Sunday, August 8, 2010

firespell by chloe neill; another clichéd young adult urban fantasy novel

The latest Young Adult supernatural series to take off is The Dark Elite by Chloe Neill, with Firespell the first book to be published. 
Set in Chicago, the story follows teenager Lily Parker as she's sent off to boarding school while her parents head to Italy for a research posting of some sort. 
Lily is bemused but resigned to her new life until she discovers that her new BFF (Best Friend Forever), a girl called Scout who's been at the school her whole life, is sneaking out of their dorm and staying out all night.
Naturally Lily decides to follow her, only to discover that Scout isn't just her new friend, she's also part of a magic wielding group of teens who chase down and destroy monsters in the tunnels under the city.
So far, so typical. And unfortunately, that's about all that can be said for Firespell.
It's not terribly written, the characters are solid, believable teenagers – although the 'in' crowd of girls seem plucked from any angsty movie – there's something going on with the headmistress – who may or may not know what the kids are up to – and the plot's premise – you can only use your magic until you're 25, otherwise you begin to suck the life from others and become evil – isn't too clichéd.
However, the assumption of Lily accepting magic without a nervous breakdown, the seeming unconcern of adults about kids risking their lives every day, the placing of the story in a boarding school and the automatic success of these kids in getting the baddies, is all a bit trite. It reads like an American version of Harry Potter – and not in a good way.
Basically Firespell is yet another in a long line of recent series for Young Adults spiced with a bit of the supernatural. There's nothing really new going on – at least not yet. Perhaps the series will mature; but with such weak underpinnings, I doubt it.

Firespell by Chloe Neill is published by Gollancz and is available from good book stores and online.


David A. Bedford said...

Mine is not sci-fi or fantasy. But if you're looking for something fresh and different, you may like it. If interested, please visit my blog. Thanks!

jane gallagher said...

nice review. i sadly have to aagree. i love chloe neill's chicagoland vampires series so i had high hopes for firespell. but the plot was boring and i didn't really feel a connection to the characters...not the way i did with merit, ethan, mallory & the gang of chicagoland. oh well.

niki said...

Thanks for your comments; much appreciated.
@jane ... I haven't had a chance to read the previous work; have to say that this book read like a first work, which is odd considering she's already well-published.
@david ... always interested in something new :) ... please add your link!

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