4 of 5 stars to ‘Frostfire’ by Amanda Hocking

Frostfire

Great expectations

Half Kanin, half Skojare, Bryn Aven is pretty much an outcast in a class conscious society. Yet nothing will keep her from working toward her dream of joining the prestigious King’s guard. Then she runs into Konstantin, the man who tried to kill her father. Bryn becomes embroiled in a dangerous mystery as Konstantin begins kidnapping the Kanin changelings. Part of her wants revenge against Konstantin, but other part can’t help wondering if there isn’t a bigger game at play.

I’m a huge fan of the troll fantasy world that Hocking has created. Every aspect of their society, politics and physics intrigues me. This novel is no exception as Hocking delves deeper into the stark differences between the Kanin and Skojare tribes. Hocking gets five stars for her believable, magical fantasy world creation. I had great expectations following the Trylle trilogy, but have to admit that this one didn’t quite live up to those expectations.

The characters were interesting, but not riveting. They lacked the passion of the Trylle characters, and seemed a little too reserved in many respects. Character development was not clear cut. There was one particular scene where Hocking switched from past tense to present tense, and I found this quite jarring. The ending too, was not fulfilling. While I personally enjoy cliff-hangers, I felt that there needed to be some kind of resolution, either personal or plot-related to round off the novel.

I was entertained and am still an Amanda Hocking fan, but I’m on the fence about continuing this series…

5 of 5 stars to ‘Ascend’ by Amanda Hocking

Ascend

Enchanting end

Wendy thought she still had plenty of time to train and learn the way of the Trylle, but her mother knows she doesn’t. As Elora weakens, she tries to prepare her daughter to become queen. The new queen will not only face the prospect of war, but she will have to choose between her heart and her duty. Can she reconcile the two?

Aahhh! It all makes sense now! I must admit that I wasn’t too thrilled with the turn of events in book two, and the resolution wasn’t quite what I expected in book three, but it was satisfying. I enjoyed that Hocking didn’t go with the expected and she even managed to throw in some relevant societal issues and moral lessons in a fun way.

There was a lot more depth and emotion in this installment. I especially loved seeing the softer side of Elora. Watching Wendy come into her own and realize that she could be self-sufficient, seeing Loki try to be protective and yet understand that Wendy was strong enough to stand alone – these are some of the highlights I particularly enjoyed.

The magic was still there, although with a decidedly darker taint than the first two novels. I struggled with the end a little, but only because of personally preference. I generally like the author to leave a bit to my imagination, but Hocking wrapped up every thread very tightly.

I’ve thoroughly enjoyed this series and love the author’s writing style. I’ll definitely seek out more of her works. I also have to say that I LOVE the covers of these books – they are enchanting and magical!

4 of 5 stars to ‘Torn’ by Amanda Hocking

Torn

Kidnapping and love triangle

In the space of a few weeks, Wendy’s life has been turned upside down. She’s discovered that the family she grew up with all her life were never really hers, and the one from which she comes has more secrets and politics than she can stand. To top it all off, she’s fallen in love with her tracker, Finn, who’s strictly off limits, and she’s already been in more than one battle with the Vittra, who are determined to kidnap her. Overwhelmed, Wendy flees to her one constant in life, her brother Matt.

Removed from the protection of her tribe, Wendy becomes easy pickings for the Vittra. But she soon discovers that there is more to the story than her queen mother has told her. And then there is Loki, her captor, the Vittra prince. He is nothing like she expects and Wendy finds herself drawn to him.

Will the Trylle be able to rescue Wendy from the hands of the Vittra? Will Wendy finally get to the bottom of this century long feud between the two tribes?

The magical world of the Trylle has captivated me. I love the powers, abilities, and even the messed up politics of this world that Hocking has created. The characters are believable, strong but with just the right amount of teenage vulnerability.

While I enjoyed this installment, I must admit to a little disappointment. Book one set up so much thrilling passion and conflict between Finn and Wendy, and I expected Hocking to take the stakes up in their forbidden relationship. Book 2, however, doesn’t seem to move their conflict any further. Hocking focuses on the introduction and build up of a connection between Loki and Wendy. While I do find Loki’s character charming and funny, the link between him and Wendy doesn’t seem quite as believable or exciting. There were also certain plot points that seemed out of place or out of character. The whole escape scene seems unlikely in the face of the Vittra’s efforts to kidnap Wendy.

Yet…I still admit to being curious and wanting to read more. What is the cause of this feud? What will happen to the queen? Will Wendy harness her power? Will the love triangle resolve itself and result in a happy ending, or will the character’s sense of duty force them into loveless, passionless decisions? I guess there’s only one way to find out!

5 of 5 stars to ‘Switched’ by Amanda Hocking

Switched

Charming, magical fairytale

Wendy Everly has never belonged. Her school mates seem repulsed by her, the teachers pick on her and even her own mother tried to kill her at the age of six. So when the new guy, Finn Holmes takes an interest in her, she’s flattered – and confused. She soon discovers that there is more to his attention than meets the eye. Finn has been sent to find Wendy and bring her home, into a whole new world she never knew she was a part of. It’s a world full of magic, intrigue, danger, forbidden love and politics; a world Wendy’s not so sure she really wants to be a part of.

I’ve had this novel on my Kindle for a while now and wish I’d read it sooner. This is my kind of story. It’s a magical fairytale in a modern setting, with just the right amount of danger, romance and suspense. It’s the kind of story you can really get lost in. The kind of story you dream about.

Finn’s character is intense, yet tempered by duty and diligence. Wendy’s character is less collected, as teenage girls often are, highly emotional, impulsive and yet with a certain level-headed maturity that gets her through confrontations that would have most teens falling apart.

Hocking’s writing is not overly poetic or filled with ambiguous figures of speech. It is simple and neat, showcasing a well-planned and executed story without unnecessarily pretty prose. The plot, while predictable at times, is engaging and leaves you with a rather pleasant aftertaste that begs for more. This is genre writing at it’s best – it’s exactly what you would expect from a young adult series, and yet unique and charming enough to make the author’s name a fixture on your reading list.

I can’t wait to find out more about what’s in store for Wendy and Finn!