Marked: A Two Halves Novella

Rated 3.00/5 based on 1 reviews
Xander is a shapeshifter. Stuck between good and evil, he waits to be marked—with the sphere that will identify him as a servant of the underworld; or with the water mark, serving the keepers. His twin sister, in love with a man bearing the water mark, wants Xander to follow the path of the good. But Xander is in love with a witch of the underworld. All he has to do to join her,is kill. More
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About Marta Szemik

Marta lives with her husband and two kids in Cambridge, Ontario. A great skier (in her kids eyes), she loves the outdoors and quiet mornings on the porch with a cup of coffee. She can often be found daydreaming new worlds in front of her computer. She has a sarcastic sense of humor and those very, very close to her know that she can make a joke out of almost anything>But she would suck as a comedian.

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Review by: Alysa H on March 21, 2013 :
I won a copy of Two Halves in Elle Casey's January Anniversary Indie Book Giveaway, and the author encouraged me to read this book, Marked, first.

As far as I can tell, Marked was released after Two Halves, as a "prequel", but the author retroactively decided to make it "Book 1" because, though significantly shorter, it takes place first, chronologically speaking.

I did actually like Marked better than Two Halves, as it revolves around that book's secondary characters who are far more interesting than its leads, and I may not have bothered to read Marked if I had started with Two Halves (which I did not like very much).

That being said, part of me still wishes that I had started with Two Halves. A "prequel" by definition works best when performing it's proper function: to deepen one's understanding of (and hopefully appreciation for) events and characters that you already know from the initial "main work". If you start the series with Marked, it will not perform that function. Also, you'll be spoiled for some of the better twists and turns in Two Halves!

But I do want to talk about Marked on its own merits!
There are some intriguing ideas here about shapeshifting and identity, choices and destiny. I quite liked Mira and Xander as characters, though I wish the author had used them to play more with ideas about gender and gender roles, rather than playing it super safe by keeping them locked into stereotypical gendered positions and behaviors (Two Halves has similar problems).

The events in this novella also have a kind of epic sweeping quality that make it seem like they should take place over a long period of time, rather than basically one or two days: For example, Xander's grand love for a woman just is, rather than being given time to prove true. Nothing is earned, it just is.

Apart from that, Marked is a nicely written, short bit of escapist fantasy, and I must grudgingly admit that the author is savvy to promote it [free] as a gateway into the series simply because it's the better book between the two, and will therefore result in more people buying the next one.
(review of free book)

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