Larby Lodge (The Sword & The Flame) by Gail and Paul Gallacher
Author: Gail and Paul Gallacher
Publication Date: June 2, 2012
Genre: YA, Fantasy
Source: eBook provided by the authors for review (Thank You!)
Book Description from Amazon:
It is 48 years since the change.
A time of great chaos and upheaval,
when millions of teenagers across the globe, developed magical powers.
Still, no-one knows why it happened.
For years a fragile peace has existed.
But now a divide is forming...
And 14 year old Eve Rivers is about to find herself caught up in the middle of the battle.
A battle fought between those who embrace the change, and those who will do
anything to stop it.
A battle that will forever alter the lives of everyone Eve holds dear.
In the future something has unexpectedly changed people. On top of the pimply hormonal awkwardness of puberty, teenagers also begin exhibiting a wide variety of abilities like flying, elemental control or telekinesis. It's a joyous time when these teenagers "Awaken" to their powers, that is unless you're a late bloomer like Eve Rivers.
Eve, at 14 feels left behind, all her friends have Awoken - even her 12 year old younger sister can fly just like their father, which makes her the apple of her father's eye. But Eve is left with a bitter taste in her mouth, and a worry that her powers may never show up. So she grudgingly shoulders the duty to guard and entertain her precious little sister until her own powers show up - but then in a dark turn of events Eve's whole world turns upside down and tragedy constantly nips at her heels. When Eve finally Awakens amidst a storm of emotional turmoil, suspicions and family tensions, her powers become a tsunami of destruction - which lands her in Larby Lodge.
The book's namesake Larby Lodge is a place for troubled teens, particularly ones who have had negative magic related incidents. It's an institution run by Pater's - almost like nuns in a covenant type deal. They generally shun magic, but they will help their students learn control and adaptation. But make no mistake, this is definitely a reform school filled with hard work and even harsher punishments - you don't want to find out what happens to the students that refuse to conform.
Eve's had to go through a lot in a short amount of time. She goes from a whiny child to a mature young woman out of necessity. But there's times where she can be a bit head strong - and that's where most of her problems come from. She spends a large amount of time flip flopping between being really rational and really childish - so I found it a bit hard to relate to her character. I do really admire her passion though, once she latches onto something she becomes committed to it until the bitter end.
The character of Swoosie - the high maintenance co-worker of Eve's father turned very close family friend was probably by far the most intriguing one. She had me guessing her intentions at every turn, no matter how much of a villain I tagged her as, she completely surprised me with her actions.
There's a large grouping of secondary characters that flit in and out of the story. It was a bit hard to keep track of her friends at Larby Lodge, but her enemies definitely stood out.
A bit of romance that's thrown in with one of the Pater boys at Larby Lodge - James. At 16, he is expected to live the life of a Pater and follow their traditions. This whole romance seemed a bit unnecessary and contrived. It all happens quite quickly and then it's forgotten just as quick. Eve admires James, they have a few classes together and then suddenly they're together. I just couldn't realistically wrap my head around it, especially since Eve in my mind is still so young.
The style of writing has a very staccato rhythm to it. The sentences are factual and short, which makes some emotional scenes seem wooden. There is a lot of British slang present - and I didn't understand all of it (the episodes of Dr. Who I've seen could only get me so far), it made the book seem like it was tailored to a specific crowd. But there did happen to be a great British accent that was very successfully woven in.
While this story is set in the near future it really doesn't feel like much as changed in the world. If anything the world building, especially at Larby Lodge sets me back into an even older world of hard labour farming and kids married at 16. I do wish that we would have gotten some kind of explanation for how the powers came to be. They haven't been present for very long and I was never really sure how the world felt of them. With the hostility given to Awakening teenagers that couldn't control their powers, it was evident that while these powers were celebrated in some circles they were also greatly feared in others. This point becomes the vein of the whole story.
Eve stumbles onto some deep dark secrets regarding her family as a threatening mysterious man keeps appearing wherever Eve goes. She struggles to control her powers while she discovers the truth of it all her misfortune. I have to admit my favorite part was all the mysterious circumstances that come together in one big revealing moment at the end. Although I'm still not 100% clear on what the motives were, it was a really elaborate plot that makes Eve vow bloody revenge.
Overall: 3/5 Cups of Drinkable Tea.
While there are lulls in the story and a few bumps, there were some really spectacularly written moments from tragedy, to Eve's awakening powers that all build up to an incredible secret reveal and a final showdown!