I received a review copy for free, and I am leaving this review voluntarily.
This is the first in The Awakener series and Groves manages to describe the world in such a vivid way that you can easily imagine everything as if you were really there. The characters are well crafted and complement each other, with a wide variety of fictional races and different personalities making this a very interesting read. I particularly fell in love with the idea of races based on different animals and would love to learn more about the history of them. To the North introduces a brand new fantastical world in an urban setting, though personally, I think you can easily go a chapter or two forgetting how modern it is supposed to be until something modern is mentioned as a lot of it would fit into an older setting too. That’s not a negative, it serves as a good juxtaposition between the more magical aspect of the world and the non-magical aspect of the world, as you have one character using magic to get around, while the non-magic user has to use a taxi.
I struggled to get into this book straight away as it’s a very slow burn at the beginning, but it definitely grips you more the further into it you get. Just as I was approaching the halfway mark was the point where I couldn’t put the book down and just kept on reading. There were a couple of plot points that were obvious to the reading when I think they weren’t supposed to be, but there’s plenty of mystery and intrigue to keep you wanting more. On that note, the book does end on a cliffhanger — I don’t mind cliffhangers in general, but it would have been nice to have a couple more things wrapped up by the end to give a better sense of closure.
I definitely would read the next in the series, but I gave it a 3.5 instead of a 4 because of how long it took me to get into the book.