Year One by Nora Roberts

Posted December 8, 2017 in Book Review / 11 Comments

I received this book for free in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Year One by Nora RobertsYear One by Nora Roberts
Series: Chronicles of the One #1
Published by St. Martin's Press on December 5th, 2017
Genres: Fantasy, Horror, Paranormal
Pages: 432
Format: Physical ARC
Source: Publisher
Purchase on: Amazon | B&N
Also by this author: The Collector, Sea Swept, Rising Tides
One StarOne StarOne StarOne Star

It began on New Year’s Eve.

The sickness came on suddenly, and spread quickly. The fear spread even faster. Within weeks, everything people counted on began to fail them. The electrical grid sputtered; law and government collapsed—and more than half of the world’s population was decimated.

Where there had been order, there was now chaos. And as the power of science and technology receded, magic rose up in its place. Some of it is good, like the witchcraft worked by Lana Bingham, practicing in the loft apartment she shares with her lover, Max. Some of it is unimaginably evil, and it can lurk anywhere, around a corner, in fetid tunnels beneath the river—or in the ones you know and love the most.

As word spreads that neither the immune nor the gifted are safe from the authorities who patrol the ravaged streets, and with nothing left to count on but each other, Lana and Max make their way out of a wrecked New York City. At the same time, other travelers are heading west too, into a new frontier. Chuck, a tech genius trying to hack his way through a world gone offline. Arlys, a journalist who has lost her audience but uses pen and paper to record the truth. Fred, her young colleague, possessed of burgeoning abilities and an optimism that seems out of place in this bleak landscape. And Rachel and Jonah, a resourceful doctor and a paramedic who fend off despair with their determination to keep a young mother and three infants in their care alive.

In a world of survivors where every stranger encountered could be either a savage or a savior, none of them knows exactly where they are heading, or why. But a purpose awaits them that will shape their lives and the lives of all those who remain.

The end has come. The beginning comes next.

YEAR ONE by Nora Roberts is the first book in her new paranormal trilogy, Chronicles of the One. IT IS NOT ROMANCE. It blends classic Roberts paranormal, apocalyptic horror, and epic fantasy into something I’ve never experienced from the Queen of Romance. Of course there are minor romance plots within the story but it is not the focus. Be ready for freaky magic, a few awws, and a lot of sobbing.


“Now between the birth and the death of time, power rises from the long slumber. Now begins the blood-soaked battle between them. And with the lightning and a mother’s birth pangs comes The One who wields the sword.”

The MacLeod men had no way of knowing hunting pheasants for their Scottish New Years Eve party would unleash the Doom, a deadly virus destined to wipe out billions. As government and technology collapse, magic reigns. People without a lick of magic are changed forever while a few who were already touched by it find their powers have grown. Many blame the Uncanny, those “blessed” with magic for the destruction, and no one is safe—from the authorities rounding up survivors or from the Raiders pillaging and destroying anything and everything.


I’m one of those people who hate change so it stands to reason when an author decides to move away from the predictable and heads down a new direction, I’m always wary. I put off reading THE ONE for this very reason. Finally, when my curiosity became too much to bear, I pulled up my big girl pants and sat down to dig in.

The pace was slow enough for Roberts to take her time building the world of the Chronicles of the One—then cruelly smashing it to piecesbut not so painfully slow it had me yawning. A new world of freaky powers and untold dangers rose from the ashes and suddenly I was grateful for the almost painfully eventful and thorough world building.. Roberts sets the stage well and patiently introduced us to important players, which I found important when I realized how many characters the book features.

Unlike other trilogies by Nora Roberts, the Chronicles of the One doesn’t follow the usual trend of following a new couple with every book and ending with a happily ever after. Remember I warned you this wasn’t romance? It’s not. It may feature a love story, mild sex, and people falling in love, but it’s really the beginning of an epic adventure that promises to span generations (I’m 99% positive of this from the ending).

It’s hard for me to put YEAR ONE in a box. It’s an epic fantasy with a weird mixture of high and urban fantasy elements mixed in. It’s not really necessary to your enjoyment of the story for me to add this tidbit, but I find it will help y’all to acknowledge this going in.


YEAR ONE follows a large crew of characters, yet it revolves around four groups of survivors that eventually meet and mesh into one. Every time Roberts introduces a new character, they’re related with a certain group so while YEAR ONE has an intimidating amount of characters, they’re not too difficult to follow.

Max, Lana, Eddie, & Joe

 Max and Lana are a Wiccan couple who’ve been together a year when the Doom hits. Max is a best-selling author and Lana a chef working her way to the top of NYC’s food scene. While both were practicing witches, only Max had a talent before magic arose to power. Max and Lana’s destiny’s is steeped in mysterious dreams and vague prophesies that are later explained by unfolding events and heartbreaking tragedy. Be prepared, this becomes a painful pattern throughout the novel.

Max and Lana stumble into Eddie & Joe when they flee NYC and head to catch up with Max’s brother. Young Eddie and his canine companion aren’t the first survivors they run across, but they are the first that aren’t evil or government crones attempting to round-up the immune. Eddie and Joe join them on their journey to Pennsylvania.

Eric (Max’s younger brother) along with Allegra, Shaun, Poe, and Kim

This crew is a group of surviving college students from Penn state that Max and Lana finally catch up with spinning on their heels in Shaun’s family owned cabin in the mountains. They don’t actually appear in the novel until Max’s crew meshes with theirs, but since they were their own misfit band of survivors first, I’m mentionioning them separately as well. All is not well with this crew and it’s not long before the original crew realizes dangerous foes hide within in the group. Betrayal and tragedy follow the discovery and our group is on the move once more.

Katie, Jonah, and Rachel

Katie is Ross MacLeod—Patient Zeroesdaughter, pregnant with twins, and the only living member of her family left. Jonah, the very EMT that brought Ross to the hospital to die, had just about to given up hope in the survival of humanity, Katie rushes into the hospital in labor and gives him hope. He, Katie, an orphaned newborn, and ER doc Rachel Hopman, pack what they need and flee the city, determined for the babies to surviveand not in some government testing facility as unwilling experiments.

Arlys, Little Fred, and Chuck

Arlys is a television reporter and who’s forced to flee NYC along with her coworker Freddie. Chuck, her friend, informant and computer genius extraordinaire helps get them out of the city and travels alongside them to their small town, Ohio destination.

You’d think it easy to get buried under such a large character list, but Robert’s created easily distinguishable characters. I grew to love much of them, despise a couple, and sobbed like hell when a few met their doom. Surprisingly they did not blur into a confused mess

YEAR ONE is reminiscent of NR’s The Circle Trilogy but with an epic twist and a whole new direction. I know I have repeatedly warned y’all about this, but I find it very important for long time Nora Roberts fans to know that it is not a romance story, no matter what romance arcs it sports. Main characters die in YEAR ONE and Roberts is not as kind to the survivors as she is when readers know each book will at least sport a happy for now ending.

I am happy with the ending, but even with the hopeful ending of YEAR ONE I know the end of the pain and suffering for the remaining characters is far away. In any case, I loved this new direction Roberts takes in this novel. I am eagerly anticipating the next thrilling yet heartbreaking installment of this dark epic fantasy.

YEAR ONE by Nora Roberts is the thrilling beginning of a dark epic fantasy. @StMartinsPress Click To Tweet

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About Nora Roberts

Nora Roberts is the #1 New York Times bestselling author of more than 200 novels, including Come Sundown, The Obsession, The Liar, and coming in December 2017, Year One — the first book in The Chronicles of The One. She is also the author of the futuristic suspense In Death series written under the pen name J.D. Robb. There are more than 500 million copies of her books in print.

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