250 pages, Pyr
Paperback, $12.58, Kindle $8.69
Widdershins, the queen of snark and bad choices, is back. It has been six months since her last hair-raising adventure in the city of Davillon. In her travels, she has discovered a plot by a noble house to make a move against another house. I doubt this would normally bother her except the target house is the last bastion of the Delacroix house—the same house that her adopted father belonged to. These relatives are distant, but to honor the memory of her adopted father, Shins, as she is often called, sets out to thwart the plot and protect the last of her adopted bloodline. To do this, she must travel to a small town on the edge of the nation, where she must derail the plot and find out who is behind it. To complicate matters, she learns that not only is the rival house involved, but a criminal organization is working against the target house as well.
This fantasy tale of teen angst is the kind of rollercoaster ride that both young adults and not so young adults can enjoy. This is the first book in this series that I have read, but it didn’t take me long to figure out that if there were a wrong place to be, Widdershins would be in it. If a wrong thing could be said, she would say it, and if a really bad course of action to take presented itself, she would take it. I believe Marmell held a séance with a few deceased teen girls, because he really captured the spirit of how a teen girl might think. I am the proud father of two teen girls (I’m proud because at 18 and 16 I still like them as people—as a parent you always love them, but normally the “like” part seldom happens at those ages), and while I would never presume to say I understand how a teenaged female mind works, some of Widdershins’ reactions to situations were spot on.
This book, while action-packed, was still filled with interesting and witty dialogue and complex relationships. Well, complex for a teen girl. To me, the idea teen angst is more modern, but this is a fantasy novel, so why not? There were several times when reading Lost Covenant that I had to facepalm myself and where I wanted to scream “WTF, Shins, what were you thinking!” until I remembered that she reacted much more often than she actually thought—yet another behavior that one might expect from a teen.
I don’t know how Widdershins got hold of a god, but she did and she carries that god with her—it often aids her in her endeavors. She speaks to the god and, rather than getting verbal responses, she receives a type of emotional feedback. Marmell has written books for Dungeons & Dragons, and I feel like Widdershins’ interaction with her personal god is similar to the empathic link that a wizard and his or her familiar might have. The fact that Widdershins often verbalized her part of the conversations with her god added to her already quirky personality. Widdershins is definitely a character who follows her heart rather than her head, and it was refreshing to see that. Yes, following her heart was the major cause of my facepalm moments, but she stayed true to her character throughout the book.
The action sequences were intense and frenetic. When it hit the fan in this book, it hit hard and fast. Widdershins’ swordsmanship skills, combined with enhancements from her personal god and her complete lack of logical and calculated thought, provided some action sequences that I have never read before. I did see some growth in her character toward the end, but I think a major part of Widdershins’ appeal is that she is a teen girl, not a young lady caught in adult situations.
This book is listed as a young adult novel, but I would safely say it is for the older young adults. There is a bit of coarse language, but it is rare and, for the most part, well placed. Let’s face it—the young adults in your life are hearing much worse words from their friends or on TV. I think I remember there being one F bomb dropped, and while it was appropriate, I felt like this would be a word that would keep parents from putting this book in a young reader’s hands. I figure why go R when you can do PG 13 really well.
Lost Covenant is an exercise in excitement, well-crafted word play, and good ol’ teen angst, all wrapped up in a world that is just fantastic enough to make readers forget where they are and what they should be doing in the real world.