Thursday, July 4, 2013

Book Review: Hyacinth (Book #2 in the Svatura Series) by Abigail Owen

Hyacinth Cover
Book 2 of the young-adult, Svatura, urban-fantasy, paranormal-romance series

Hyacinth (Book #2 in the Svatura Series) by Abigail Owen

Reading Level: Young Adult
Release Date: February 22, 2013
Pages: 254 pages
Source: Author
Reviewed By: Kate McMurry

The Svatura are magically gifted humans who each tend to possess two or more superhero type powers. They are extremely long lived because they age very slowly. Their magical abilities usually begin to manifest in childhood, but most Svatura very slowly move toward complete mastery of their gifts across many decades.

Book 1, Blue Violet, centers on the romance of Ellie Aubrey and Alex Jenner. In this second book, Ellie and her brother Griffin are still living with Alex's family, the Jenners, and another Svatura family, the Pierces. Ellie and Alex are very much in love and planning their wedding, however, their romance is now in the background of the story and the primary romance is between Griffin and Selene, Queen of the Vyusher. The Vyusher were the villains of Book 1. They are essentially Svatura who have the ability, along with one or more other powers, to shapeshift into huge wolves.

In this book we learn in detail the history of the Vyusher. The villain who was killed by Ellie in Book 1, Gideon, was King of the Vyusher, and Selene's evil, older brother. His main magical power, other than shifting into wolf form, was mind control. He could force anyone to do what he commanded them to do while simultaneously causing them to believe that they were happy to comply. Selene could not resist the compulsion of Gideon's commands, but unlike everyone else, she retained the ability to know she was being compelled, a torturous state of mind to endure for even a short length of time. Selene is well aware that it is a miracle that she endured this heinous situation for 150 years and kept her sanity.

Selene is about 160 years old, almost exactly the same age as Ellie, Griffin and Alex. Gideon, her deceased brother, was only a year or so older than Selene. From the time she was ten years old, Gideon enslaved her and forced her to exert her main magical ability against others, starting with their own parents. Selene can turn off temporarily or, with huge effort on her part, completely eliminate the magical power of any other Svatura or Vyusher. Selene can also shift into a wolf, and she has the ability to hide Svatura from the Vyusher tracker whom Gideon had compelled for scores of years to track down Svatura so that he could have his wolves slaughter them. Gideon's obsessive goal was to destroy all Svatura who could not shift into wolves. He functioned as a kind of Svatura Hitler who was systematically creating a "master race" of wolf Svatura and committing genocide against all others.

In this story, the Vyusher are in disarray after Gideon's death, and a council of their elders cannot decide if they want Selene to be their queen. On top of that, Selene is not sure that she even wants the job, though it is hers by right of inheritance through her lineage.

Selene has been visiting Griffin's dreams since they were children--another magical gift of hers--and because she initiated her dream walking, she has always known who he was. This was not the case for Griffin. Until the end of the story in Book 1, when Griffin met her in person, he had never known his dream girl was real.

Griffin is painfully conflicted about his intense, emotional and spiritual attachment to Selene. He believes in his deepest self that she is his destined soul mate--in the same manner that Alex is Ellie's soul mate. But Griffin can't bring himself to forgive Selene, as Ellie has. Ellie believes Selene's story that only the mental enslavement by her evil brother could have caused her to aid him in his mass murder of Svatura, most especially Ellie and Griffin's family 150 years ago. In addition, one of their Svatura friends who can magically intuit truthfulness backs up Selene's story. Neither of these things is enough to turn the tide for Griffin. He feels tremendous guilt at the thought of having anything to do with Selene, even as a friend, let alone a potential mate, and he adamantly refuses to associate with her in person or allow her to continue to meet him in his dreams.

When Selene tells the Vyusher council that she wants to take a break from their clan to attend a university and moves to Estes Park, Colorado, where Ellie, Griffin, and the Jenners and Pierces are living, Ellie immediately befriends her. Griffin does his best to resist Selene, but the connection between them is so magically fated, he ends up following her around in the form of a falcon. Selene is well aware of his presence, because part of her ability to turn off magic in others is a constant, effortless awareness of any magic in play anywhere near her. Griffin's frequent presence gives her hope that they might, someday, have a future together.

This is a well-done YA urban fantasy series with strong female characters who are more than a match for the equally strong male characters. As a long-time fan of the adult romance genre, I am delighted to see a YA author employ the highly effective approach to a paranormal-romance series which has been used for decades by authors of adult romances. That is, having a different pair of lovers in each successive book in the series. What links the individual books is a shared magical world as well as close ties between the protagonists of all the books of the series, either by blood or friendship. Some classic examplse of this type of structure for adult, paranormal romance are The Edge series by Ilona Andrews and the Guardian series by Mary Jo Putney.

This book contains an excellent blend of romance, close friendship, and my favorite kind of action sequences in which success depends on a whole group of characters acting closely together to defeat a common enemy. The climax of the book is a battle scene as magically fast and furious as in Book 1, which will satisfy fans of action as well as romance in an urban fantasy book.

I look forward to reading the next entry in this thrilling series.

I rate this book as follows:

Heroine: 5

Subcharacters: 5

Fantasy World-Building: 5

Romantic Plot: 5

Action-Adventure Plot: 5

Writing: 5

Overall: 5

Disclosure: The author contacted me to review her book because I am a top reviewer on Amazon. I rarely accept such requests because I don't have a lot of time, but in this particular case I am very glad I did.

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