Wednesday, July 13, 2016

The Emerald Staff

The Emerald Staff
by Alison Pensy
Recommended Ages: 13+

Faedra Bennett learned in The Amulet, Book 1 of the Custodian Quartet, that she is the human custodian of the amulet half of an amulet/book combination that controls the forces of nature in seven realms of which the human world is only one. Now she knows she has amazing and dangerous powers, and her faithful dog is really a faerie named Faen who has been appointed as her Guardian, and her mother's death when Faedra was a little girl was caused by evil creatures called redcaps, and her real father is not the ordinary, 21st-century man who raised her but the king of the faerie realm of Azran, which makes the woman responsible for her mother's death her insanely jealous, faerie half-sister Vivianna... but now that all that's sorted out, it will all be smooth sailing for Faedra, right?

Well... I may have forgotten to mention that Vivianna got away, with the aid of a powerful magical object called the ruby staff, which was supposedly destroyed eons ago along with an evil dragon named Savu. The fact that the staff still exists is a clue that still nastier surprises await.

So, in this second installment in the series, while Faedra and Faen start to admit to themselves (and each other) the forbidden romantic feelings between them, and while she still has a lot to learn about how to control her energy-manipulating powers, Vivianna kidnaps Faedra's human dad and threatens to kill him unless she hands over the amulet. Joined by friends old and new (and, of course, Faen), Faedra must race against a countdown clock of dark magic to find the emerald staff, which can cancel out the advantage the ruby staff gives Vivianna. But that, in turn, means facing a sworn enemy of the human race and asking him, pretty please, to make an exception to the rule that Dragons Never Give Away Their Stuff.

Like the first book in the series, this book holds lots of appeal to fans of young-adult fantasy. It has young romance, powerful magic, interesting people, impressive worldscapes, suspense, action, and a quest that crosses the boundaries between not two, but three worlds - starting in present-day Norfolk, England, and ending up facing a dragon's fiery breath at point-blank range. It has surprise character developments, a vulnerable yet determined and resourceful heroine, and a side mission into a haunted castle.

It also has some spelling and punctuation errors, and still needs some editorial cleaning up - an understandable condition for a book that was not professionally published. As self-published stuff goes (particularly by an author who lives about 5 miles from me), it's really an impressive achievement. I will not delay long before reading Book 3, The Cypher Wheel. This review is based on a Kindle e-book of the complete Custodian Quartet.

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