Book Review for “Stand: The Hooded” by Francis Booker & Michael Ragusa

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*This book was sent to me for review purposes by the author(s). All opinions are my own.

I’m always excited when indie authors contact me about reviewing their book. Not only is it an honor that they want me to review their work, it gives me a chance to discover what may be a hidden gem. Of course, not all indie published books are good but I’ve been fortunate, so far, to only have very talented authors reach out to me. Francis Booker and his co-author, Michael Ragusa, are some of those talented authors. Booker reached out to me about reviewing their first book, Stand: The Hooded. This is book one of a trilogy and the only one released so far. Since this is the first book and a new release, I’m going to keep this review spoiler free. Let’s get into the synopsis and then I’ll share my thoughts.

Synopsis

The Kingdom of Regostia is protected by a powerful group known as the Hooded. Whether it’s reconnaissance, strategy, or combat, the Hooded have trained to be able to tackle every issue that the kingdom faces. But what they’re most known for is their use of morar, an energy that can be shaped to allow the Hooded to complete superhuman feats.

Living in the capital, Damon Red has always lived in his brother Ander’s shadow. Ander is an internationally known, twice decorated war hero and the strongest Hooded in the kingdom. Damon struggles to compete in minor league tournaments and can barely get the girl of his dreams to notice him. He wants nothing to do with the Hooded because he knows he can never live up to his brother.

But, when Ander tries to kill the king in the dead of night, the shadow Damon has lived in suddenly changes. He’s no longer the younger brother of the greatest man in the kingdom; he’s the brother of a traitor. And when no one can produce Ander’s motive, Damon must also come to terms with the fact that his brother was not the man he thought he was.

In order to restore his reputation, Damon sets out to join the Hooded. Along the way, he hopes to find out why Ander really did what he did. To become a powerful Hooded, he must make new friends, new enemies, and learn what it means to protect the things he cares about. When he finds the truth, will it turn his life on its head again?

My Thoughts

Stand is a fantastic mix of the Young Adult and fantasy genres with a touch of mystery thrown in. It primarily revolves around two brothers, Damon and Cyril Red. Damon and Cyril live in a kingdom where magic, called morar, can be wielded by anyone but only the truly talented and dedicated can wield morar to its fullest extent. The brothers want to be accepted by the Hooded, a powerful group that protects the kingdom, but to do so, they must train diligently to master morar and that’s not an easy feat.

When I first started reading this book, I was worried that it was going to fall into the YA chosen one trope. There are issues in the kingdom and due to unforeseen circumstances, Damon and Cyril are the ones that have to try and make things right. It would have been easy for the authors to have made the brothers overly talented and perfect, the chosen ones. Damon and Cyril could have picked up on morar use easily and been the typical heroes that we’ve seen repeatedly… but this book is different. Everything DOESN’T come easily to the main characters. They have to work and work hard to succeed. I love that and think it shows creativity on the authors part.

The book as a whole is very creative. It has a detailed magic system that makes sense, a story line that flows well, interesting characters and plenty of twists. I do have two minor complaints, however. One, the time period isn’t really referenced or explained, that I’m aware of. Knowing the time period isn’t crucial to the overall story but it’s just a detail that would have added to the immersion. Two, I would have liked there to be a bit more character depth. A few of the characters didn’t seem fully fleshed out but I’m sure that will be developed in the next two books. As I said, these are just minor complaints and nothing that can’t be fixed later in the series.

Final Thoughts

I recommend Stand for any young adult, fantasy fans. It was a clean read and would be appropriate for most readers. The next book in the series, Fall, has a tentative release date of summer or autumn 2020. I have quite a few links for this book and the authors so all of that will be listed down below! I would love to know if this book sounds like one you’d enjoy and thanks again to the authors for sending it to me! Thanks for reading and have a great day!

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