Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Book Review: Daughter of Chaos by Jen McConnel

Title: Daughter of Chaos
Series: Red Magic #1
Author: Jen McConnel
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Synopsis:  There comes a time in every witch's life when she must choose her path. Darlena's friends have already chosen, so why is it so hard for her to make up her mind? Now, Darlena is out of time. Under pressure from Hecate, the queen of all witches, Darlena makes a rash decision to choose Red magic, a path no witch in her right mind would dare take. As a Red witch, she will be responsible for chaos and mayhem, drawing her deep into darkness. Will the power of Red magic prove too much for Darlena, or will she learn to control it before it's too late?

I was so excited to read this book. I love the idea of an exciting new fantasy series about magic. In particular this sounded like a very cool magical system. I mean chaos magic? How cool is that? Answer: VERY COOL! The book wasn't quite what I was expecting but that didn't take away from my enjoyment of the book.

First off my favorite thing about this book was the magical system and world. I read a lot of fantasy books and I have found that magic usually falls into two categories: ability to control the elements and ability to perform spells. What I loved about this system is that it didn't quite fall into either category. In this world at the age of sixteen witches have to decide between White, Black, or Green magic. Each course has particular roles and spheres that they can control. Each witch is also able to take a patron, a god or goddess that they swear allegiance to who helps guide them. To perform magic there are certain spells and powers but there is also a lot of meditation and rituals. It took more of a religious tact and felt very ancient in its beliefs. I thought it was very cool and creative and any time a character used magic in this world it very purposeful and interesting. I do wish that we got to explore a little more of Red Magic though but there are still two books to look forward to that aspect of the world.

I also really liked the characters in this book. First and foremost we have Darlena, our protagonist. She isn't quite the reluctant hero that I always love reading about but she was definitely reluctant to use her magic. She is incredibly reckless and rash as a character. She makes most of her decisions on a whim and then is forced to live with the consequences of not thinking anything through. I definitely empathized with her and her struggle to learn how to use her magic. There were also tons of interesting secondary characters. Her parents were very much involved, an oddity in YA lit, and they felt like such genuine parental figures that they reminded me of my parents more than one. I also really liked her friends Rochelle and Justin. They started off as being like kind of the devil and angel on Darlena's shoulder but as the book went on they had great character arcs.

But some of the best characters were the gods and goddesses. They're fighting for Darlena's patronage and are so interesting and complex. Hecate, the Queen of Witches, was totally sinister, Hades was a surprisingly sympathetic character, and even Aphrodite was complex and interesting. What I also liked was that it wasn't just the major Greek gods, lesser gods were involved and so were gods from different parts of the world that had something to do with chaos. Pele and the Hindu goddess Kali were both very cool and ominous.

As far as the storytelling, I thought the book was very well executed. The plot and pacing built to a thrilling conclusion and there were lots of surprising twists and turns that it kept things interesting and exciting. The book had an amazing ominous tone. Throughout most of the book I was waiting for everything to hit the proverbial fan and there was this nervous energy throughout most of the book. What surprised me most was that I didn't mind the "first book syndrome" policy of introducing small details that will become bigger parts of the plot later in this series. In Daughter of Chaos it felt more like it was foreshadowing and less like "clue-dumping" and sleight-of-hand maneuvers that always annoy me. The book was incredibly well-written and was a great start to a series that I know will only get better. I cannot wait for the next book!

I give Daughter of Chaos by Jen McConnel an 8.5 out of 10 

Fantasy fans should check this book out! I especially recommend this book to anyone looking for a new series about magic and witches or anyone who likes books that incorporate Greek mythology. If you have read Daughter of Chaos leave me a comment with your thoughts. Thanks for stopping and HAPPY READING!

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