Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Book Review: The Angel Stone by Juliet Dark

Title: The Angel Stone (Fairwick Trilogy Book 3)
Author: Juliet Dark
Publisher: Ballantine Books
Release Date: 9/3/2013

You know those books, the ones that you eagerly await with baited breath? The ones that when you get them, you want to go run around the block screaming at the top of your lungs while holding your literary prize over your head like the Olympic Torch? This was one of those books and I was excited when I was approved for a copy. I can't say that this book really met those expectations, which were admittedly a little high.

For Callie McFay, a half-witch/half-fey professor of folklore and Gothic literature, the fight to save the enchanted town of Fairwick, New York, is far from over. After a hostile takeover by the Grove—a sinister group of witches and their cohorts—many of the local fey have been banished or killed, including Callie’s one true love. And in place of the spirit of tolerance and harmony, the new administration at Fairwick College has fostered an air of danger and distrust. 

With her unique magical abilities, Callie is the only one who can rescue her friends from exile and restore order to the school—a task that requires her to find the Angel Stone, a legendary talisman of immense power. Propelled on an extraordinary quest back to seventeenth-century Scotland, Callie risks her life to obtain the stone. Yet when she encounters a sexy incarnation of her lost love, she finds the greater risk is to her heart. As the fate of Fairwick hangs in the balance, Callie must make a wrenching choice: reclaim a chance for eternal passion or save everything she holds dear.

The story in this book didn't start off terribly. To the contrary, this actually wasn't half bad to start and I kept going through the pages at a feverish pace. There was still that element of magic that kept me mesmerized despite having some misgivings over how the book's prose felt in relation to its subject matter. The story so far has been fairly dark and the writing style felt slightly unsuited, as it felt pretty light and airy at times. That didn't overly bother me until it came time for Callie to travel back in time.

And that's about where the magic seemed to turn off for me as the reader.

The passages in the past aren't awful, but they seemed to lack the spark that the earlier pages of Angel Stone held. They almost felt a little forced and obligatory at times, especially when long stretches would pass and it just felt like things were going on forever. This kind of made this part of the story sag, which was unfortunate when you consider that once the story tries to return to its former pacing and setting, the plot rushes far too quickly and Dark tries to cram all of these various plot elements together and resolve them in the span of a few pages.

It just doesn't work and for people who were previously complaining that Dark tries too hard to mash too many plots into one area and ends up ping-ponging all over the place as a result, this will be a major issue. Some of the plot resolution just seems a little false, when you consider that some of these were built up to be awfully impossible to beat earlier in the book and they're resolved in about a page or so. It just rings a little hollow and I can't help but feel that while Dark is amazing at setting up a story and a great world, she doesn't seem to really have a handle on the endings. I can't help but feel that if maybe, just maybe she'd cut down on the long part in the middle about traveling to the past and/or used that to extend the ending and write it out a little more rather than resolving everything in about 30 pages, the book would have been that much stronger for it.

I liked the book for the most part, but ultimately I can't give this much more than three stars. This was a fizzle of an ending as opposed to the huge bang that I was hoping for. It's like expecting a Cherry Coke and someone gives you a Diet Pepsi. You might like Diet Pepsi, but it wasn't what you were expecting your server to supply. If you're eagerly awaiting the final book then I wouldn't say that you should avoid this book or only get it from the library. I would say that you should lower your expectations, as this doesn't really hold up to Demon Lover or Water Witch. I'd still check out Dark's other works, but with a little hesitation.

Three out of Five Stars

(ARC provided by Netgalley and Ballentine Books)