Review by Rex Sumner
This is a thoroughly enjoyable read. It is set in present day England, with links to another world through portals and the ether. Essentially it is a Young Adult story, of a teenage girl discovering she is a witch when disaster strikes. Yes, I know, ho hum, but it is done rather well with some new twists. Witches in both worlds are portrayed well, if the concentration is on our world, and the baddie’s point of view is shown once, briefly. Perhaps this is preparing him for a larger role in subsequent books?
The storyline is fairly standard but there are some excellent twists and it is just done well. I enjoyed the dragonriders, tattooed and dragonless as they are. The witches and their interactions and politics is done quite well, albeit a little simplistic it is understandable and plausible. A good twist on the cost of casting magic. Plausible relationship between two teenagers – well, except that they don’t do drugs, drink alcohol or have sex! Neither do any of the characters.
This perhaps is what makes the characters less believable – even the bad guys just kill the good guys, what little torture exists is violence based and Simon makes the mistake of using these scenes to put in background detail through the captors telling the victim and explaining what they are doing. This is something Simon does not do well, for although he paints his scenes well through events, putting in background information is clunky. There are a few occasions when the reader steps back, jarred out of the story because a character does something unbelievable or out of character or because you can’t see how that fits into the narrative or because a scene has apparently been cut. A small scene. I think the editing is the cause of this, as it is a little suspect with spelling mistakes and the odd gender switch being missed.
Dialogue is excellent, the pace is great, you want to keep reading. I do like the way he takes an ancient creature into modern England and sets it free to revel in modern technology. He does this creature very well.
The book ends rightly on a cliff hanger, with the heroine off to save the worlds and no idea how to go about it and it is set up to be a good series.
Should you read this book? If you like this type of YA Fantasy with witchcraft, you will enjoy it. Would I read it again? No, it is not a Tolkien. Would I read the sequel? Absolutely.