Book Review: The Secrets of the Vanmars

13596312Title: The Secrets of the Vanmars

Author: Elisabeth Wheatley

Publisher: Chengalera Press

Release Date: May 15th, 2012

Rating: 4 out of 5

Summary: “After her adventures with the Key of Amatahns, sixteen-year-old Janir Caersynn Argetallam returns home to find Brevia on the brink of war with a neighboring country, Stlaven. Her foster-father and even Saoven—a brave young elf warrior—think it will be safe at the castle where Janir grew up. However, while trying to unravel a looming mystery, Karile—self-taught wizard and Janir’s self-appointed best friend—becomes certain that there is danger in the mountains surrounding Janir’s childhood home and that it has something to do with Stlaven’s most powerful family, the Vanmars.” – Goodreads

I will no longer be buying the Argetallam saga’s eBooks. I’ll be buying the paperbacks to add to my very own library collection, where I only keep books I truly adore. This series is one of the better ones I’ve come across in quite some while, and I don’t even like High Fantasy.

As for the characters, Janir is as fantastic as ever, taking action as a strong, realistic female lead. She’s selfless, feisty and quick-thinking all at once. While there wasn’t much of Lucian, – still one of my favorites -, I liked his bit in the opening of the book. Boiling with emotion and a strange tinge of. . . guilt? Goodness, Lucian, better hide that away before Daddy smacks it out of you. As for one of my other favorites? Saoven. How I love him. He’s kind, fiercely protective and, this I love most, hopelessly in love. Granted, he does his best to hide it, but if you’re like me and look for romance in books everywhere, you’ll spot it quickly. It’s adorably written, and actually makes for a great epilogue, filled with all the promise of gallantry yet subtle hero bad-assery. I’ll be glad when there’s a bit more tension between Saoven and Janir, but I think it’s at the appropriate level for the story thus far.

The Lord Argetallam isn’t that interesting of a character, simply because he’s the bad guy without much wiggle-room to sympathize or tantalize, but he does bring some interesting cards to the table. At the end of the book, he says he’s going to purge Janir’s memories of anything Anti-Argetallam. I’m curious whether he’s just going to try to do that, or whether he’s actually capable of extracting/blocking out those memories. If so, that puts Janir and friends, (and by extension, the entire world) in a serious bind. The possibility is extremely interesting.

I appreciated the world-building here as much as I did in the previous story. Well laid out and not too confusing, a trench many fantasy stories tend to fall into. My one irk with The Secrets of the Vanmars is some of the writing. In the first half, the writing was superb. While the writing still continued to be good in the latter half, I came across a few grammatical and formatting errors, as well as some sentences that seemed clunky.

One of the loose ends from the first book, the comment about Janir being a “fledgeling” and some of the respective mystery floating around her is still unanswered, but this is a seven book series and might require some patience from me before I get the answers I crave. Ew. Waiting.

Overall, The Secrets of the Vanmars is packed with great characters, action at ever turn and a constantly developing plot. With the exception of a tiny bit of awkward writing, the story sinks its hooks into you with no intention of letting go, earning it a solid 4 out of 5.

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