Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Witchvine (Justin Sullivan and Samuel Sullivan)

(The Rhyme of the Willow series, Book 3)
Justin Sullivan and Samuel Sullivan
Fiction, YA Fantasy
*** (Okay)

DESCRIPTION: Since coming to the Garden, Axton and Aniva Rhyme have changed in ways they couldn't have imagined. Both have become Wilds, humans altered by the strange and dangerous plants of this world... and both have been part of the turmoil sweeping the Lighthavens, where untainted humans live fearing and hating Wilds. After the disaster in Fire Grove that left much of the council dead, Axton and Aniva have been separated. Axton, tainted by the Green Witch and her "gift" of Witchvines, heads back to Linnea, his first friend and guardian in the Garden. Aniva, meanwhile, returns to the Crows, who are planning a fresh assault on the humans and their Lighthavens; as both a Crow and a Blood Demon, she's become a valuable weapon, but every mindless killing frenzy makes her feel more like a monster. Meanwhile, the Green Witch is up to something, teasing Axton with glimpses of Ivan Rhyme, the siblings' long-lost father. Everything is heading for a cataclysmic event, one that may shake the Garden to its roots. Will the Rhymes survive, or is it already too late?

REVIEW: The final installment of the imaginative Rhyme of the Willow trilogy starts as if it weren't a separate book... and this is a bit of a problem. There's no chance to catch up or even let the reader catch their breath as it plunges ahead into the growing chaos and tension sweeping the Garden. This wouldn't be an issue if there had been no gap between reading the previous two installments and this one - but there was, and I never shook the feeling that I was just reading a part of a larger story, that I was missing significant connections that had dimmed with the passage of time. The breakneck pace and many characters worked against me, here.
That said, it does move decently, finally bringing the Rhyme parents into the picture. Aniva and Axton have both changed, not simply physically, during their adventures. It builds up to a tense finale... but then things start falling apart, with some side-stepping, a bit of an eye-rolling revelation, and a solution that, given the trauma and bloodshed and death endured during the trilogy, felt far too clean and quick, not to mention a trifle forced. This feeling, plus the sense that the trilogy itself was unnaturally presented (it really felt like one story roughly cropped into three installments), ultimately lost it the fourth star in the ratings.
All in all, the Rhyme of the Willow trilogy gets points for imagination and intensity, worth exploring if you want a portal fantasy with some threat and substance, if one with a bit of an abrupt end.

You Might Also Enjoy:
The Divide (Elizabeth Kay) - My Review
Shadowbloom (Justin Sullivan and Samuel Sullivan) - My Review
Birthright Volume 1: Homecoming (Joshua Williamson and Andrei Bressan) - My Review

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