A while back I was sent Firespell and Charmfall for review, books one and three of a series. I wasn’t overly impressed by Firespell and unfortunately, the same points I flagged in that review are still present in Charmfall.
High school can be a battlefield, but for Lily Parker, surviving at St. Sophia’s School for Girls is a matter of life and death…
Protecting Chicago from the dark side can be an exhausting job, especially when you’re a junior. So when the girls of St. Sophia’s start gearing up for Sneak, their fall formal, Lily decides to join in on some good, old-fashioned party prep—even if it means not giving demons, vampires and the twisted magic users known as Reapers her undivided attention.
But when a Reaper infiltrates the school, Lily doesn’t forget what she’s sworn to protect. She reaches deep into herself to draw out her magic—and finds that it’s gone. And it turns out she’s not alone. A magical blackout has slammed through paranormal Chicago, and no one knows what—or who—caused it. But Lily knows getting back her magic is worth the risk of going behind enemy lines…
The pacing is still slow. The majority of the story actually consists of Lily giving the reader inconsequential and pointless information. There’s a running commentary on the brat pack’s movements, their clothing, the decorations Lily’s putting together for a school dance etc. It’s just not information we need, nor really care, to know.
The Adepts are supposedly at war with Reapers, but there never seems to be any sort of, well… fighting going on. As with the first book, there is a distinct lack of danger or action and despite words like ‘battlefield’, ‘life and death’ and ‘protecting Chicago’ thrown around in the synopsis, nobody really does anything. As far as I can tell, mostly the Adepts sneak down into the underground tunnels most nights and have meetings in their secret room, which turns out to be pretty much round the corner from the Reaper’s underground base. Perhaps I missed all the major movements in book two, but considering nothing seems to have changed or moved on plot-wise from the end of the first book, that seems unlikely.
Someone is behind a magical blackout, forcing the Adepts and Reapers to work together to gain their magic back. This could have been a potential interesting plot line, but it ends up being mostly a lot of talking, some faffing around, a convenient (and poorly written) fairy tale that provides the answers and the whole thing is fairly easily resolved with little trouble by the end of the book. There’s seemingly nothing to stop the culprit from working the same mojo again, but somehow that question never comes up.
In fact, there are quite a few unresolved questions popping up throughout this series. Do Lily’s parents really know about magic? What are they hiding? Is Adept HQ as trustworthy as first believed? (Probably not) Are Reapers truly as evil as they’ve been told? (Probably not) Can Lily trust Sebastian? (Who cares – he’s a lot more interesting than Jason.)
It’s just all a bit flat. Charmfall has a lot of unnecessary filler and no character or plot progression. A shame, as I saw some potential in book one, but I’m not inclined to continue with these books. They are shaping up to be a long, lightweight, inoffensive and rambling paranormal series. Not bad for the casual reader but why bother when there are much more satisfying books out there?
*Edit: Just read that there are no further plans to continue this series. I guess the publishers, or possibly the author, aren’t feeling this one either.
Originally review over at Mostly Reading YA