MY REVIEW of book #1 of this fantasy series
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Four and a half stars from me.
Aerenden: The Child Returns hits the ground running and doesn’t let up for some considerable distance.
Starting with the rescue of a small child from a fire that kills her mother, we then cut to seventeen-year-old Meaghan, plagued by nightmares and confused by her attraction to her parent’s lodger, Nick, even after he spurns her advances.
In short order, Meaghan’s simple, college-oriented life is ripped violently away from her. Her parents are murdered and she’s on the run with Nick, even though she’s not sure she trusts him. In fact, he might be crazy, as he starts babbling about the pair of them being from another world, but then he drags her through a portal to Aerenden, and madness becomes reality.
The dangers keep coming thick and fast, and Nick is infuriating (to me, as well as to Meaghan) in his repeated refusal to explain things. Meaghan must learn to survive in this strange new world, and uncover Nick’s real motives.
This is a beautifully written book, rich in description and Kristen Taber has a great ear for dialogue. The action is relentless, and her main characters develop at a realistic pace as they both come to terms with their roles in life, and with each other. All the characters are well rounded, with multiple weaknesses as well as strengths, and the plot flows naturally from events and decisions both historical and current.
I absolutely loved the idea of the magical gift of being a ‘Writer’, able to produce a book that takes the reader so far in, as to experience things as if they were part of the story. Seems to me that is what we (writers) all strive to do even though we lack the assistance of magical talents, and only the best succeed.
My reasons for not awarding the full five stars, even though I enjoyed this book immensely, were a few little anachronisms that irritated me (even more than Nick’s ability to put off almost every question until a convenient moment in the plot). Top of these were what to me, seemed a slight glitch in the world building. Okay, they have magical powers, but they live in villages which appear to be seriously low-tech, with more than a hint of the medieval, and yet they have such things as showers and syringes, and talk about gene pools. I also don’t understand how any sort of power could be considered a ‘disability’ – by its very nature, unless it has a detrimental effect on the one who possesses it, it must be an ‘ability’.
And why is it that villains always try to utterly destroy everything? Grim weed is a great invention, but if it’s going to choke all vegetation to death, how will the villain and his followers survive once they win the war?
Apart from those little niggles, there is a lot of information to absorb to understand the way in which this world works, but as Meaghan is also learning, it never comes in too big chunks, and it certainly all seems to hang together well by the time we reach the end of this instalment.
So although this is just Book #1 in the series, there is a nice rounding off of this portion of the tale, with an exhilarating climax rather than a cliff-hanger (my pet hate) and I’m looking forward to reading the rest.
I received a copy of this book for review for a blog tour; all thoughts and opinions are my own.