I had no idea what to expect when I was asked to review this book, but I was immediately drawn to its synopsis. Past lives? Warriors from another planet? Complicated romances? Umm, yes, yes, and yes please! This book did not disappoint; it pulled me in with its synopsis and took me on a delightful, fantastical ride.
Avery Kimball and her four best friends are just normal, average girls…or are they? The arrival of Gumptin, the short, bossy Wizard changes the lives of the girls forever. He informs them that they are actually from another planet, Oractia, where they were once Protector Warriors who were killed 16 years ago by the evil Emperor. The powerful Elementals placed their departed souls back within their mothers’ wombs and sent them to Earth to be reborn and live until they were ready to return to their home planet and protect it once again…flash forward to 16 years later when Gumptin appears and lays the truth on the girls. The five girls, having no memory of their past lives, must leave Earth and return to Orcatia where they retrain as Warriors and fight unimaginable creatures, while dealing with the drama that is teenagedom.
This book pulls you in immediately in the first few pages, plopping you right in the middle of the action. There’s nothing slow about this book; the story moves quickly with action packed scenes. I found it to be a real page turner, finishing in it in almost one (late night to wee hours in the morning) sitting. There are quite a few things about this book that I really love: the characters, the fantasy elements, and the creative twists on the well used “past lives/reborn” story line.
The five main characters are pretty awesome. They’re relatable, funny, and feel very real and organic in the way they talk; act; react. These are five girls that I can easily imagine living and breathing in the world somewhere…and would totally love to hang out with. I really love the way that, not only are the five girls individually unique and different from one another, they are also not simply carbon copies of their past selves. Dooling has created these five girls in such a way that there’s a refreshing distinction between who they once were and who they were allowed to become on Earth. I found each girl to be well developed and interesting, and I think no matter a reader’s personality, they will be able to connect and relate to at least one of the girls. I developed a genuine affection for all five girls by the end of the book and I was really invested in their characters, stories, and personal journeys.
The fantasy elements in this book- from Gumptin’s Wizard powers to the Protector’s connection to the elements to all the different creatures and beings to the planet Orcatia itself- are really delightful. The description of Havyn, the village where the girls live, and of Orcatia creates an image in my mind that reflects what I always pictured as the classic magical, fantasy world- with its vast and dense forests, castles, quaint villages that are reminiscent of the middle ages, charming and whimsical homes (they live in homes built inside trees, like the Berenstein Bears, which is beyond awesome to me!). The whole world Dooling has created just feels so enchanting.
But, I also like how the story isn’t all fantasy and whimsy. There are many really intense, violent action scenes as well. Dooling definitely doesn’t scrimp on the action packed, realistic, sometimes bloody fight scenes. And can I say just how awesome it is to read about not one, but FIVE butt kicking, female warriors. Talk about your girl power! But it’s not all fighting all the time. There’s definitely some budding romance blooming, and deliciously complicated, frustrating romance to boot.
There’s a lot of information explained in the earlier chapters, usually back story that is very much needed, which is given quick and mostly through dialogue. While I didn’t find these passages so, some readers may find them a bit overwhelming, so I recommend reading these sections slowly…and you’ll “just” what parts I’m referring to once who begin reading.
The ending sets up the next book nicely and I’m hooked. I really look forward to seeing where this series goes and I’ve really enjoyed being swept away into Dooling’s world. I love this book and definitely recommend reading it!