by Keira Ramsay, paranormal (2007)
Liquid Silver Books, $5.95, ISBN 1-59578-332-6
Keira Ramsay's Redemption is the first book in the urban fantasy series Terran Realm. The concept seems like something that I'll get when the kiddies in Captain Planet enter puberty. The Terrans are a race of folks who are all about the environment. Unfortunately, they aren't very good when it comes to names. The Keepers of the Environment (KOTE or Keepers) are Terrans who protect nature using spells from the Earth, Air, Fire, Water, and
Heart Spirit domains. The Wardens are people who protect the Keepers from harm. The Destroyers are... well, I'll let you work your grey matter a little in figuring out what the Destroyers are. And finally, the Talisman refers to a super-duper Terran who can actually control their "signature element" instead of merely harnessing the powers of the domain to do super-duper things. If you can't tell by now, I'm still not clear on some of the canon elements after reading Redemption.
Redemption takes place in 1989. The KOTE has fallen so far from its original ideals that it's not even funny so this story is setting up an arc about the good guys rebuilding KOTE to its former glory. The Warden in this story is the heroine Brenna Kennedy while the Keeper is our hero Donovan Callahan. Don't expect Brenna to turn into La Femme Nikita anytime soon though - she's a Warden in the sense that her family emigrated from Scotland to America during the 19th century to safeguard a mysterious Terran relic called the Sorhineth. The Sorhineth is a book that contains all the secrets of the Terrans that will be dangerous in the wrong hands. Someone is looking for the Sorhineth (guess who, people, and I'll give you a hint: starts with a D) and unfortunately, Brenna is not fully prepared to defend the Sorhineth since her grandmother died before she could fully impart everything that should be known by a Warden to Brenna. So this is where Donovan, whose element is Earth, comes in. "Captain Planet, he's our hero! Gonna take pollution down to zero!"
What's a Sorhineth? Well, nobody in this story is clear on the nature of that tome, which is always a good way to get me invested into the storyline, I tell you. That's part of the problem with this story: Redemption is underdeveloped. What exactly does a Spirit Talisman do? There are plenty of mentions about how the Spirit Talisman will turn the tide against the polluters and scumbags of Earth but a little more exposition on that subject will be nice. Details are pretty skimpy too, such as how Donovan and the villain have this grand showdown that is boiled down to a simple sentence about how they are throwing "spells and energies" at each other. The pacing and momentum seem off in this story - there is no sense of build-up towards an imminent grand confrontation with the bad guys, and the grand confrontations turning out to be anticlimatic underwritten scenes don't help matters much. The problem also extends to the main characters. They are likable characters but they aren't well-developed enough to stand out. Donovan and Brenna are familiar urban fantasy archetypes - he's the emo angst-laden fellow, she's the sassy wisecracking "What have I gotten myself into?" heroine - who unfortunately don't have much unique or fresh twist in their characterization to make them stand out.
Ultimately, I don't find Redemption a bad story. It is actually a pretty readable story. At the same time, I find the pacing somewhat off with the quiet moments and action-laced scenes being written in the same manner with no noticeable changes in pacing to indicate shifts in tone and urgency. In fact, I find the quiet scenes written in a more detailed manner than the showdowns with the bad guys. The storyline is fine, actually, it's just that Redemption doesn't come through in delivering the excitement and thrills on the paranormal action front. This won't be so bad if this story is set up to be some quieter and more introspective paranormal romance. But this is supposed to be the first book to kick off an urban fantasy series!
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