In this YA fantasy debut, a teenage girl has powers that could save or destroy her homeland as a centurieslong war reaches its climax.
In the land of Kinderra, in the province of Kin-Deren, 15-year-old Mirana Pinal is a magical Trine. Some of her people possess a single gift, called an Aspect, in Healing, Defending, or Seeing, but Mirana has all three powers. In two years, she’ll choose an amulet to focus her Aspects and aid the war against the Ken’nar, the ancient enemy of the Fal’kin people. Her father is Kaarl Pinal, Kinderra’s greatest warrior, and her mother is Desde, the governing prime in the capital. They don’t let on that they know that Mirana is a Trine, because public knowledge of that fact would pull the girl into war early. Ain Magne, a Dark Trine who leads the Ken’nar, aims to rule all of Kinderra. A prophecy from the Book of Kinderra describes a battle between Light and Dark Trines, and that “one of the Trines would come to destroy, the other to rebuild.” When Mirana has contradictory visions of soldiers and carnage at the Two Rivers Ford, she questions whether she’s the Light or Dark Trine of the prophecy. Can guidance from Trine Lord Tetric Garis make her future clearer?
Donnelly vigorously describes [her] his characters’ emotions and also explores the pitfalls of first love in this first book in a planned series. Mirana and 16-year-old Teague Beltran are fiercely loyal to each other; the boy, however, is has no powers, which the adults say dooms their romance. The fact that Mirana was born two months prematurely and is physically small adds complexity to her story of trading childhood for war. Donnelly clearly describes each Aspect as having numerous properties, for good or ill, as Ain Magne demonstrates by stripping his soldiers’ wills, creating battle-slaves who’ll fight until thoroughly butchered. Donnelly’s scenes of gore aren’t excessive, but when they appear, they’re effective. More impressive is the well-calibrated tension in the run-up to a single battle that begins in the minds of psychic characters long before the first sword falls. The finale promises a grand, devastating sequel.
Good characterization and well-described superpowers strengthen this series opener. (maps, glossary)
Plot: Donnelly's YA novel is set in a strikingly well-conceived fantasy world. Gifted — or cursed — with a trifecta of powers, Mirana Pinal is one of a select few tasked with an enormous moral responsibility. Readers will become fully immersed in Mirana's narrative as she struggles to come to terms with her potential for restoration or destruction.
Prose: Donnelly excels at crafting a seamless narrative that conveys the unique parameters of the universe at-hand through dialogue, character introspection, and balanced exposition. Descriptions are lyrical, vivid, and nicely polished.
Originality: Stories of exceptional teens are frequent, but Donnelly's convincing worldbuilding elevates the somewhat conventional underpinnings of the premise.
Character/Execution: Mirana's behavior, thought processes, and motivations are clear and authentic. Villainous characters and allies are portrayed with nuance and dimension, while the world of Kinderra emerges as an engrossing character in its own right.
Credit: The BookLife Prize
This first installment in the Kinderra Saga brings with it all of the essentials for an engaging read. With well-established characters, and artful plot development and pacing, Donnelly will have you hooked, and needing the sequel. Lately, I’ve been craving a new fantasy world to escape to, and Trine Rising provided exactly what I needed. With unique worldbuilding, a well-paced plot, an phenomenal character and conflict development, this read truly exceeded my expectations and left me wanting more.
This book discusses themes of power, morality, and prophecy through the protagonist, Mirana Pinal. As Mirana approaches her sixteenth summer, she is faced with destructive secrets. In a world where people are gifted with powers of sight, strength, and healing by the Aspects, Mirana finds she is one of the few who possesses powers from all three. She is a Trine. However, there is a prophecy suggesting that one Trine who is destined to save Kinderra, one is meant to be its destruction. With three known Trines, where lies Mirana’s fate. When Mirana receives terrifying visions predicting a devastating battle to come, she must reveal her secrets in order to give her people, especially the man she loves, a fighting chance. Will she be Kinderra’s saving grace? Or will she be responsible for its demise? Donnelly invites you to discover the answers for yourself.
From a structural standpoint, this novel perfectly achieves its purpose. Within the introductory chapters of the novel, readers are presented with many layers of conflict. We learn of Mirana’s Trine identity, and begin questioning whether or not she is gifted with a blessing or a curse. We learn that her love interest, a healer named Teague, is unaspected, and their relationship is doomed. If that wasn’t enough to peak a reader’s interest, we also learn there is a malicious Trine among the enemy Ken’nar forces. As a result, readers are forced early on to draw three very important conclusions: We’re faced with an epic battle of good and evil, Mirana’s relationship and future are on the line, and a bloody battle is on the horizon. Pair those things with an effective use of foreshadowing in visions and the prophecy, and you have readers turning pages needing answers.
Likewise, Donnelly provides readers with a well-developed fantasy world in Kinderra. I felt the balance of exposition, character development, and conflict fit what was needed for a first installment in the series. The world maps were helpful in creating a frame of reference, and providing context for readers as it became necessary was an effective way of developing this story. It's easy for authors to give too much exposition in books, and it results in a slow start for readers. This book does a great job avoiding that tendency. By introducing readers to the characters and the conflict first, this book hooked the audience, and then allowing them to fall in love with the nuances of the world the characters live in. As the plot progresses in the novel and the conflict builds, I found myself entirely invested in the fate of the characters.
This novel isn’t a "resolve all" kind of read, and as much as I need the answers, I love books that make me wait for them. As the novel peaks, Mirana is forced to face her true identity, but readers are left with more questions to be answered, another battle lurking on the horizon, and more secrets to discover. With Mirana’s Trine ancestor, Jasal Pinal playing a larger role than previously anticipated, readers learn that this journey is only getting started for Mirana, Teague, and the characters in the story. Where will this journey lead? We’ll have to find out in the next installment: Trine Fallacy.
Overall, Trine Rising was a phenomenal first installment in a new fantasy series. With engaging characters, a riveting plot, and well-executed structure, C.K. Donnelly provides a refreshing and engaging read for fantasy lovers.
— Kayla Riportella for Reedsy Discovery.com
A truly immersive fantasy! It’s not my go-to genre, but I have the wonderful opportunity to do a Q&A with the author for her book launch next week, so I devoured it over the past week. The world-building (even language creating!) is so thorough and impressive, and I loved the nuances of each character, especially (and surprisingly!) the villain. As I was reading it, it felt so cinematic to me. This could easily be a movie series as well as a book trilogy.
— Leah LeMoine, Managing Editor, PHOENIX MAGAZINE
C.K. Donnelly’s TRINE RISING is the first book in a promised series, and does a fine job of introducing readers to its world and characters without too much tedious explication. We are given the information we need naturally, as characters interact and speak and, most of all, worry, but it feels as natural and comprehensible as the Kinderran words sprinkled through the dialogue, most of which can be understood by connotation and cognates without reference to the handy glossary in the back. It’s an interesting world, too, with its own defined culture, religion, and norms, well thought-out and well-described, and worth exploring.
Mirana is a standard archetype, the teenage Chosen One, but her character is approached in a different way – instead of a heroic destiny, the signs in her own visions and in the prophecy point to the possibility that she just might become the villain, making her fears plausible despite her obvious good heart. And the character who is set up as the villain has a clear and in some ways persuasive argument for being the hero of his own story, whose only goal is to bring peace and comfort and spare innocent human lives the horror of war. It’s a nice touch, and it makes the story more complex and interesting. Mirana’s Unaspected sweetheart, Teague, is a good match for her, warm and caring, and her parents, the province’s Prime Desde and Kaarl, the leader of its Defenders, are truly loving and supportive and cherish each other, their daughter, and their duty to their province over all – which makes certain revelations and plot twists in the book even more heartrendingly powerful.
And the Trine Tetric Garis, who takes over Mirana’s training, is clearly a deeper and more complicated personality than he reveals on the surface – it’ll be interesting to watch his character develop as the series continues. The plot takes a bit of time to get started, and quite a lot of quiet angst on Mirana’s part, but once it does, the action is swift and fierce, and the characters and readers are both mercilessly swept up in it.
There is enough resolution at the end to leave the reader feeling as if something has been accomplished, but enough left hanging to make you eager for the sequel. All in all, this is an excellent start to a series, and promises well for the rest of it.
TRINE RISING is an intense and emotionally-engaging beginning to a promising new fantasy series, set in a well-crafted new world with believable and thoroughly human characters.
— Catherine Langrehr for IndieReader
The first installment of Donnelly’s coming-of-age fantasy series that blends introspective self-discovery with high-stakes adventure. In the land of Kinderra, people are born either Aspected—having the power of clairvoyance, healing, or defending, or Unaspected. Young Mirana Pinal is born with all three powers, making her a Trine. After seeing a disturbing vision wherein she destroys Kinderra, Mirana confides her secret only to her boyfriend, the Unaspected Teague Beltran. She soon learns that she is part of prophecy foretelling the destruction of her homeland at the hands of a new Trine. The other Trines are the peaceable sage Tetric Garis and the Ain Magne, a warmonger bent on subjugating the citizens of Kinderra. When the threat of an attack from the Dark Trine forces Mirana to reveal her visions, Tetric Garis takes her under his wing to train her. Can Mirana thwart her own destiny and save the kingdom from herself?
Donnelly has set her story in a classic medieval Europe-flavored fantasy world, complete with armies on horses, ancient prophecies, and an extensive dramatis personae. Although the author makes some moves to differentiate her work from other stories in the genre—for instance, by substituting common English terms with Kinderrian ones—some readers may find the net result is more distracting than illustrative.
But Mirana is a sympathetic heroine, her struggle to find her place in the world will be relatable to young readers, and her romance with Teague captures the tensions and thrills of teenage love. Polished prose, strong characterization, and the author’s keen eye for atmospheric detail keep this coming-of-age story engrossing.
Takeaway: Young adult readers will be swept up in a gripping fantasy adventure with a main character they can root for.
Great for fans of: Victoria Aveyard’s Red Queen series and Tomi Adeyemi’s Children of Blood and Bone.
Design and typography: A
Marketing copy: C
Wow, TRINE RISING was full of twists and turns that I was not expecting. Mirana is a very unique character. While you think she is your archetypal young adult fiction heroine, she is just the opposite. She is not someone who thinks she isn’t special. She knows she is special and knows for a fact that she can be dangerous to people. The best thing she thought she could do for her people was to suppress her powers and never allow them to surface. She is a smart girl, so she knows how to play things to her advantage.
Author C.K. Donnelly did a great job of building Mirana’s development. Mirana is no wallflower, but she grows and learns to be more comfortable in her skin as the story progresses. The mystery behind the Dark Trine and the Ken’nar attack was introduced strategically to have maximum impact on readers. I could tell that the author planned out this whole story to make it believable, entertaining, and nail-bitingly good.
— Rabia Tanveer for Readers' Favorite
Donnelly’s intriguing, deeply engrossing debut fantasy gets her “The Kinderra Saga” YA fantasy series off to an impressive start. Sixteen-summer-old Mirana Pinal is one of the few in Kinderra to have ever possessed all three magical powers of the Aspects, and unfortunately one of two trines at whose hands the whole of the Kinderra will be destroyed and rebuilt. An alarming premonition of an enemy attack forces Mirana to reveal her destiny to the people of Kinderra and pick between using her powers and leaving them intact. Donnelly devotes as much time to characterization as she provides to plot development, making the tale both thrilling and deep. She takes her time with Mirana’s pressing inner conflicts, providing depth and substance to the protagonist’s coming-of-age story. The chilling action sequences involving the ruthless warlord notch up the tension and suspense, and the fascinating premise and complex worldbuilding will keep readers hooked. This is a winner.
— The Prairies Review
Part of what I love about fantasy is the ability to explore new worlds without ever leaving my house. In the case of Trine Rising by C.K. Donnelly, I was absolutely enthralled by the world that was created; it was vivid, well-crafted and featured a conlang that had me eagerly working out its pieces.
This book is something between a coming-of-age piece and an epic fantasy. I suppose it would be YA fantasy, but it felt deeper than a lot of YA that I’ve read recently. The basic premise is that there is a prophecy stating that two trines, or people who controlled all three magical Aspects rather than just one, would appear: a dark and light trine. The whole of Kinderra would then be at their mercy, destroyed and then rebuilt. The only problem is, Mirana is a trine and her visions have told her that such a thing does not necessarily bode well.
This book had two particular styles of plot advancement that I liked quite well. The first is the action, the events that require Mirana to make a decision. They are increasingly pressing, and tie up a good deal of the characters, as well as force the second mode of plot advancement: the character development. The characters must make decisions, move forwards with their lives, and face the consequences of previous actions before things get worse or things will, ah, get…worse. Much worse. I liked the intertwining of the plot-based and character-based writing styles and think it works exceptionally well.
Mirana is not your typical YA hero. For one, she seems to act on her dislike of her powers in a rational manner. Instead of just rejecting her place in the world out of hand, as I have seen in many YA pieces, she has a reason for doing precisely that. She is perhaps more rational than you would expect, but she also has emotions driving her to move. These two pieces are at war, which makes for a very interesting piece of conflict. I especially like the scene in the library, as well as the climactic piece towards the end, where her decision is made.
I cannot really say a whole lot about my favourite bit, because spoilers, but I can say that the ending, where Mirana’s mentor is musing on things…and the fantastic plot twist that reveals…cue sharp intake of breath as I gasped in surprise. Stunning.
Oddly, as I love linguistics, the main critique I have has to do with the naming conventions. Not in any structural way, or for any dislike of the conlang (actually, I loved it), but the way that they were interspersed throughout the novel. This mostly is to do with who people are and where they are from. These things are quite intricate, which makes sense because there is a great deal of political machinations behind the dramatic plot. I haven’t got a problem with that. But I would have loved just a touch more explanation of where these people were from—describe the setting of their homeland or province—so I wouldn’t have to flip back to the map every few pages. With an ebook that was difficult to do. It honestly isn’t a huge thing at all, just enough directions and places that my directionally/geographically challenged brain had a hard time keeping up, especially since I was trying to dissect the names as they were constructed.
Overall, I would say that Trine Rising is a fantastic first book in a series. It has a fun plot, great characters, a plot twist that had me smiling, and a conlang phrase at the top of the chapters, which was pretty great. If you are looking for a book into which you can immerse yourself, this is the one for you. A very good book!
— E.G. Stone, Quill & Pen Society
TRINE RISING, a treat for fans of all fantasy genres, relays the struggles of a teenage girl through the eyes of Mirana Pinal. An endearing young girl responsible for harnessing her magical powers to prevent death and destruction to those she loves. C.K. Donnelly’s first book in The Kinderra Saga, creates a culture, language and characterization comparable to J.R.R. Tolkien, suspense equal to Agatha Christie and cliffhangers like those of Dan Brown. This book is part of a refreshing new series that all readers of fantasy, mystery and suspense will love.
— Darlene Ziebell, Author & Business Strategist
C.K. Donnelly has given us an exciting, fast-paced fantasy set in the land of Kinderra on the brink of war. This brilliantly written story weaves Mirana Pinal’s journey into womanhood with her stubborn determination to protect the people she loves most from death and destruction—two things she fears she herself will bring upon her own people. Donnelly's world-building and description are so vivid I could literally taste Mirana’s fear on my tongue and sense the power of the Aspects jarring my bones. I even found myself defending the villain almost as much as I despised him. Overall, a great start to a saga filled with darkness and doom and the possibility of deliverance slips into the shadows.
— Lisa M. Streit, Author, AZ
Mirana is the kind of character I always dreamed I would read about when I was a teen and young adult, and now, too! I love her spirit and determination, and how strong she is and the journey she is on. I can’t wait to read Book 2 and continue on in her world! The descriptions are so vivid to visualize I really feel her world is real and it's fun to get lost in it!
— Jenny Givner, Acapella Book Cover Design, Los Angeles, CA