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I’ve been a big fan of Jennifer Estep’s Elemental Assassin series for adults for many years now. I religiously purchase that series audiobook on release day every year. I’ve yet to try another series by her. I’m not a big fan of young adult novels. I used to read them all the time, but I got really burnt out on the similar tropes that seem to pop up on all the paranormal YA novels. I even blacklisted them from my reading for a while. I’m starting to pick them back up, mostly from authors that I already love. I’m really glad that I did here. This series isn’t like any other YA series I’ve ever read.
This is a fantastic world that Ms. Estep has built around magical and powerful families. There are a ton of similarities between this series and the adult Elemental Assassin series. But, not so much that I felt like I was reading a younger version of the same story. There are straight up humans that don’t have magic and there are people with magic who kinda run things. They all have different types of magic, some even have more than one magic power. As with the Elemental Assassin series, the magic families have all the power and they exploit that power.
There are also really great characters in this story. Lila Merriweather is our main character. She has had a rough life. Her mother died when she was young. Her father is MIA. She was in foster care for a while, then decided that she was better off taking care of herself on the streets. She wasn’t completely alone though, she has Mo. Mo is an adult that helped her with documents and signing things for school. He also gives her jobs to help her. He also her only real friend and a mentor for her. He is also the one who convinces her that she should take the bodyguarding job with one of the powerful families.
Devon Sinclair is the only son of the Sinclair family. There have also been many attempts to kill him lately. When his current bodyguard is killed in Mo’s shop, Mo and Devon’s mother work out a deal to get Lila to become his new bodyguard. I liked Devon. He could be like so many other “trust fund babies”, of which you do see some in this book, but he isn’t. He is a real down to earth guy.
I also have a penchant for loving secondary characters, and that is no different here. I just fell in love with Oscar. He is a redneck pixie that lives in a dollhouse sized dilapidated trailer in Lila’s new room in the Sinclair home. The Sinclair’s felt she needed a pixie, so Oscar helps out around her suite. He also has a tiny pet tortoise named Tiny. If you’ve ever read Kim Harrison’s The Hollows series, Oscar makes me think of a hillbilly Jenks. Always drinking honey beer in the trailer, where Jenks would get drunk on just plain ole honey and lived in a rolltop desk (even if only in the winter). I can’t wait to see where Oscar goes in this series.
This story was full of monsters, action, and great characters. The worldbuilding was amazing. Both Lila and Devon proved to be wonderful young adult characters without all the angst that seems to creep into so many YA novels. We do see them interact with some of the other kids and do things like go on dates, which sounds mundane, but turns out not.
This is my first book with Brittany Pressley. She did a great job with the narration of this series. It takes place in a mythical town of Cloudburst Falls, West Virginia. So there are Southern accents for most of the characters. There is even the accent for the aforementioned Oscar, the drunk, hillbilly pixie. I thought she did a great job with all the different voices. I could always tell who was talking. She really brought out the tone of the story and did great with the snark. I plan to finish this series on audio.
9 of 9 people found this review helpful
This was a really fun read. I can't say that there weren't several times where I felt like it was a redux of Gin Blanco. Toward the beginning, I was really distracted by the similarities. However, the narrative kicked in and I found myself enjoying, DESPITE the likeness.
My Estep has created another magic based world, but this time characters have a "talent" rather than an elemental ability. Once again, we see a town where mob-like families rule the roost and prey on those with fewer resources. Oh, and this time the setting is West Virginia, instead of Kentucky. So, the world is not very different from the world in which Gin lives.
As for the main character of this series, Lila is in many ways like a younger Gin, being just a teenager. She's a plucky orphan whose mother was killed by the top Mob Boss of the town. She is full of bluster and attitude and raw talent. Her profession, however, is that of a thief, rather than assassin, but she is also a trained fighter.
If you look at some details too closely, like why teenagers are acting as bodyguards and high level family representatives, things don't always add up. But, if you are a fan of Gin, you know that you will have to take some logical leaps (because let's face it, the best assassins don't routinely risk themselves by getting up close and personal with their targets). However, just like most of the Elemental Assassins, if you let go, the narrative can be pretty darn enjoyable.
9 of 10 people found this review helpful
Would you try another book written by Jennifer Estep or narrated by Brittany Pressley?
How would you have changed the story to make it more enjoyable?
I felt the romance was a bit predictable and very in the Young Adult style of romances, and the mobs didn't seem to do any criminal things...
What does Brittany Pressley bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you had only read the book?
They're a good narrator, and I felt the captured the voice of the books really well
If this book were a film would you go see it?
1 of 1 people found this review helpful