Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Book Review: Crimson Dahlia by Abigail Owen

Crimson Dahlia Cover The third book in the Svatura, young adult, urban fantasy series

Crimson Dahlia (Book #3 of the Svatura Series) by Abigail Owen

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

This is the third book in the Svatura, young adult, urban fantasy series. If you have not read the first two books, please do not read this review, as it contains spoilers for those books. Here is a brief summary of the crucial plot points of the first two books as a memory jogger for those who read them a while ago:

The Svatura are humans who genetically inherit magical powers of all sorts, such as: shape-shifting, super strength, super speed, teleportation, telekinesis, healing, controlling the earth, controlling the weather, and producing fire, ice and toxic gas. Svatura are very long-lived, as much as several thousand years. They are not immortal because they do age, though extremely slowly, and they can be killed. Their powers begin to manifest at puberty, but it can take decades--and in some cases as much as several hundred years--for a Svatura to reach full mastery of his/her power(s). Since there are not very many Svatura in the world, they are not always able to marry another Svatura, and even more rarely are they able to find a fellow Svatura who is their "te'sorthene," a magical soulmate. In a mating of a human and a Svatura, the offspring, if they become a Svatura, usually only inherit one power. When a Svatura is born of two Svatura, it is possible to inherit two powers, but this usually only occurs in the case of twins, and the twins can share the three to four powers that they have inherited between the two of them.

In Book 1, Blue Violet, the heroine is Ellie Aubrey, who looks as if she is about 18, but in fact is over 150 years old. She meets, falls in love with, and marries her te'sorthene, Alex Jenner, who appears equally young, but is of a similar actual age to Ellie. In that book, we are introduced to her twin brother, Griffin Aubrey, and Alex's family. Hugh and Lucy Jenner are te'sorthene who have been together for centuries and are the parents of Lila and Adelaide Jenner and are Alex's adoptive parents. The Pierces are a companion family to the Jenners. Charlotte and Dexter Pierce are te'sorthene who are the adoptive parents of Nate Pierce and Ramsey Pierce, and Nate and Ramsey are a similar age to Ellie, Alex and Griffin. In this first book, the Svatura band together to defeat their long-time enemies, the Vyusher, who are Svatura who can morph into wolves as well as having additional powers. For over 130 years, their leader, Gideon, has enslaved his sister Selene with his power of mind control, forcing her to use her own magical powers in his war to exterminate non-wolf-metamorph Svatura. Selene has the ability to turn off temporarily or permanently the magical powers of Svatura and to visit dreams. The primary focus in this story is Ellie, and the A Plot is her romance with Alex. The B Plot involves the skirmishes and final, epic battle with the Vyusher in which Ellie, utilizing her ability to morph into a dragon, kills Gideon and, presumably, ends the Vyusher war.

In Book 2, Hyacinth, Selene, Queen of the Vyusher, is redeemed and brought into the Jenner-Aubrey-Pierce family circle by Ellie. Selene is Griffin's te'sorthene and a similar age to Griffin. She has visited Griffin's dreams for many, many years, and until he met her in the flesh, he had no idea she was a real person, though Selene was very aware of Griffin as a real Svatura, and had used her powers to protect him and Ellie from her evil brother. In this book, once again the Jenner-Aubrey-Pierce family circle unites to defeat terrible villains. Though most of the Vyusher, under Selene's command, have given up the war against their fellow Svatura which was forced on them by Gideon's mind control, a mysterious Vyusher named Maddox is, for reasons unknown, continuing to persecute both regular Svatura and Selene's Vyusher subjects. Maddox is traveling the world, seeking out Svatura communities, convincing them that Selene's Vyusher are still their enemy, to the point that they must pre-emptively strike against the Vyusher before the Vyusher can come after them. This book is narrated from multiple points of view and is written as an ensemble-cast story, rather than primarily focusing on a romantic couple, as was the case with Ellie and Alex in Book 1. The A Plot in Book 2 is "woman power" and the magical enhancement gained by Ellie, Selene, and the other women in the Jenner-Aubrey-Pierce family circle due to performing ritual, group magic with each other. The romance between Selene and Griffin is secondary to the female-friendship plot and the action-adventure plot of the battles against Maddox and his allies.

In this, Book 3, the battle against Maddox and his minions continues, and this book, like Book 2, is narrated from multiple points of view and is written as an ensemble-cast story. The A Plot is how the Jenner-Aubrey-Pierce family circle, in cooperation with Selene's Vyusher pack, works together to defeat Maddox and his murderous minions, and a big part of the story is discovering how Maddox is obtaining minions and what his motivation is. The romance between Lila Jenner and Ramsey Pierce is a strong B Plot. Lila's inherited Svatura powers are the ability to sense when others are telling the truth and the ability to sense and heal emotions. Within the sisterhood plot of Book 2, she additionally gained the ability to share Ellie's falcon morph power and telepathy (a power that Ellie shares with Griffin) and dream visitation from Selene. Ramsey is a firestarter, a feared and dreaded power since it is one of the most destructive and most difficult to control.

Fans of action-adventure-fantasy books and films with a focus on teamwork to overcome impossible odds, in particular those which include female team members who are co-equal warriors with the males, will greatly enjoy this latest addition to the Svatura series. The world-building remains very well done and highly entertaining, and the one-for-all and all-for-one mentality of the heroic Svatura is very appealing. No matter which of the characters are your favorites, this book offers a chance to revisit all previous members of the Jenner-Aubrey-Pierce family circle once again. The ensemble-cast approach to YA urban fantasy that this series takes is quite unique, and readers looking for an original YA read will be delighted with the Svatura books.

I rate this book as follows:

Ensemble cast: 5

Fantasy World-Building: 5

Action-Adventure Plot: 5

Romance 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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