Thursday, April 17, 2014


by Sarah Rees Brennan
Recommended Ages: 13+

In Book 2 of "The Lynburn Legacy," a dark ultimatum looms over the outwardly charming town of Sorry-in-the-Vale. The evil sorcerer Rob Lynburn means to return the town to its old ways, in which the sorcerous few held power over the non-magical many—an arrangement whereby good weather and prosperous fortunes were given in exchange for blood sacrifice. Rob and his sorcerers demand a victim—a human victim, mind you—on the winter solstice, not only to show that the town submits to them, but to ramp up their magical mojo. Standing in the way are Rob's estranged wife Lillian, the lady of Aurimere manor; his half-sibling sons Jared and Ash, who epitomize every teen girl's dilemma between the sexy bad boy and the really nice guy; and, epitomizing every teen girl, high school newspaper editor Kami Glass and her brave but very mortal friends.

When we met Kami in Unspoken, she was linked with Jared in a most intimate way. The pair had been hearing each other's thoughts since childhood, each discovering only lately that the other wasn't an imaginary friend. The link that bound them was a powerful spell that made Kami a source of power to Jared, like a magical battery. But now that link is severed—sorry if that spoils Unspoken for you! For the first time ever, they can't read each other's mind. To say this puts a strain on their relationship would be like saying Sorry-in-the-Vale is about to become a very interesting place to live. Their feelings are as mixed as the signals they send each other, a confused jumble of love and hate, desire and mistrust. Kami doesn't know who kissed her one night in a dark corridor—was it Jared or Ash? Neither boy knows whether she wants it to be him. And the decision she will be forced to make towards the end of this book, so that the town can live to fight another day, will only increase the jealousy issues between the two boys.

In case there can be too much teen romance, there is plenty of other stuff jazzing up this book's catalog of attractions. It has the characters who make charming and funny patter together. It has the family drama of a marriage coming unstuck, and the horror of a child being stolen. It has the suspense of an impending catastrophe, the thrill of a blood-drenched magical battle, the chill of an eerie magic ritual, and a hair-raising attempt to rescue prisoners from the bad guys' lair. It has the loneliness of a kid who has lost the respect of everyone he cares about, and the nobility of self-sacrifice, and the tantalizing promise of a third book in the trilogy—Unmade, coming in September 2014.

But supposing, for the sake of argument, that there cannot be too much teen romance, what then? Well, there's plenty more of that too. There is a subplot about girls accepting that one of their girlfriends likes girls... and maybe another girl struggling to accept the truth about herself. There is a goodly amount of teen snogging and petting, which very nearly leads to a great deal more; so, mature judgment will be the habit of a successful reader. The question "Who will end up with whom" seems to take up enough brainspace to ensure that all the other dilemmas will rush upon everyone with even greater urgency. In short, when the book isn't making your heart stammer with excitement and dread, it is making you giggle and go awww. And again it proves that its author, who also wrote the Demon's Lexicon trilogy and co-wrote Team Human with Justine Larbalestier, knows how to create a climax of frenzied intensity.

No comments: