Received an ARC from the lovely Boyce last year, couldn't review it then, by the time I did, Daily Times (my paper) had decided YA wasn't suitable for it OP-ED Pages. This Blog is only for my published work but I promised the author a review, so here it is. Apologies for the delay S.M.
P.S: I am looking forward to Illusion.
Reviewed by: Afrah Jamal
Treason’. Change is in the air for both realms and newcomers vie for Ourea - the fictional land envisaged by S.M. Boyce and brought to life in ‘Lichgates’ - Book I.
Book III that was supposed to wind up our heroines arc, marks the continuation of the same journey that began when Kara, a human fell off the grid. That her new address says Ourea, a treacherous terrain stocked with magical creatures of known and unknown origin with an ‘abandon hope sign, all ye who tumble through here’ probably lying somewhere makes her a constant target. Readers rediscover the restive heart of the land which holds many attractions and features familiar faces alongside conniving Bloods (ruling faction), conniving Heirs (Bloods in waiting) and Kingdoms under siege geared for the mother of all battles. Duplicity runs in their collective blood-line.
Though the vibrant landscape remains the same, and fleet-footed muses or soul sucking Isens darken the horizon, wonderland’s seething underbelly, and complex politics continue to fascinate. The components used to propel its supernatural core come in outlandish gear, and churn out promised twists, a rising body count and some family melodrama. This is escapism, littered with emotional debris where magic, mayhem and monsters come and go, and matters of the state override potential rides into the sunset.
The Grimoire Saga, which has a collection of genres at its beck & call links those two pretty leads, and has readers rooting for their future. There is a lot of ground to cover and many loose ends to tie up. The story was too big, according to Boyce, and could not be compressed in a trilogy but she promises ‘Illusion’ will be the final chapter.
‘Heritage’ is where Kara – an ordinary girl turned Vagabond becomes the lynchpin though nothing on the protagonists resume spells savior. Kara & Braeden (resident Ourean with secret past) are otherwise typical teens, busy battling an identity crisis or two as things go sideways. Ourea, is as unwelcoming as ever, a viper’s nest of brittle alliances, exquisite cultures and toxic relationships, leaving its residents chasing the elusive mirage of peace. The spotlight is on Kara’s training as she comes to terms with her family’s troubling history while Braeden’s personal demon hunting quest gains traction. The evolving tapestry gives one a chance to test her new-fangled diplomatic skills in full on warrior mode and the other to get comfortable in the role of a spy.
This time around there is a more grounded feel to the layout and Boyce can be counted on to pull mandatory rabbits out of Ourean hats towards the end responsible for those major seismic shifts in plot. The storyline operates on two levels – one uses lightweight caricatures of magical critters to liven the tension, and the other left to create a whole new playfield filled with enticing visions and opaque agendas that deepen the mystery. The series hums with intrigue; there will be political entanglements and revenge fantasies aplenty as readers become reacclimatized to the shiny new dimension. This version is more involved with the turning point in Ms. Magari’s life and therefore less consumed with the domestic feuds and complex inter-Kingdom rivalries, though glimmers of intrigue do filter through. The characters are all headed in the same general direction, different agendas in tow - the end game, however remains hazy.
‘Heritage’ mercifully dials down the torture but keeps the double dealing coming. Kara & co. are no longer on an exploratory mission and neither are the readers. The author leaves room for guest perspectives in each book that provide valuable insight allowing readers to break away for a bit and explore the countryside under the guidance of eager stakeholders. The side trips are meant to enlighten, even as the inherent cruelty keeps testing the limits. Despite its elaborate set-pieces, the latest chronicles of Ourea retain the look and feel of a primer before the finale kicks off. The ultimate showdown presumably arrives in Fall (2014), via ‘Illusion’. It is available in Paperback & Kindle edition.
• Paperback: 296 pages
• Publisher: Caffeinated Books Publishing, LLC; 1 edition (October 27, 2013)
• ISBN-10: 1939997127
• ISBN-13: 978-1939997128