A vivid tale of magic and self-discovery…
Hardwick creates a first-rate blend of magic and grit in this second outing in The Circle series as her young protagonist faces a malevolent pair of enemies after the deaths of her mother and mentor while struggling with self-doubts and insecurities. Soraya Rawlings is no longer an apprentice now: the brutal murders of four Elders have forced her to come out of the shadows and take charge of the Circle. Using her newly-found ability of Dream Walking, Soraya sets on to train the new Circle members in an urgent effort to thwart the plans of their enemies: the pair of Madeline Renaud, the witch and leader of White Oak Coven and Shawn Kites, Owner and CEO of DNAgen Biolabs. The stakes rise as Shawn realizes he could use his newly-found magical abilities to destroy the Circle. Soraya must find a way to thwart her enemies’ vicious plan or risk losing everyone in the Circle. Readers who haven’t read the first book will struggle to keep track of the shop owners and apprentices initially, but once they get the hang of the story, the developing complexities will keep them invested. There are multiple mini storylines and characters’ backstories that take the reader into American history’s grim past. Hardwick skillfully keeps various threads of the plot together, and as various sub plots converge, the different backstories merge to form a highly satisfying and unified whole. Many characters use broken English to converse which not only makes it difficult for the reader to follow the story but also hampers the flow of the narrative. The pacing of the book is smooth, and the multiple points of view and numerous plot twists unravel at a leisurely pace. The novel’s real power lies in Hardwick’s perceptive and sensitive portrayal of her characters: Soraya’s struggles with her fears, self-doubts, and identity issues are sketched with credibility and understanding, making her a heroine the reader will love to root for. The Elders in the story are complete darlings. Shawn with his sadism and disturbing tendency of self-righteousness makes for an intimidating villain. The very idea of the drug, Melacrit, and the reasons behind inventing it is what makes this as much a story of magic as it’s a moving exploration of the issues of prejudice and racial discrimination. Readers will relish Hardwick’s whimsical take on racism.
Book Two of The Circle
By Brenda Hardwick
Shine Your Light Publishing, LLC
Pub date April 5, 2020
Price $17.99 (USD) paperback, $3.13 Kindle edition