I received a review copy from the publisher through NetGalley.
Raelia is the second novel in the Medoran Chronicles series, following the release of Akarnae. I reviewed the first novel a couple of months ago, and I recall that I distinctly did not like it, but was willing to give the author a second go, to see whether anything had improved. I recall that I was thoroughly dissatisfied by the Harry Potter-ness of the first book, the story of a ‘Chosen’ one – literally and figuratively – who is dragged off to a secret magic school in a parallel universe.
I had hoped that the author might have found a way of moving past this cliched beginning, but instead she seemed to double down. I will admit that the comparisons with Harry Potter have definitely been toned down, but I don’t think the plot structure has improved as a result. Early on in reading this novel, I labelled this book as “Alex in Blunderland” as she seems to blunder from one screw up to the next, in a series of unfortunate events. Again she is burdened with the problems of being just such a perfect student… *vomits* and all of the mysterious mysteriousness seems to work out very conveniently in her favour.
Alex is such a Mary Sue that it just makes me ill, and what makes it worse is that the author seems to have gone out of her way to rob Alex of any agency whatsoever. For a main character, she is remarkably passive in the increasingly-tense events which are going on around her. She is escorted to this magical kingdom, escorted to that party, escorted to… well, practically everywhere.
As I said in my review of the previous novel, I felt that the stories of the other characters in the novel were much better formed, and far more interesting than that of our Main Character. I felt that the relationships between them was better handled, and the characters of her friends were well-fleshed out, but some of them seemed to disappear off-page for no apparent reason. There were some interesting moments of teenage sexual tension between the characters, although I thought there was something between Alex and her roommate, but apparently I misread that at the end of the last book, because… nothing.
And then there’s the issue of the parents… For reasons not immediately apparent, Alex has brought them from the ‘real’ world, for want of a better name, through to Medora, and abandons them somewhere at the beginning of the novel. They then barely rate a mention, apart from a brief mention in the middle, and later Alex considers visiting them, but blows them off to hang out with her friends for the holidays.
In the end, I felt that this was more teenage schoolgirl romance than high fantasy. It exists in a space which is already overloaded, and does not do enough to distinguish itself from other similar stories, and lacks an inspiring main character actually capable of driving their own story forward. I’ve given this author two bites at the cherry, but I won’t be going back for a third time.
Weighing up its pros and cons, I would rate it the same as its predecessor, although for slightly different reasons.