Wednesday, 11 July 2018

A Flicker of Steel

A Flicker of Steel

by Steve McHugh

3.5 out of 5

Avalon stands revealed, but the war is far from over. For Layla Cassidy, it has only just begun.

Thrust into a new world full of magic and monsters, Layla has finally come to terms with her supernatural powers—and left her old life behind. But her enemies are relentless.

Sixteen months after her life changed forever, Layla and her team are besieged during a rescue attempt gone awry and must fight their way through to freedom. It turns out that Avalon has only grown since their last encounter, adding fresh villains to its horde. Meanwhile, revelations abound as Layla confronts twists and betrayals in her own life, with each new detail adding to the shadow that looms over her.

As Layla fights against the forces of evil, her powers begin to increase—and she discovers more about the darkness that lies in her past. As this same darkness threatens her future, will she be ready to fight for everything she holds dear?

With the whole of Avalon against her, and several contesting spirits in her psyche, Layla has her work cut out. What she doesn't need is the return of her serial-killer father in her life.

I received a free copy in exchange for an honest review.

This is the second book in the Avalon series, and I wish I had started with the first book first, because I was left feeling out of the loop on a lot of the references to the history of the characters. That being said, it was still an enjoyable story and easily pulled you along on a new adventure, so I didn't feel like I'd missed out too much.

So this story follows Layla and her friends/colleagues, as they fight back against King Arthur (cool twist - he's the bad guy), and his minions. Mostly the minions. There's some significant magic-users that want to cause Layla & co as much pain as possible, whilst they retrieve her father.

I really liked the character of Layla's dad, he is surprisingly complex. He used to be in the FBI, and was considered a good guy, until they discovered he was a serial killer. After a few years in jail, painted as one of the most evil men on the planet, he is calm and cool, and can't understand why people are upset by the blood on his hands.
He really stood out for me in this cast of characters.

What this book does well, it does really well.
The action scenes are awesome, and they definitely get the adrenaline going.
Kinda linked with that, Layla's friends are a diverse cast of creatures, humans and empowered people. I want to find a way to put it professionally, but come on, it's so much fun to have a supernatural brawl!

The not-so-good.
There is a huge cast of characters and, despite the fact they're all various manner of spirit, werewolf, demon, witch, mythical figure etc, none of them stood apart (except Daddy Cassidy).
May be it would have been different if I'd read A Glimmer of Hope first, and got to know some of these charries; but I felt thrown in the deep end, and couldn't keep track of any of them. I couldn't even remember which were the bad guys and good guys, and had to skim back to work out why X was torturing Y, and why I should care about it.
The third-person narration drifts between characters, even within the same paragraph, so I often lost track of whose point of view I was dealing with.

There is also a lot of posturing and explanations in this book, which I felt slowed the whole thing down.
I quickly got bored of "Bad Guy" standing and stating all their intentions, and giving every detail. It left nothing to the imagination.
The other characters, including Layla, spend a lot of time laboriously going over every detail of who, what and why. Every thought is over-thought, and over-explained. I thought it could have easily been condensed into something smoother and shorter.

Overall, this was a 3.5 out of 5 for me. I would be interested in reading the rest of the series, as I think it has some great ideas.

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