Have you ever been haunted by a less-than-stellar moment in your past? Have you ever been given a responsibility you knew you were not qualified to carry out? So have Keevan and Addie, the main characters of Tricia Mingerink’s novella, Destroy.
Prince Keevan, second son of the King of Acktar (in the days before it was taken over by a tyrant) is quite the ladies man, with handsome looks and a smooth-talking voice. He takes these gifts for granted and they get him into trouble. One day, his handsome looks and smooth voice are stolen from him when he nearly dies from a knife wound in an attack on the castle. As he lays dying from the wound, a servant girl saves his life and helps him to flee.
Addie is a scullery maid who comes from a long line of scullery maids. When the castle is besieged and she finds Prince Keevan gagging in his bed from a knife wound to the throat, she does not stop to think if she is qualified for the job, but immediately tries to save his life. Prince Keevan has no choice but to put his life in her hands over the next several months as they go into hiding from the evil Blades. As the prince recovers from his physical and emotional wounds, he has to face the terrifying truth that he is the rightful king and will one day have to take back his throne for the good of his people.
When I read the last book, Defy, and first met Prince Keevan, I was immediately dying to know his backstory, so I was ecstatic when I found out that his was the next story to be told. As usual, Tricia did a wonderful job of making me love her characters, Keevan and Addie. I appreciated the different personalities of both Keevan and Addie, and their chemistry together. Though Keevan’s past and his wounds make him a gruff and closed-off person at first, he protects a very tender heart. I loved seeing that come out. Addie is quirky, nervous, and talks to herself, especially when she is stressed out about something, which I love because I do that too. She also does not hesitate to go above and beyond the call of duty, regardless of how qualified she feels for the job. I felt for her as she faced each new situation and struggled over what to do next. I admired her as she did not let her lack of experience deter her from what needed to be done.
I loved the parallels between Keevan’s inner turmoil and Leith’s from the other books. Keevan struggles with insecurities about himself because of his poor choices in the past, his father’s failures as a king, and the scars he bears from the attack that killed his family. Re-reading the scenes between Keevan and Leith from a new perspective made me ache all over again for different reasons. I love it when I can sympathize with both characters' plights in a conflict!
My only complaint is that it was a novella, which I knew. While the author did a fantastic job in telling so much in such a short amount of time, I really wish it had been a full-length novel. I wanted more time to experience certain aspects of the plot and the characters (which is really a testament to how much I loved them!). For instance, Keevan’s “former self”. When we first meet him, he immediately regrets his mistakes and vows to be a better person. Which is great, but I felt that I would have more appreciation for his struggle to be different if I had seen just a little bit more of who he was beforehand. I realize this would have been tricky business, given the audience and the nature of his former self, so it is easily forgivable. I also really, really loved the relationship between Keevan and Addie. I loved the way they supported each other and looked out for each other. However, I wanted to see more of the development of their relationship. There was enough that it was still believable, but I wanted to more interactions as they got to know each other, and experience more milestones as their forced acquaintance turned into friendship and then into something else. Such is the struggle with novellas: having to tell so much in so short a time. It is like having ONE fantastic cookie and really wanting a second so you can fully appreciate the taste.
If you love the Blades of Acktar books and want to know more about Prince Keevan and how he escaped the attempt on his life, you will very much enjoy reading this book. You will enjoy falling in love with these new characters and experiencing your favorite characters through new eyes. For my part, reading this book made me want to go back and re-read Defy. If you have not read the other books, stop what you are doing right now and return when you have finished all three. Shame on you for reading spoilers. I loved the characters, I loved the backstory, and I loved the writing. I look forward to seeing more of Keevan and Addie in Book 4 alongside Leith and Renna.