Friday, July 20, 2012

The Enchantress (Michael Scott)

Ugh. In my younger years, I had a real thing for fantasy. It's almost all I would ever read. Which is sad, because there are so many beautiful books out there that contain not a whit of magic or swordplay. The thing about fantasy books is that they often come in series. It's never enough to be one book with a self-contained adventure. It has to be three books, or five, or seven. And sometimes, it's okay. Usually it isn't, because what an author can accomplish in two or three books is bloated and dragged out over twice or three times as many books. And even when the series turns into a trainwreck, I feel obligated to finish what I've started. This is a perfect example.

The Enchantress is book six in Michael Scott's YA fantasy series The Secrets of the Immortal Nicholas Flamel. It's the final book, and so I don't really want to/am not sure that I can sum up the events of the previous five (here's the Wikipedia article for the first book with a pretty thorough plot summary), but here's my best effort. Imagine the modern world, except now some gods (Elders) and mythological beasts exist and have existed for a very long time. Throw in historical figures (the titular Nicholas Flamel, a famous alchemist you may know from Harry Potter; Joan of Arc; Shakespeare) that are granted immortality or gain it themselves by whatever means. Add a plot by some of these gods (the Dark Elders) to destroy the world we live in and allow their paradise of 10,000 years ago (Danu Talis AKA Atlantis) to continue on. Josh and Sophie, identical twins, discover that they are the "Twins of Legend" in a prophecy that says "one will save the world and one will destroy it".

I picked up the first book because (as I mentioned) I love fantasy, and I really enjoyed the idea of seeing famous people from history and mythological gods and goddesses. The first book was actually enjoyable, too. But as the series progressed, the books got worse and worse. The cast of characters grew unnecessarily large, to the point where I was having a hard time keeping track or empathizing with everyone. The story decided to become unnecessarily laden with plot twists. The writing is bad; this one wasn't a progressive problem, because I noticed all the way in book one how Scott likes to drop the same phrases, like "the angles and planes of [character's] face weren't quite human" or "they were speaking in a dialect that hadn't been heard on Earth for 300 years" over and over. This book in particular grated on me, and there was a laughably bad scene where a bunch of immortal humans (including Shakespeare) take turns reciting their favorite Shakespeare lines or monologues. I guess "yay" for trying to give your book some culture?

The book's climax features a lot of battle (and I hate written fight scenes, hence my distaste for Lord of the Rings), one of which ends in a bunch of deaths that are meaningless, partially because of the huge character cast I mentioned earlier and partially because they are at times illogical, and another that ends in an incredibly confusing manner ("suddenly this, and then this, and then suddenly this other thing SOMETHING IS HAPPENING BUT IT ISN'T EXPLAINED IT JUST HAPPENS and now the end"), but I'm not sure if I missed something or if something was left out (I know, this is the second review where I said that; I promise I'm usually a thorough reader). The only positive thing I have to say about the book is that, despite how annoyingly repetitive some of the phrasing is and despite the occasional lack of explanation, the book is quite the page turner.

If you're a big fan of fantasy and adventure, I think you'll really enjoy the series. Otherwise, this is definitely a safe skip.

My Rating: 1.5/5
The Enchantress on Goodreads
See what I've been reading lately!

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