jpskewedthrone: (Vacant)
Covenant's End is the fourth and final book in the Widdershins Adventures by Ari Marmell. These are young adult books, although I didn't know this when I bought the first book. I can see why they're classified as YA, although I don't think that's a label they should necessarily be stuck with. I enjoyed them all (even if I felt that one of them wasn't quite in line with the other three).





The premise of this final book is that Widdershins is returning to Davillon, after fleeing (and yes, she finally admits that she fled) and spending some time away from "home." She thinks it's going to be grand coming home, meeting up with old friends, and picking up her life where she left off. But while she's been gone, some of her old enemies have banded together and made a few unnatural allies, and they've been waiting for her return. Even before she reaches the city, Widdernshins realizes that she isn't going to receive the homecoming she thought . . . and that her friends are in as much danger as she is.

This was a great final chapter in Widdershins' adventures. She needed to return home again, not just because of the threads hinting of it in earlier books, but because she needed to face herself and what had happened to her in the city. As Ari Marmell states himself, she needed to grow up. She thought she'd left the city after a previous adventure because it would be safer for her friends, but she really simply fled. Because of fear, because of the deaths of some of her friends, brought about by her own actions, and because she wasn't ready to face those emotions and that responsibility. But after her time away (which is the book that I don't feel fits the general thread of the series; sort of an odd man out), she's had enough time to realize that she's been lying to herself about why she left and she's now ready to face the truth.

And this is why I feel these books are so good. The main character is what carries you through them. You genuinely like Widdershins and are more than willing to go along with her adventures because of who she is, who she wants to be, and her overall spunk and fighting spirit. The books would not have worked so well without her. I don't think they would have worked at all. It's her--and her relationship with her omnipresent god as a sidekick--that keeps the books moving and keeps you reading. The world itself is more or less a basic fantasy world--medieval in nature. The supernatural elements that make it fantasy are classic as well; fae creatures with vicious natures and hideous powers. It's Widdershins that firmly roots the reader into the books. It's her uniqueness that keeps you reading.

This book brings the series to an obvious conclusion and rounds out the series well. All of the elements of the first two books return, along with all of the Widdershins friends, the elements set up in the previous books coming together in a nice plot. Would I have liked to have seen more Widdershins' books in the future? Yes. Would it have been wise to continues the series beyond these books? No. This is where the series should end. Taking it any further would have been dragging a dead body behind the horse.

So, a nice, pleasant little series that I encourage everyone to read. You'll enjoy the world, you'll enjoy the plots, you'll enjoy the rather dark supernatural creatures Widdershins is forced to face (for most of the books), and more importantly you'll enjoy Widdershins herself.
jpskewedthrone: (Vacant)
Lost Covenant is the third book in Ari Marmell's Widdershins series. I really enjoy this series, possibly because the set-up is similar to my own book The Skewed Throne, with a young rogue-ish girl with morals living in the slums of the city who gets caught up in events far beyond her standing. My book is a little darker in nature (aimed for the adult crowd), while Ari's is aimed more toward the YA market though.





In any case, the premise of this book is that Widdershins has fled the city of Davillon after her last altercation and its consequences, afraid that her presence is endangering all of those she loves. While away, she stumbles over a plot to destroy the Delacroix family. Since Alexandre Delacrois was the nobleman who took her in from the slums and cared for her, she attempts to unravel the plot and save the remnants of her adopted father's relatives. Except none of them trust her. She'll have to convince them her intentions are good while at the same time stopping the criminal underground from killing her . . .

As I said, I enjoy Widdershins, mostly because of her character and especially because of her relationship with the god Olgun. The banter between these two keeps the pace moving along swiftly and brings lighter elements to some of the darker parts of the book. I will admit that it takes some settling in to get used to Widdershins and her conversational style when you start one of her books, but once you adjust, she invariably makes you grin. There are darker moments in the books, as Widdershins deals with the darker side of human nature and how ugly it can get, but her basic morality keeps the reader grounded.

This book was interesting in comparison to the previous two, because the bad guys weren't all that supernatural in nature. The biggest nod in that direction was the alchemy (which I haven't spoiled because they mention it in the cover copy of the book). The criminals are just that--criminals, with no real supernatural element to them. This non-supernatural aspect made this book less terrifying than the previous one (where the bad guy was damn creepy), but it was also refreshing. I found the final twist as to what they really intended gruesome and believable and a cool twist on alchemy.

And there was a subplot woven through everything that is not resolved here and is obviously intended as a hook into the next book. I won't spoil that, but it certainly makes me wish the next book were out now.

Overall, a solid book. Not as good as the previous one (but mostly because it wasn't as dark, and I like dark). Widdershins continues to grow, and I feel that this book was a nice breather in her adventures, before she returns and faces what was so obviously set up as her next challenge in the next book.
jpskewedthrone: (Default)
For those YA fans out there, here's a new novel to check out from Ari Marmell: Thief's Covenant: A Widdershins Novel.





Once she was Adrienne Satti. An orphan of Davillon, she had somehow escaped destitution and climbed to the ranks of the city's aristocracy in a rags-to-riches story straight from an ancient fairy tale. Until one horrid night, when a conspiracy of forces-—human and other—-stole it all away in a flurry of blood and murder.

Today she is Widdershins, a thief making her way through Davillon's underbelly with a sharp blade, a sharper wit, and the mystical aid of Olgun, a foreign god with no other worshippers but Widdershins herself. It's not a great life, certainly nothing compared to the one she once had, but it's hers.

But now, in the midst of Davillon's political turmoil, an array of hands are once again rising up against her, prepared to tear down all that she's built. The City Guard wants her in prison. Members of her own Guild want her dead. And something horrid, something dark, something ancient is reaching out for her, a past that refuses to let her go. Widdershins and Olgun are going to find answers, and justice, for what happened to her—but only if those who almost destroyed her in those years gone by don't finish the job first.

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Joshua Palmatier

March 2017

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