Another engaging urban fantasy that is both fresh and immediately accessible
This novel is the second in the series. As such this review might contain spoilers for Unelmoija: The Dreamshifter.
Amy is the daughter of one of the most feared killers among her people, the Weeia, required to keep her powers hidden from humans under pain of death; but she doesn’t see why that should stop her living an ordinary life. However, when her friend doesn’t come back from a night club, Amy discovers both another part of her past and that humans can be equally brutal as her father.
While it is perhaps somewhat ironic to mention plausibility when discussing fantasy, the Amy’s behaviour following her friend’s disappearance might strike some readers as out of character. Her initial decision to return to the nightclub rather than report the matter feels reasonable: she might have gone home with someone or other innocent reason for not returning, so it might be too soon to make a fuss; however, once there is evidence that something suspicious has happened, deciding to investigate herself with the aid of a Weeia friend rather than involve the authorities – while not utterly without reason – might feel more for the sake of the plot than a natural reaction to circumstance. Once this initial choice has passed, Amy’s continued involvement is, however, driven by entirely plausible motives and reactions.
With the majority of events occurring in human rather than Weeia society, the story is as much about Amy and those Weeia who agree to help her finding ways to use their powers without revealing their existence as it is about recovering her missing friend.
However, the novel also expands the magical world that Boca introduced in the previous book. Amy’s powers have developed in unexpected ways, giving her an unexpected advantage but also attracting the attention of both mysterious forces from her past and those who are concerned over the failure of many young Weeia to develop powers at all.
As with the first volume in the series, the narration has a slight tendency to list people’s clothing and appearance in detail, especially toward the start of the book; as such, the opening might give a false impression of what is a fast-paced story.
Similarly, the reader is presented with the occasional somewhat objective narration of certain past events; but – unlike in the previous book – these are fewer and usually come in direct response to present events, reducing the sense of a narrator providing a history lesson.
Freed of the soliloquies Boca used to set the scene in the first volume, Amy presents as a sympathetic – if somewhat naïve – protagonist. Despite the potential trauma of being a kidnap victim with a hated executioner for the father, she is not prone to fits of moping, making those moments when events do push her hard times readers root for her rather than recall that she has brought it upon herself by becoming a vigilante.
The supporting cast are – as with the previous novel – well-crafted and diverse, with powers and skills seeming parts of a coherent whole rather than bolted on for interest or convenience.
I enjoyed this novel. I recommend it to readers looking for a fresh and engaging take on urban fantasy.
Dave Higgins, speculative fiction author
(see it and other reviews on his website at https://davidjhiggins.wordpress.com/2017/02/17/unelmoija-the-mindshifter-by-elle-boca/)