Once again, I finished Lara’s book a while ago and am just catching up on some overdue reviews.
The Amazon blurb:
To keep her safe, twenty-six-year-old Hazel Michelli’s parents never told her she was adopted, or that her birthplace was in an alternative land where magic and monsters exist. She found out the truth the day a ferocious winged creature stole her from her Denver apartment and delivered her to Lucian, the sadistic Lifeforce magician who happens to be Hazel’s biological father.
“Dysfunctional family” takes on new meaning when she learns Lucian must sacrifice a daughter to maintain immortality and take over the Realm. When Hazel’s younger half-sister disappears just days before the Rite, Lucian moves Hazel to the top of the sacrificial short list.
Afraid, yet compelled to protect her four-year-old half-sister, Hazel races between both worlds, searching for Meara while being hunted by Lucian. Their lives, and the future of the Realm, leave her no room for failure.
At the outset of the novel, Hazel (love the name, by the way, unusual and old-fashioned, but made quirky by the character) only knows that she’s lucky, so dependably lucky that she makes a comfortable living by gambling. Then something huge and hulking bursts through the door of her apartment, calls her “Meara,” grabs Hazel, and leaps off the balcony, spreading its wings to fly her to a place she never suspected existed.
The action doesn’t relent as Hazel is taken prisoner by someone named Lucian, escapes (with the help of a talking bird and a flaming cat), finds her way back to Colorado, and reluctantly enlists her friend’s help. When an insect-like monster attacks them on the road, it is both a validation of Hazel’s bizarre story and a warning: Lucian isn’t finished with her yet.
Though unwilling to involve her parents in this strange series of events, Hazel has questions only they can answer. Those answers change Hazel’s life forever and send her on a worlds-spanning adventure, teaching her that her luck is only the tip of her magical iceberg, and that family is worth killing for, and dying for, if it comes to that.
The author weaves a great story, with just enough quirk to please the trope-weary reader. She moves between Boulder, Denver, and the Realm deftly, and has created a unique and charming world that both recalls childhood favourites, and provides enough romance and danger to satisfy the New Adult audience.
I also appreciate that despite the romantic potentials (small spoiler alert!), Hazel remains happily independent at the end of the novel. The denouement felt a little rushed, but was satisfying nonetheless.
Am eagerly awaiting Lara’s next novel 🙂
4 out of 5 stars. Really, I wanted to give her 4.5, but I had to give her some room to grow as an author 🙂
About the Author:
Lara Schiffbauer was born and raised in the Western United States. As a child she got in trouble at school for talking too much and daydreaming. She believed in Santa Claus until she was in the third grade, and thought she saw angels at the Catholic school she attended.
Unwilling to lose the magic of childhood, as a teenager she spent her years reading novels that let her live in fantasy worlds where she could vicariously experience the romance and adventure sadly lacking in her everyday life. Piers Anthony, Victoria Holt, and David Eddings were some of her favorite authors.
Many years later, after obtaining a Masters of Social Work degree and growing a family, Lara decided to recapture some of the magic found in creativity. In 2010, her horror flash fiction story “The Copier” was published in the anthology Daily Bites of Flesh 2011: 365 Days of Flash Fiction. In 2011, her erotic horror story “Phantom Deposit” was published in the anthology Steamy Screams, and in February 2012 her urban fantasy short story “Bear Hug” was published online at Hogglepot. She then turned to writing novels, and her first contemporary fantasy novel, Finding Meara, was released in March, 2013.
Lara loves connecting with others! Besides spending time on Twitter and Facebook, Lara also has accounts on Pinterest and Goodreads. All social media links can be found at her website, www.laraschiffbauer.com.