I picked this up at the Audible.com sale for a fun read, even though it is book 5 of a series. I enjoyed it and it fit what I was looking for, and I don’t think that coming in late was a problem.
The best part of this book was the magical world presented. It’s an alternate history, set in England in a past much like ours. There was a world of elemental mages, with the power to control an element and the magical creatures associated with that sphere, and those with more psychic gifts– like speaking with the dead as well as various battle related skills. There were enough details to make it rich without growing tedious. The magic tied into mythology, bringing in The Snow Queen, Robin Goodfellow and the Wild Hunt, among other references.
The characters were also interesting, particularly David Alderscroft. He’s a basically good guy being lured by the pull of power, led by a mentor who is much more than she appears. He has the potential to wield enormous influence and power, but has to decide what’s important to him.
Isabelle Harton also had an intriguing story, linked long ago with David’s. After their relationship ended, she went to India, and found her husband. Together they have built a very satisfying life, including a school for children of British citizens living abroad– particularly those with magical talents of the non-elemental variety.
At the center of the action are two very talented young girls, attending the Harton School. I had a problem when reading that if their age was given in the first part of the book, I missed it. If I’d been reading a print version I would have gone back to check, but that’s much harder when listening. I kept trying to guess, and my estimates ranged from 8/10 to 15/17. I did figure it out (11/13), but I think I would have liked the book better if they had been older. As it was, it felt more like events were happening to them, and they weren’t mature enough to make good decisions about their involvement.
I’m planning to go back and fill in earlier books in the series. I don’t think they are particularly tightly linked, but I’d like to explore this world a little more.
Production: I didn’t have any issues with it, but it didn’t bring anything extra to the book.
Print vs. Audio: Whatever is more convenient. I don’t think the audio added to or detracted from the experience.