I received a review copy as part of the tour. It has not affected my opinion.
Genre: Fantasy (Paranormal) Age Range: NA Star Rating: 3.5 Stars Series: Yes - first book
Six years ago, Grey Malteer was attacked by creatures he thought couldn’t possibly exist. They repeated a word, calling him a name he’d never heard before…Venator. Since then, his life has been a hellhole of secrecy—hiding old pain alongside strange new abilities.
Rune Jenkins has an itch, as she calls it, but it’s more than that. It’s an anger that builds up like the inside of a boiler whenever she’s around anything remotely supernatural. The pressure is growing steadily worse and she can’t understand why. All she knows is—her control is slipping.
By order of an unknown council Grey and Rune are pulled through a portal in the St. Louis arch, landing them in an alternate dimension where creatures of myth and legend exist. A realm that calls them, Venators.
Made up of centuries old fae, vampires, werewolves, elves and succubi the council’s corrupt nature becomes obvious as they seek to wield the newly returned Venators as weapons. Wedged in an impossible position, Grey and Rune must decide their fate—do they go against the council’s wishes and help the innocents of this unforgiving land, or face the possibility of execution by the council.
Synopsis taken from Goodreads. Add to your shelves here.
This is a good, fun book, entertaining and easy to read, but it doesn’t stand out from all the others I’ve read.
The pacing is really good. It’s such a fast book, with constant motion. It’s not full on action, but the story doesn’t let up so it feels like there’s always something coming around the corner to be ready for. This helped evoke the confusion and overwhelming nature of this new world Grey and Rune have been thrust into.
MAGIC UNLEASHED is a book of two different parts (except the second part is sandwiched in the middle). It starts of feeling like an adventure-y fantasy, with this new world, complete with an evil sorceress (who ends up being underused, more like she’s being set up as the series’ villain than actually a threat in this book). They need to adjust to this new world, discover what’s expected of them and navigate the physical dangers of a world hostile to Venators.
I really liked those sections, the big end sequence with the exciting action flow. It’s easy to follow and the visuals in my head were great. The stakes and near misses were clear. It’s certainly the best bit of the book, full of insane stunts that stretch believably, but cliff jumping is always fun to read about. It’s the sort of movie-level final sequence epic.
And then there’s the middle bit, which felt like it was trying to be political fantasy. I love political fantasy – it’s my favourite sub-genre by far – so the council dynamics should have been something I’d latch onto and love, but I didn’t.
It felt awkwardly jammed in between the more thematically and tonally consistent beginning and end, and wasn’t fleshed out enough. I struggled to understand the goals and methods of the council, so they didn’t feel intimidating. What was the reach of their power? I’m told they’re scary, but didn’t see it. What do they want? I don’t mind if books keep that obscured, as trying to figure it out from the clue is fun, but they seemed so goaless beyond “power”.
Some of the demands (made by the council, Tate and Verida) didn’t make sense. It wasn’t simply a matter of “these are the rules of a different world”. It felt like a ridiculous, illogical demand purely for added tension and to increase the stakes in Rune’s character arc.
She’s been taken from her home, her brother is a prisoner, and yet they’re expecting her to be calm and not angry? It’s a ridiculous request, and yet they all treat her as childish and weak for it.
Verida drinks her blood without permission, and then tells Rune of for being furious with her? It’s presented as Rune being disgusted by creatures she isn’t used to because she thinks she’s much better, when actually she came across as freaked out by a strange new world and all these rules she doesn’t understand. I’d react that way in her situation too.
Would I read the next book? Yes – this is a promising series, and the final few chapters hint that the politics might get more time and rounding out.
Read my reviews of other books by Devri Walls:
Venators (this series):