Entangled Teen, an imprint of Entangled Publishing, LLC, 2013
Imagine the American West, circa 1860’s, with cowboys, Apaches, wildfires, saloon girls and miners. Now skew that just a bit – no – more than a bit. Skew it a lot and you have Relic. A girl of sixteen is growing up on a farm with her parents, brother and sister. We never meet her parents – they die in the first chapter off-stage. When a wildfire takes out her family, Maggie and her sister Ella seek refuge in a neighboring town. There Maggie tries to scrap together a living for her and Ella working as a cleaning-girl in the saloon. But there is something different about this setting. Instead of mining for gold and silver, men mine for, and kill for, relics. Relics are the fossilized bones of ancient, pre-history creatures that hold magic. The holder of a Goblin relic, for instance, can become invisible and a Krakken relic can multiply water. These relics are bought, sold, traded, and collected by mostly the unscrupulous. As it turns out, Maggie has a special gift with relics and she is taken out of her desolate living and transported to the rich and comfortable lifestyle of the Hacienda, where her benefactor intends on using her gift for unknown purposes.
Main characters –
• Maggie, sheltered teenager who is suddenly thrust into the role of provider and the unknown world of men
• Landon, a cowboy who is sweet on Maggie
• Adelaide, saloon girl who is the headline act at the Desert Rose Saloon and a saloon girl
• Alvar Castilla, young (28 y.o.), devastatingly handsome, filthy rich mining baron
Secondary characters –
• Yahnuiyo, Apache warrior, Maggie’s childhood friend; he spends most of the book in jail
• Percy Connelly, manager of the Desert Rose, more like a mean pimp who beats up his ‘girls’ than a bar manager
• Moon John, relic expert, kind old man who teaches Maggie about relics and how to use them
Other characters –
• Ella, Maggie’s little sister, she spends most of the book off stage
• Tom, bouncer at the Desert Rose and denier of his Apache heritage
• Bobby, a cowboy who is sweet on Adelaide and tries to take her away from Connelly
So I originally thought I would rate this book ‘3 paws’ but after mulling it over a while, it’s gone down to 2 paws. The reason being is not the obvious one – that I don’t read (or watch) Westerns. Nothing against that genre, it just doesn’t appeal to me. The reasons I downgraded it are:
1. The untold back story of the creatures that made the relics is far more interesting than the story itself.
2. The relics are not used enough to make them that important to the story. They are talked about a lot, just not used. And when they are used it is so matter-of-fact that it does a disservice to the former living creature.
3. At the end of the book Maggie and Ella survive but the bad guy gets away (I won’t tell who it is). And this guy is just not bad – he is really bad – and he gets away with killing hundreds of people (he burns down at least 3 towns). His reasoning is flawed as is Maggie’s is for letting him go. She is the usual teenaged girl with conflicting emotions but at least they didn’t overwhelm the reader like other books I’ve read.
4. I won’t be rereading the book – which means it goes on the donate pile; however, I will hold on to it for at least 6 months or so just in case there is a second book because the author did leave an open ending (the bad guy really needs to be caught and punished).
5. The book lacks the “It” factor – that unnameable thing that makes it memorable. J. K. Rowing had it with Harry Potter. Rick Riordan has it with Percy Jackson. Lili St. Crow has it with her book, Nameless. Harper Lee had it with To Kill a Mockingbird. That beautiful, exquisite, emotional something that makes you want to – no – have to – reread the book as soon as you finish it. It is just not there, at least not for me.
Rating: 2 paws for the creatures who were the Relics and their untold story. Now that would be a world worth reading about.
Some of the creatures mentioned in the book: