Life is almost back to normal for Harper Price. The Ephors have been silent after their deadly attack at Cotillion months ago, and her best friend, Bee, has returned after a mysterious disappearance. Now Harper can focus on the important things in life: school, canoodling with David (her nemesis-turned-ward-slash-boyfie), and even competing in the Miss Pine Grove pageant.
Unfortunately, supernatural chores are never done. The Ephors have decided they’d rather train David than kill him. The catch: Harper has to come along for the ride, but she can’t stay David’s Paladin unless she undergoes an ancient trial that will either kill her . . . or make her more powerful than ever.
Let me start off by saying, I’m a little torn about my feelings about this book. In fact, when it comes to writing a review, it’s really difficult to type out your thoughts when you have both a positive and negative experience with a story. So in order to fully explain my point, I’ll start with the positive points.
The author managed to maintain some of her Buffy-esque appeal to Harper’s continuing story. In fact, there were times where I could almost imagine some of the scenes and settings as part of a Buffy story line. Add to that the witty and more Legally Blonde moments, and the book was enjoyable enough. That being said, that’s about the extent of my positive feelings towards this book.
On to the negative…
First of all, let me say, I cannot fathom why so many authors are so afraid to turn key characters into antagonists. I bring this up because as Harper’s best friend, Bee reenters the picture, it’s apparent she’s up to no good. For one, she’s a better trained Paladin than Harper and there is a moment when Harper finds her whispering with David, her boyfriend and the Oracle she must protect. Add on to that she begins dating Harper’s ex, Ryan (who is also the Mage for this dysfunctional trio) and has spent most of her life living in Harper’s shadow and she’s the perfect candidate for an antagonist. Hawkins’ story would have been stronger had she taken this path, as it would be completely logical for Bee (or maybe Blythe disguised as Bee) to be trying to take Harper out of the current equation. But, none the less, everything has to be flowers, sunshine and rainbows, thus, Bee is just an annoying sidekick who not only broke girl code, but acted like a massive, prying biotch, from the moment she returns to her normal life.
Second, at the end of the book, it’s revealed Alexander is the last of the Ephors, I’m not sure where Hawkins is going in her third book, but this revelation would have been better suited for the end of the series. After all, the ENTIRE first book is about trying to keep David away from the Ephors. And don’t get me started on the trials Harper undergoes with the threat of death, should she fail, only to have them end before she can succeed? I’m sorry, but this lack of follow through doesn’t work in a book that is geared entirely around Harper’s frustration and fear of when the next trial is going to happen and who it might put into danger. Instead, the author cops out and makes Alexander magical disband the whole thing because he’s dying. Boo-freaking-who.
In the end, there is nothing truly memorable about this storyline. The trials are pathetic. What’s so interesting about Harper saving David from a fire or seeing her own reflection attempting to kill him? Nothing when the end result leads to just that, NOTHING. Hawkins has a flair for wittier storylines (though it’s apparent that she understands nothing about being a southern girl), but when it comes to exciting, intense dramatic scenes, she’s got a lot to learn. Hopefully one day she’ll get there. Because honestly, Buffy wouldn’t have been interesting with just her quick wit. It’s the action scenes and intense, dramatic storylines that helped propel her from being more than just another Valley girl and let’s just say, Harper (and Hawkins) have a lot to learn when it comes to handling those kinds of literary/fictional situations.