Book Review: Dragon Redeemer by Amy Bearce

Dragon Redeemer (World of Aluvia, #3)Dragon Redeemer by Amy Bearce
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I received a copy of this book at no cost from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

The third – and, I believe, final – book in the “World of Aluvia” series wraps up the stories of our six heroes – Sierra, Micah, Phoebe, Tristan, Nell and Corbin – quite nicely. While all six are involved, though, this is truly Nell’s story.

In Fairy Keeper and Mer-Charmer (the first two books in the series) we are initially introduced to Nell as an enforcer for the ruthless gang of drug-dealing alchemists who was doing what she had to for her family’s safety, and saw her grow into a new role as the host of a mysterious voice which spoke through her to the people of Aluvia about the need to rebalance magic in the world and maintain that balance so the world won’t be destroyed.

By the time of “Dragon Redeemer,” Nell has gotten somewhat used to the voice taking over whenever it decided a message need to be relayed, but she wasn’t entirely at peace with it, nor with having given up her identity as a warrior to learn how to be a healer instead. While her boyfriend Corbin is thrilled with her transition into a peaceful way of life, Nell feels like she’s setting aside an integral part of who she is.

This conflict – both within herself and between her and Corbin – comes into sharp focus when the group learns that a magic-user calling himself The Dragon plans to take over the world and declare all magical creatures – such as fairies, mer-folk, fauns and dragons – as subservient to humans, who can use them and their magical abilities however they want. To stop him, Nell will have to learn more about the voice that has chosen her as its vessel and find a way to reconcile her healing and warrior sides.

Much of this book, like Fairy Keeper, is taken up by a trek through unknown lands searching for something Nell needs to help her defeat The Dragon. Quest stories aren’t always my favorite, but this one was better than many I’ve read, with a minimum of the side distractions that usually only serve to slow the heroes – and the story – down. And the last part of the book, after they’ve reached their objective is really good. Author Amy Bearce’s descriptions of what is happening and how Nell is reacting are vivid and, in some ways, I almost felt like I could see it unfolding on a screen in front of me.

Nell is probably my favorite of the six main characters in this series. She’s the most complex, and I find her quite relatable – and very likable, too. This isn’t to say that the other characters aren’t relatable or likable – they are – but there’s just something about Nell that makes her stand out even more, at least to me.

I’ve noticed with a few series in the last couple of years that sometimes the author keeps escalating things until they become so big and out-of-control that by the last book (or books, in longer series) the situation has gotten so preposterous that I don’t even want to finish it. That is most certainly *not* the case here. Bearce has done a great job over the three books of raising the stakes enough to keep things interesting and make the adventures important, without turning it into a metaphysical Gordian Knot that makes you want to turn your brain inside out to see if that helps it make more sense, and for that, I heartily thank her.

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Book Review: Mer-Charmer by Amy Bearce

Mer-Charmer (World of Aluvia, #2)Mer-Charmer by Amy Bearce
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I received a copy of this book at no cost from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

The second installment in the World of Aluvia takes place 4 years after “Fairy Keeper” and focuses on Phoebe Quinn, the younger sister of “Fairy Keeper’s” main character, Sierra Quinn. As the story opens, Phoebe has largely recovered from the ordeal she underwent in the previous book, but not entirely, and has found a great deal of comfort hanging out under the sea with her Mer friends, Tristan and his twin sister Mina. While Sierra is off traveling, she has asked Phoebe to stay close to home and not go to the sea, but being 14 and lonely, Phoebe goes anyway. Her defiance nearly gets her into serious trouble, however, and her only escape is to go with her friends to their village under the sea – a town filled with Merfolk who aren’t too fond of humans and, unbeknownst to them, about to face an ancient threat that has recently re-emerged.

Unlike “Fairy Keeper,” “Mer-Charmer” doesn’t involve a small group undertaking a quest to far-away lands in search of something, which gives the book a faster pace and the action seems more relevant to the actual goal than the various hazards a questing group can run into, and it made for nice contrast with the first story. Bearce has created a well-developed culture for the Merfolk as well as a history that explains why they tend to be wary of humans – even a human like Phoebe who clearly only wants to help.

I really enjoyed this book and read it pretty much in a single sitting. Bearce provides clear descriptions of the underwater world she’s created and I felt like I could see the Merfolk, their village and the events taking place there. Phoebe, Tristan, and Mina are very likable characters, and the friendship they share is portrayed strongly enough to justify the risks they’re willing to take for each other.

All-in-all, “Mer-Charmer” is definitely a worthwhile read.

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Book Review: Immortal Bound by TG Ayer

Immortal Bound (Apsara Chronicles #1)Immortal Bound by T.G. Ayer
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I love urban fantasy, and T.G. Ayer is quickly becoming one of my favorite UF authors. Her Valkyrie series (which begins with Dead Radiance is a great take on Norse lore, and Dark Sight is a promising beginning to her Daughter of Pythia series, which is grounded in Greek mythology. Likewise, Immortal Bound, the first book in her Apsara Chronicles, gets this series off to a solid start.

I was already familiar with both Norse and Greek pantheons and legends before reading the aforementioned books, but this was my first experience with anything involving the Hindu gods and their stories. I have to admit that I was a bit concerned at first about how well I’d be able to keep up with both a whole new cast of characters and a new-to-me cosmic order to boot, but Ms Ayer did a nice job of having her characters provide enough information to foster a basic understanding without resorting to the kind of expository infodumps that can kill the momentum of a story.

As I’ve come to expect from Ms Ayer’s books, the central characters are well developed, relatable, and grow nicely over the course of the story. I especially liked how the relationship between the mother and daughter evolved over the course of events. As for the story itself, there were a couple of plot points that were a rather predictable, but it contained enough twists and turns to keep things interesting, and wraps things up nicely while still leaving plenty of room for more adventures.

The only real complaint I have with the book is a technical one – it has a truly astounding number of typos and editing errors – the *vast * majority of which were minor things (like writing “fist” instead of “first” or “ember” instead of member) that didn’t impede the flow of the story or interfere with understanding what was happening. There were a couple, though, that threw me for a momentary loop – such as a character being referred to by the wrong name or a reference to an object that wasn’t actually introduced until a few chapters later. That technical issue aside, however, I really enjoyed the story and am eager to read the next installment.

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