Supernatural and mythical beings enliven this latest installment in Hiatt’s (Evil Within Yourselves, 2015, etc.) Spell Weaver action-adventure series.
About five hours away from Santa Brigada, where Tal Weaver and his allies have come to terms with their past lives and their amazing abilities, the teenage Lucas struggles to accept his own freakish talents and psychic visions. He fears the scorn he would face from his peers if his secrets were discovered, which would make the former challenges he experienced as a dancer seem inconsequential by comparison. But when a trained assassin from the shadow world targets him in order to complete her training, his worries take a back seat to his efforts to save his life and family. He’s alternately helped and hindered by a mysterious stranger identifying herself at different times as his grandmother, his great-grandmother, or possibly his mother. Whomever she is, she’s of Encantado origin, like him, and she manages to connect Lucas with Tal and his friends. The group soon finds itself embroiled in conflict with a rapidly growing shadow army. The battle is complicated by a discovery that the initial shadow assassin isn’t what she first appeared to be, and her true identity raises moral questions. The fast-paced action that typifies Hiatt’s work is evident here, but there’s also time for nuanced emotions to develop, such as Lucas’ desire to be known and accepted. By giving new characters control of the narrative, the author revitalizes the series while remaining true to its roots. In particular, he preserves the series’ enjoyably suggestive overtones (“I'm not just descended from weredolphins, but from horny weredolphins!”) and pithy, clever comments (“backyards so small and narrow that if you put in a hot tub, no one could walk from one end of the yard to the other without wading part of the way”). The relative brevity of this installment makes for a tauter, more intense presentation, although the conclusion feels somewhat arbitrary and abrupt, and the setup for the next book seems too overt. Overall, though, this novel is another satisfying addition to the Spell Weaver tales.
A deft mix of history, mythology, and coming-of-age themes.