Disclaimer: I received a copy of this title from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This has in no way affected my opinion of the book.
So, I did my regular old milarky of accepting a review book without even reading the blurb again. However, there is nothing quite like the feeling when you know you’ve opened the pages into a land of something pretty special. Because Relic just seemed so fresh to me. It’s unique to other books I’ve read lately. It’s original. And the characters? Man, the characters are great.
Young Maggie leads the way in Relic, and from the off we connect with her—how can one not as she witnesses a fire destroy her home, followed by her brother’s sacrifice so she and her sister can be rescued by an Apache and live, and she suspects her parents are ravaged by the same fire that has stolen her life. And all this happens within the first few pages. This is such a powerful opening, ensuring young Maggie has our attention, our empathy, and our hearts, and demands we sit up and want to fight her corner. And she does a great job of clinging tight to us the entire way through. From one catastrophe to another, Maggie faces challenge after challenge and trial after trial, the overcoming of each one seeming to lead her to the next. Even when a potential love interest is woven in, Maggie is challenged—though that’s mostly by herself, her naivety and insecurities.
Landon is an AWESOME cowboy. He’s cute. He’s flawed. He’s pretty ‘real’, and I enjoyed his company easily as much as Maggie did—and possibly more. However, he’s not the only male on the scene, and the reader is left confused about that—not so much who she might be wooed by, but with whom she’s meant to end up.
Because there’s the Apache, who is equally as awesome as Landon, and with a much deeper and meaningful connection to Maggie, which the reader has a tough time trying to interpret. I mean, even once it all comes to light and that element of the story unfolds, it’s difficult to tell just how ‘deep’ a connection there is between Maggie and him, and on what level they’re meant to be drawn together.
And then we also have rich dude, who shouldn’t even pay the likes of Maggie any mind but is being ‘charitable’ to her from the off: Alvar. From the get-go, the reader doesn’t quite know what to make of him. Is he genuine? Isn’t he? Does he want more from Maggie? Or is he honest in his intents? He sends off so many mixed signals—for good reason—that I don’t think even he knows whether he’s coming or going. And Alvar keeps you guessing right up to the very end—because he is one of the best mysteries to be unfolded within this book.
Which brings us to the plot. It was, in a nutshell, great. The intricate weavings and tightly tucked in threads, and the twists and turns and surprises, and betrayals and lies and deceit, and the so-greatly-portrayed characters that anybody could be behind the burnings—all of this keeps the reader turning those pages with an eagerness to discover exactly where we’re all being taken.
My only complaints regarding Relic are: 1) I wasn’t sure completely of the world building. Like: is it set in an evolved version of our own world? Because it appears to be (though I’m not from the US to recognise if the places were real). But, then, if it’s set in our world, what time period is it set in. Or has the author taken complete creative license on this front? Although not knowing this didn’t really stop me enjoying the story, I did keep pondering from time to time, and it would have been better if that was completely clear. And 2) I wasn’t wholly sure for a little while on Maggie’s age. By the time I noticed her age mentioned, I’d been reading a while. If it was mentioned prior to that, it wasn’t done so prominently enough to embed in my brain. And I had trouble grasping her age. In parts, she seemed a little older than she was meant to be. I understand that dramatic circumstances in a life can force a person into maturity, but she seemed mature from the off, rather than growing into that. I think I wanted a little more of her naivety to show through—especially regarding certain aspects of the book that would be considered inappropriate, in this day and age even, for a 16 year old to be around (because it was like none of the laws of our world today applied in this created version of it). But, again, this only stalled me for minor ponderings and didn’t exactly mar my reading pleasure.
Anyway, those small gripes aside, I truly am greatly looking forward to the second instalment. I mean, more cowboys, and Wild West type scenery, and action, and legacy, love, loss, and betrayal, and magic, PLUS a fantasy-like feel to the writing that flows with little trouble? Dude, sign me up.