DNF I read about 150 pages before I put this aside--not because it's a bad book by any means, but because I mostly felt indifferent to it.
Firebrand sDNF I read about 150 pages before I put this aside--not because it's a bad book by any means, but because I mostly felt indifferent to it.
Firebrand starts off with a great scene: a boy named Seth watches as his brother and his brother's lover are about to be put to a painful death, and he's helpless to stop it. All he can do is choose whether to end their lives to spare them the pain. The book then takes us back to Seth's childhood, where his history with his brother and his troubled relationship with his parents shape who he becomes.
I really liked some of the writing, and found the story engaging enough at first. The strongest and most interesting part of the book is definitely the relationship between Seth and his older brother Conal, whom he idolizes and resents at the same time. But eventually it felt as though too many characters were randomly introduced as an afterthought, and there wasn't enough transition between scenes. Power struggles, evil queens, kingdoms at stake--that's all old hat, you know? It's the human interplay that makes the most difference to me.
I peeked through the last couple of chapters and did find it interesting how the author handled the way Sithe's relationships play out versus those of humans. (view spoiler)[Seth's lover Catriona eventually gets old and dies. Which is an interesting choice to include, and obviously sad in theory, though not written to incite nearly as much heartbreak as someone like me would wish. (hide spoiler)] It wasn't really enough to keep me going, however, though hardcore fantasy fans might like this more than I did.
PS--This is definitely an adult book, so don't be misled by the age of the protagonist.
An advance copy was provided by the publisher for this review. ["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>...more
3.5 stars Confession time: as someone who is still suffering from Archer withdrawals a big fan of the first two Hex Hall books, I was a little nervous3.5 stars Confession time: as someone who is still suffering from Archer withdrawals a big fan of the first two Hex Hall books, I was a little nervous about the prospect of a spinoff series. I'm happy to report that School Spirits finds the author back in fine form, this time with a character that was introduced in Spell Bound.
Remember the girl who talked to the Torin, the guy stuck in the mirror? Izzy Brannick is now fifteen, and her family has a long history as hunters of supernatural creatures. After she and her mom move to a new town in Mississippi, she starts to investigate mysterious hauntings at her high school under the guise of membership in the PMS (hah!) or Paranormal Management Society. The problem is, this case is more complicated than it initially appears--and it doesn't help matters that Izzy has no idea how she's supposed to fit in and be a "normal" teenager.
Written with the author's signature bouncy prose and effervescent humor, School Spirits is presented with more of a traditional mystery framework than the Hex Hall series, which really helps with driving the story forward and keeping the plotting clean. Izzy's Nancy Drew shenanigans are well-balanced with her family life, her relationships with her new friend Romy, and her relationship with her mom. I also liked Dex, a highly amusing fellow who charms Izzy with his witty quips and flamboyant personality. He makes for a rather unconventional love interest, and it's going to be interesting to see where that story arc goes next with the various complications thrown in their way.
You will have to suspend a certain amount of disbelief with how things end with the two of them, by the way; and after setting up such a good pace for the story, the ending also felt a bit rushed to me. But this series is definitely off to a fun start, and Izzy is a heroine who's easy to root for. Will she find out what happened to her sister Finley? What's really going on with Torin? I MUST KNOW. It's vexing to have to wait a year or more to find out these answers, but with such a cheerfully brisk narrative and colorful array of characters, you can be sure I'll be among the first in line for the next installment in this series.