Author David Higgins completed the final book in the Unelmoija Series. Below, with his permission, is his review.
Unelmoija: Paradox by Elle Boca
Boca balances the mutability of the past with temporal inertia to create a time-travel story that is neither burdened with the irrevocable nor rendered insipid by the opportunity to redo things until they are right.
This book is the fifth in Boca’s Weeia series. Potential spoilers for previous volumes ahead.
Convinced that Amy’s father, Thomas McKnight, is responsible for the death of his father, Klaus threatens to blow up a nuclear reactor and expose the Weeia unless he is handed over immediately. Still reeling from the death of her mother, Amy attempts to use her timeshifting powers to discover the truth. With both Klaus and McKnight having memories of places and events that never happened, it is clear the past has changed. But what is the true past and will trying to restore it do more damage than good?
As with the previous volume in the series, the narration is full of explanations and short reprises of past events. While this does not create an overwhelming feeling of objective reportage—and might even assist readers who have not read the previous books recently—readers who prefer a more immersive point-of-view might find these ‘speeches to camera’ distancing.
In contrast, the other half of the narration—that of fresh events—is mostly free of these expositions, maintaining a greater sense of tension and subjectivity.
The plot is an engaging take on time travel: building on the idea that the past can be changed but only with risk that she introduced in Timeshifter, Boca provides the reader with character statements and images of history that do not all fully fit together, along with clear signs that both key figures in the inciting incident are suffering symptoms of having been affected by a change in their timeline. This evidence of at least two different pasts both undermines the reader’s usual certainty that if one person is telling the truth another is lying and conceals the original past, making judging the cost of restoring it (or not) more of a gamble.
Unfortunately, these threads do not explain why Klaus waited as long as he did to make his threat rather than attempting something during an earlier encounter with Amy; While readers might be able to guess possible reasons, the absence of explanation in a book where there is a clear explanation of many other matters stands out, creating a slight sense of author-driven rather than character-driven action.
In parallel with these unravelling timelines and the various threats, metaphysical and character-driven, that they pose, Boca also reveals more about Amy’s powers and place in Weeia society. Providing both a plausible explanation of the Unelmoija and a reason Amy’s impact will not continue to grow as she comes to better understand her powers, this is likely to provide readers with a satisfyingly certain conclusion to the series.
Amy is consistent with the previous books. As before, her powers grow beyond her experience, making her challenge more how to access her ability than whether she has the ability. Her compassionate and truthful nature both make her sympathetic and create further obstacles; while Klaus has treated her badly on several occasions and her father continues to act poorly, she rejects the easier courses of foiling Klaus or abandoning her father in favour of trying to uncover the truth and save both of them.
The supporting cast, both Weeia and human, each display a mix of commendable qualities and understandable frailties, providing alternate perspectives to Amy’s that both showcase her virtues and her imperfections.
Overall, I enjoyed this book. I recommend it to readers who enjoyed the previous volumes in the series.
Dave Higgins, speculative fiction author
(see it and other reviews on his website at https://davidjhiggins.wordpress.com/2018/10/05/unelmoija-paradox-by-elle-boca/
David Higgins has reviewed the first three books of the Unelmoija Series. With his permission here is his review of Unelmoija: The Timeshifter, book four.
Boca continues to mix plausible modern-day characters with a magical world that doesn’t rely on stereotypes, to create urban fantasy that is both fresh and accessible.
This novel is the fourth in the Weeia series. Spoilers ahoy!
Amy’s past is literally catching up with her: sometimes when sleeping or under great stress, she finds herself back at significant moments in her life; she has her memories of what happened to help her navigate these revisits, but Weeia legend says that if something goes wrong a time traveller can become lost forever. And when she is in her own time, her powers are erratic and her health deteriorating.
The book opens with Amy already within the first relived event; but without any indication that it is the past. While this does create a sense of confusion for the reader that might enhance their sympathy for Amy’s struggle to understand what’s happening, the lack of flags as to when this is might leave some readers feeling denied facts the narrator knows.
This sense of concealed facts occurs occasionally throughout the book. At one point Amy refers to a movie as one she liked staring one of her favourite actors rather than using the name of either the film or actor; with no reason she wouldn’t use the names, this has an air of a riddle or concealment for the sake of it. However, for the most part, the narration seems trustworthy so this is not a major issue.
Ironically, Amy’s narration is sometimes too objective. Rather than describing what people are doing and leaving it to the reader to infer intent or emotion, she often provides a statement of what a character is thinking or feeling followed by her reason for that. This, combined with filtering language such as “She saw that…”, distances the reader slightly from the action, making the story potentially less engaging for those who enjoy trying to guess the answers to mysteries.
Although the plot does have both a ticking clock from Amy’s deteriorating health and a sense of threat from antagonists in the present and past, both Amy’s attempts to maintain a past that leads to her present and the overall investigative nature of the plot give the novel a slower, less active feel than previous volumes. This is compounded by Amy reacting to time-shifting rather than gaining a new advantage in the way she has during previous books.
Fortunately, Amy remains consistent with previous books and strives to overcome her new situation, making it likely that readers who have read this far will care enough about her survival to want to find out what happens.
The supporting cast are similarly both consistent and fully involved in events, adding further interest for those who have read the previous novels.
While this book does contain a complete arc from challenge to resolution, many of the events do rely on past matters that do not feature in Amy’s time-shifts; thus, this novel is unlikely to make a good entry point for new readers.
Overall, I enjoyed this novel. I recommend it to readers who enjoyed previous volumes.
Dave Higgins, speculative fiction author
(see it and other reviews on his website at https://davidjhiggins.wordpress.com/2018/06/01/unelmoija-the-timeshifter-by-elle-boca/
Click here to buy Unelmoija: The Timeshifter (Weeia Book 4)
I recommend it to readers looking for fast-paced urban fantasy that isn’t reliant on tweaks to common supernatural creatures for it’s sense of freshness
Unelmoija: The Spiritshifter by Elle BocaBoca continues her exploration of a world neither quite our own nor populated by well-known supernaturals. Mixing easily recognisable concerns with political intrigue and mystical powers, she provides a fantasy thriller that offers significant threats without challenging plausibility.
This novel is the third in Boca’s Weeia series. There are mild spoilers ahead.
Aligned with, if not a leading force in, the Youth for Change movement, Amy accompanies Duncan, Kay, and a couple of other friends to a gathering of the Weeia. However, when Loi—the husband of an acquaintance—is found dead, her foray deeper into Weeia society takes on a more dangerous air. Loi’s power was allegedly to unlock the powers of other Weeia, offering a possible solution to the issue of most young Weeia not developing a power; when a previously powerless Weeia manifests his power shortly after meeting Amy, she realises she might have the same gift. The Weeia Elders claim Loi’s death was natural causes, but Amy isn’t so sure. If someone did kill him because he could unlock powers, then should she hide that she might be able to do the same? Or offer Youth for Change the possible solution to their biggest issue?
The novel opens with Amy and a couple of other characters standing over Loi’s dead body, followed—almost immediately—by an Elder arriving to take charge. Although the narration and conversations that occur after Amy and her friends are ushered out do fill in gaps, the lack of any context for the opening image both leaves readers without a reason to care that Loi specifically is dead and—while it does evoke confusion—diffuses the reader’s attention with unnecessary questions such as ‘where is Amy?’ and ‘why is she involved?’ As such, readers might feel somewhat distant from what, to the characters, is potentially a brutal murder.
Once past the initial scene, Boca provides a better balance of context and mystery, adding a desire to uncover the truth to the any continuing interest in Amy’s life that the reader has carried over from previous books. With both Amy’s investigation and the threats against young Weeia growing more complex as the book proceeds, readers who forgive any initial lack of immersion are likely to find their decision rewarded.
However, further moments in which the order of things is odd do occur throughout the novel. On several occasions, Amy narrates that a man speaks then mentions the man’s name a few lines later, or mentions a person doing something then describes their appearance later in the scene; while a single incidence might create a feeling that Amy had been so caught off guard her rational mind took a moment to catch up, repeated delays in identifying people she’s familiar with (including Duncan) weakens the tension by suggesting any missing information might not be significant and might be provided in a few lines.
As with the previous volumes, this novel introduces new aspects of Boca’s world and metaphysics. Viewed through the lens of Amy’s unfamiliarity with Weeia society and the relative rarity of the new powers and events, this feels like more like the mention of things that had always been there than the addition of new things to support a further book.
Amy herself continues to be a sympathetic protagonist. She is proactive rather than reactive when faced with a possible threat to either herself or Weeia as a whole, and her improved understanding of her abilities is counterbalanced by a very plausible set of uncertainties in both what that means and whether she can actually use it effectively.
The supporting characters, reoccurring and new, display a similar balance of ability or understanding, and complexity of character. This depth of personality provides a pleasing human note to the wider plot.
Overall, I enjoyed this novel. I recommend it to readers looking for fast-paced urban fantasy that isn’t reliant on tweaks to common supernatural creatures for it’s sense of freshness.
Dave Higgins, speculative fiction author
(see it and other reviews on his website at https://davidjhiggins.wordpress.com/2018/02/16/unelmoija-the-spiritshifter-by-elle-boca/)
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/)
I recommend not only this novella but the Unelmoija series by Elle Boca, also.
I was worried I wasn’t going to like this book because my favorite characters weren’t going to be in it but I still liked it. I came to know weeia, as Duncan and Amy but I was so glad to hear that there was a little more to the story. I wasn’t quite finished being in the land of weeia yet. This is a novella, spin-off from The Unelmoija series. It was fast paced, short and a fun read.
Poor Ernie, his weeia abilities always seem to get him trouble. He gets punished for a crime he didn’t commit and basically sent to do military service and gets in trouble there too. Poor guy. I liked the Marshalls Academy, it made this book feel so much different from the other series. At first, I thought I wanted it to feel the same but once I started reading I realized that I was craving something different.
I recommend not only this novella but the Unelmoija series by Elle Boca, also. These magic filled books are awesome.
Ashley Tomlinson, reader, aspiring author, and host of hyperashley.com (see the original at http://www.hyperashley.com/in-the-garden-of-weeia-by-elle-boca/)
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