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Catherine Downen
The Markings
DATHER IS AN ISLAND THAT WAS ONCE KNOWN AS OHAU. A nation that rose from the ashes after an asteroid shower has divided itself when people began to discover their unique powers. At sixteen-years-old Adaline sits in prison with her mother and younger brother, and today is Parting Day where more prisoners will be executed. After seven years of being spared, Adaline’s luck has run out. But she won’t go quietly or easily. Her life depends on her ability to escape the grasps of the King and find a place of freedom. Discovering her unique powers is the turning point Adaline needs to get a second chance at her freedom. In this thrilling novel of friendship, family, and secrets Adaline runs for her life and learns the truth of her past along the way.
Plot/Idea: 8 out of 10
Originality: 8 out of 10
Prose: 7 out of 10
Character/Execution: 8 out of 10
Overall: 7.75 out of 10


Plot: The first novel in a projected series, Downen's The Markings establishes, by its end, many intriguing and exciting mysteries and relationships. The story concerns a "gifted" prisoner, Adaline, escaping a king's prison with her newly discovered "Force Lifter" powers. Along the way, Downen reveals startling secrets about false memories, secret lineages, and portents of the future glimpsed by Adaline's mother and set down in a journal. Adaline's discovery that many of her memories have been manipulated might prove more effective if the novel's opening chapters immersed readers in those memories. The novel eventually offers many inventive, exciting ideas, but the first third, which concerns just a few characters and a familiar escape plot, doesn't signal to readers the book's charm and ambitions.

Prose/Style: For the most part, Downen's prose is admirably clear, meaning readers can visualize and understand exactly what is happening from moment to moment. It can also sometimes be flat and repetitious. Downen is adept at laying bare the hearts of her characters, and passages revealing the inner thoughts, fears, and hopes of protagonist Adaline are the novel's strongest.

Originality: A dystopian adventure epic set in a ruined America is a familiar idea, and The Markings doesn't reveal its most unique and inspired twists for quite a few pages. But once readers are brought up to speed on the history, present, and promise of Downen's world, they're likely to be engaged. Touches like letting the characters explore an underground bunker filled with junk from the real world's present are inspired, as is the plot device of a locked journal filled with Adaline's mother's visions of the future.

Character Development: Downen's cast distinguish themselves, as the novel goes on, as engaging, imperfect people capable of great courage and surprises. Especially touching is Adaline's grief and her disgust at herself for killing enemies. A twist involving Adaline's memories of her childhood with Cooper having been replaced with memories of Alexander is thought-provoking, and Downen expertly navigates the emotional fallout. The novel opens with lots of action and backstory, however, and moves too quickly at the start to give these characters a chance to reveal themselves.

Date Submitted: May 28, 2020

Goodreads Reader: Bradley Quid

I truly haven't read a book as amazing as this one in a long time! You will be able to tell that the feelings and emotions from the author really shine through in the characters which makes each and everyone easy to connect with. The adventure that this book puts you through will definitely leave you in awe and wanting more. This book will not disappoint anyone that picks it up and reads it! Truly a book that deserves praise!

Goodreads Reader: Carly-Rae London

I also got to read the novel before it’s release. I have to say that the character of Adaline is strong and full of courage. This story is about her on a journey as she fights for the truths of her past. I love journey stories and The Marking delivered. The ending left me going OMG! I need the second novel like yesterday.

Goodreads Reader: Janet

The book is a great read. The writing is amazing, with characters you will fall in love. The book is filled with suspense. The main character Adaline is a very determine and powerful main character going through a course that was pre-set for her but knowledge that is revealed affect that course. I would definitely recommend this book!

Goodreads Reader: Mia Gleason

Catherine's ability to tell a creative and engaging story is refreshing. I found myself drawn to certain characters in a way that I feel is sometimes uncommon with a new writer. Her character arc for Adaline was easy to follow and provided an easy flow with the introduction of new characters and new challenges/obstacles Adaline has to face through out this first book. I found myself intrigued, asking questions, and sometimes found myself frustrated with decisions some of the characters made - again, VERY compelling and engaging! I would highly recommend this to someone who enjoys adventure, some fantasy, conflict, and a bit of thrill. It was a quick read with well-grouped chapters. I am excited to read the rest of the series when Catherine releases them!

Goodreads Reader: Pat

This book is by far the best I have read lately, it is a page-turner. The journeys from despair to joyful interactions are done very smoothly. It is hard to believe this is Catherine's first novel, and I can't wait for the next adventure.

Goodreads Reader: Tina

What an impressive 1st installment in this series! I was hooked from the first chapter, struggled to put it down and eager to see how the story unfolded. Catherine filled her first novel with very relatable characters. This is a great book with a great female lead who develops a strong sense of self, trust in her own decisions and handles frightening situations with strength and resilience. I can’t wait to read book 2!