, her growing aptitude for magic gives her the ability to take charge of incredible action scenes. Readers will spend much of this introductory book empathizing with Kiara’s fish-out-of-water situation, as her mother is forced to withhold vital information for her safety even as everyone around her expects certain behaviors or responses. A constant sense of danger keeps readers from becoming complacent as threats are constantly cropping up for Kiara to deal with. In time, her arsenal of abilities grows, making every successive crisis more dynamic than the last. Every character has the potential to become either an ally or enemy, and only as the story unfolds can both Kiara and the reader make those decisions for themselves.
The setting blends a kind of anachronistic medieval fantasy with elements of magical realism and ecological activism in a way that gives this story cross-genre appeal. Scenes of horror, drama, action, and romance give each chapter multifaceted development and aim to please readers regardless of their literary preferences. Younger readers may be affected by scenes of violence or horrific monsters, but teenagers and older readers will appreciate the intensity that the story often delves into. The journey is difficult and full of unfair heartbreak that leaves the audience craving a resolution and a happy ending for Kiara, but with more books to come in this new series, this origin story will leave readers hungry to discover what happens next.