After years of relentless warfare, with her moral compass on the verge of collapse, Calla, a Guardian within the Realm, is thrown into an assignment that threatens to push her to a breaking point. If intuition and nightmares hold any truth, she is about to embark on her most difficult assignment yet.
*** SPOILER REVIEW ***
Great start of a book. The prologue pulled me right in! I had so many questions, and then… the first chapter started and it was 200 years later. What happened between the prologue and now? Not much of this has been explained, and I found this to be disappointing. I really hoped we’d have flashbacks, or something that would show us what’s it like to start your ’life’ in the Realm.
Throughout the story, hints are given about the Realm, about how dangerous it is, but nothing is really shown. This makes it harder for a reader to trust anything about the Realm, if they aren’t given the opportunity to experience it through the eyes and experiences of one of the characters.
There were several things that made me frown. Just to name a few:
At one point in the book, it says, “Kumal listened to everything from Sinatra to Cannibal Corpse. Today it was the Offspring.” Given the age of Kumal (he died 200 years ago), I’d expected music from his own time as well, not just from the last century.
Calla repeatedly says she doesn’t work with kids, but we’re never given an explanation as to why she’s resenting this part of the assignment.
Bennett’s been traveling when we first meet him, but when he comes home, he finds his dog Blue there. Who’s been taking care of Blue while Bennett was away?
This author knows her way with words. I loved her flowing writing style and choice of words. Sentences like: “People have said that Silas and I have the same eyes, but I don’t see it. His are beautiful. Mine are haunted.” I love that!
There were a few grammar errors here and there, and some scenes seemed unnecessary, but nothing that completely pulled me out of the story.
What did stick out to me where the Tell versus Show scenes. Like when Calla says: “If I ever lose total control it would be like a star collapsing on itself. When I come close, I either hurt people or cause substantial physical damage.” I would’ve rather seen this actually happening, perhaps with a flashback or something. Let the reader experience the real threat of her words instead of just saying it.
These are all small things, compared to the biggest issue I found in this book. Let’s focus solely on that: The assignment. I have so many questions. If they were there to investigate these boys being influenced by someone with powers like them, why were they then pulled off the assignment? What was the reason to investigate in the first place, if nothing was going to be done about it?
When on assignment, I expect there to be moments where the characters discuss the progress of the assignment. This didn’t happen which made its execution seem like we were dealing with a bunch of amateurs. I kind of expected that from most of these characters, had it not been for Calla and Kumal being assigned the team leaders.
Another thing I have to mention is the reasoning behind sending such a large team on this particular assignment. This became (painfully) clear when the roles were being given: a mother, 2 teenagers going to school and the rest? Well, roaming around in the house, having sex (or preluding to it) and playing videogames seemed to be how they were spending their time.
And lastly, the threat they were sent to investigate. One character is quickly pointed out as the villain, but that’s erased when we find out that they’ve been working with the Council. Wait… what? And then one of the last scenes when the conflict’s being addressed, the author writes, “The Suppressor at the door, one in the auditorium and two at opposite points on the campus.” So, there are 4 in total that were the threat. The character we thought to be the villain being one of them and a ‘female, young and untrained’. But nothing more is ever mentioned. Not before this scene, nor after.
So many speculations in my mind right now. I’m confused about this villain who might not be a villain given their role in the Council, but yet they were there working together with 3 others who were identified as the threat.
More is surely to be revealed in the second book, but at this moment I can’t shake the feeling that this book should’ve given more clarity regarding the threat. The way it was handled made it come across as not really a big threat to begin with.
Point of view
The story’s mainly told from the I-perspective, being Calla. A few chapters are from Bennett’s point of view and Corey’s point of view. I appreciate why the author chose to tell the story from these POVs, because they all added more depth to the story.
Calla is the main character of this story. Her job is a Guardian, and she has multiple powers such as being a “high-ranking energy Shield”, a “Seeker”, an “Alter”, a “weak Telepath” and a “top-ranking Chameleon”. I found all of these powers to be a bit overwhelming for just one person, but the author manages to portray Calla as a well-rounded, fleshed out character who has flaws just like everyone else. Even though Calla is 520 years old, she still has her human traits, like the way she acts around Indigo. All too often we see old figures be invincible, and I love the fact that the author chose a different, more relatable approach with Calla.
Silas is a wise, old guy and a trusted friend to Calla. He reminds me a bit of Gandalf, or Dumbledore. The role of the mentor.
Kumal is the first person we meet as we start reading this story, but it’s not his story that’s being told, rather Calla’s story. He has also the power to be a Shield, and he can see and hear Calla’s thoughts. I felt a hint of sadness that we weren’t there when he discovered his powers after arriving in the Realm. It must’ve been so interesting!
Other characters that form Calla’s team are Yara, Arthur, Coco, Jael, Sunshine and Indigo.. Although the author does put effort into making these characters differ from each other, I wasn’t too invested in most of them. Except maybe Indigo and Sunshine.
From the start, Indigo seems to have a mysterious effect on Calla, and we know they’ve got history, but in the end he’s not really too much of a threat – more like an annoying fly you try to swat off.
Sunshine, being the youngest character and introduced as someone who hasn’t manifested their powers yet, was interesting to me. I’d hoped we’d see how powers manifest with her, as we weren’t given that with Kumal. She’s later identified as a “Dangerous Reader”, but nothing in the story explains what makes her so dangerous (other than Calla saying for a brief moment she’s scared of her, but that’s again Tell versus Show). Sadly, her character wasn’t fleshed out as much as I’d hoped and in the end I’m not sure what her value to the story actually was.
To be honest, I think the story suffered a little from too many characters. Coco, Jael and Arthur didn’t add much to the story in my opinion. With just a few tweaks in the storyline, they could’ve easily been deleted from the complete story and no one would’ve noticed.
Calla’s team is sent down to the Living World to investigate a few boys (Corey, Jackson and Devitri (Dee)) who all are battling with their (inner)demons. Out of the three, Corey’s the only one who came to life to me because he was given a background story which made his reasoning seem plausible, more so than the other two.
The last character worth mentioning is Bennett, a 27 year old man who meets Calla on the plane and is immediately intrigued by her. Their story did feel a bit forced to me, especially given the fact that when Bennett learns Calla’s age being 10 years younger than him, he is still interested in her. Even though we (as readers) know Calla’s real age, Bennett doesn’t so that makes him a bit creepy in my book. I also have to mention that (within their roles of mother and grandfather) I find it highly unlike that they would be okay with a 27 year old man (even pushing him towards) ending up with their 17 year old (grand) daughter, let alone the legal implementations on this.
The story comes to a conclusive ending and most of the questions that you’re asking during the story are answered by the end, though there are a few that seemed to have been overlooked. Or perhaps that was the intention of the author. To me, the ending came too quickly. I would’ve liked to see a few things actually resolved at the end of the story and found that not having those answers deteriorated my overall enjoyment of the story.
Part of a series?
This book could be seen as a standalone, though there is a sequel to it. The story itself is pretty much told by the time you come to the last few pages, apart from some burning questions which I expected to have been resolved in this book. I understand with a series there’ll always be unanswered questions, but they shouldn’t interfere with the enjoyment of this particular story.
From what I gather about book 2, Trapped in Eternity, it seems to hint towards more information about the Realm (which I missed in this book) from a new character’s perspective and a continuation with the story of Calla and her team.
So, is this book by Lora Douglas enough for me to continue reading her stories?
I want a story to take me somewhere and even though this story definitely had scenes that took me on a journey, and I loved those, the feeling I have, now that I finished reading this book, isn’t one of pure joy. It’s one of confusion, mixed with a bit of disappointment. Given what I wrote down underneath ‘Part of a Series’, I can’t help but do feel intrigued by the idea of learning more about the Realm in the second book. But because I found quite a few things that didn’t add up for me in this book, I am hesitant in answering this question with a resounding YES, so, I’ll leave it at a maybe for now.
Petra is a published Indie author. She’s been writing all her life, but only dared to publish a book when she started writing the Somnia Series. She’s a motivational coach for (Fantasy) writers, offers all kinds of services on her own Dutch platform www.fantasyschrijfcoaching.nl, and uses her author’s website to help other writers achieve their writing goals. She loves using her platform to promote other Indie Authors who have the courage and determination to make their books worth your (reading) time.