Review of The Siren’s Realm:
I loved the first book in this series and raced on to this one, eager to know what happened next for Jacob and Emilia. But I think this was one of those series where the premise was better than the execution–and the first book was pretty much all premise and setup for the series. What intrigued me from that point on was mostly the interaction between Jacob and Emilia, and the magical world they lived in, but not really the specifics of it.
In this story, the children of the Gray clan (Jacob, Emilia, Claire, and Connor) go to live in the forest with the centaurs, where they learn magical dueling. Emilia encounters an elderly centaur, who stirs in her the desire to find her mother. Claire is a 13-year old computer hacking prodigy, and she told Emilia that her mother was named Rosalie (while her father is the Pendragon, as we learned in the last book… so basically, Voldemort.) Rosalie and the Pendragon (Emil LeFay) are “tethered” in the same way that she and Jacob are tethered, so the only way Rosalie could actually get away from him without him knowing exactly where she was, was to flee into the Siren’s Realm: a magical alternate world reachable by jumping off of Cadillac Mountain in Maine (which was fun, since I’ve been there at sunrise.) But it’s a dangerous place, full of magical transactions which can keep one stuck forever, if you’re not careful. While there, Jacob wrestles with the question of whether Emilia truly loves him, or whether she’s just stuck with him since they got themselves tethered on accident. I thought they’d let that question hang longer for the sake of the tension, since there were two more books in the series, but it basically got resolved in this one.
My rating: ****
Review of The Dragon Unbound
Dexter, Emilia’s boyfriend who betrayed them in the first book, returned to the story repentant in this one. There was potential there for something interesting to transpire, but he became a very flat character, as did the others’ reaction to him. He wanted their forgiveness, and they refused to give it. His return created a brief moment of tension between Emilia and Jacob again, in which Jacob once again questions whether she loves him. A magical contrivance allows him to learn (again) that, in fact, she does. But it lacked the impact this time around, because we’d essentially already been through that in the last book.
It also started to become very apparent to me that none of the characters were especially memorable except for Emilia and Jacob, and really the only thing interesting about them was how they felt about each other. Now that that was well established, it started to get sappy. Claire is one-dimensional too: she never says anything that isn’t snarky. The rest of the characters were just names, more or less. There was a chapter end when the mage who betrayed them all was revealed, and it was clearly supposed to be a big reveal. It fell totally flat for me, as I couldn’t even remember who this person was.
Perhaps because these books were so short, I decided to go ahead and finish the series anyway…
My rating: ***
Review of The Blood Heir
It’s rare that I finish a book that I enjoyed so little, but I’d come this far in the series. The finale felt almost like a rough draft. The kids go to the magical academy at last, which is basically Hogwarts once Umbridge is in control, but without the humor. They get ready for a war with the Pendragon, which is a recapitulation of the Battle of Hogwarts. Battle scenes were essentially just spells, and characters shouting each others’ names in angst. Several characters died, which was clearly supposed to have the emotional impact of the loss of Sirius or Dumbledore, but I either couldn’t remember who they were at all, or knew the name but was never made to care about them. The Pendragon is evil for the sake of being evil, and he and all the other dragons spout platitudes more or less on the level of “and now you will die!” All the dialogue was very “on the nose,” really. Emilia and Jacob became rather nauseating.
I normally listen to books on 1.8 speed; I sped this one up to 2 just to finish it faster, which didn’t take very long because they’re all quite short. Again, the series had a good premise, and might have been wonderful had it not so clearly mimicked Harry Potter, and had there been a lot more interesting characterization.
My rating: **
For the series:
Sexual content: none
Violence: I think there was still some torture in this one, though it didn’t traumatize me or anything
Language: I believe there were a few words here and there
Woke content: none