CM . . .
. Volume XX Number 2. . . .September 13, 2013
Descendant is the second book in Lesley Livingston’s “Starling” trilogy, and it picks up the story with Mason in an eerie wasteland called Hel. The first thing she hears is her dead mother’s voice welcoming her to the Norse underworld. Mason recalls being in a train and crossing a bridge, but then there was an explosion and everything else is blank. At her mother’s urging, Mason sets out to find the Spear of Odin, understanding that the Spear is her only way to get back home.
Once again, Livingston takes readers into a strange world filled with elements of Egyptian, Greek and Norse mythology against a backdrop of characters who inhabit modern-day Manhattan. Mason is in Asgard – the realm of Norse legend – and wants to leave as soon as possible. Fennrys realizes where she is and desperately hopes to rescue her, knowing that the Spear of Odin will set Mason up for more chaos than she can imagine. The action of the novel takes place both in the mythological and real worlds as Fenn is able to cross between the two in his effort to save Mason. Meanwhile, there are gods and goddesses at work in Manhattan as well, engaged in a power struggle which may only finish with the end of the world.Livingston has maintained the characters from the first novel, many of whom are students at Gosforth Academy. Mason is strong and fearless, ready to do battle with both real and unreal opponents in order to pursue her goals. Fenn is her male equivalent, a dark and brooding hero intent on helping his damsel in distress. The action of the novel revolves around the two of them, as does the romance which is central to the plot. Most other characters are minor and are used to advance the plot and help readers understand the tensions between the two main warring factions of the novel. Much of the unrest is caused by the parents of the young characters, thus the title Descendant hints that family secrets may be at play behind much of the action of the book, leaving Mason, Fenn and others merely pawns in a much larger family game.
Fans of paranormal fantasy will enjoy the action and adventure which are evident on every page of the book as Mason and Fenn move from one place to another in their attempt to regain the real world. These adventures always include monsters and mythical beings, occasionally in human form, which are determined to thwart them. Chase scenes, strange creatures, darkness, fog and an unusual sort of sleeping sickness called Miasma are all part of the adventure as Livingston provides readers with a page-turning, theatrical story. Although Mason attains her goal of reaching the real world, nothing is truly solved at the end of the book, and the scene is set for the next book in the trilogy.
Descendant is an action-thriller book with vivid descriptions which put readers into the harrowing settings faced by Mason and Fenn. The otherworldly settings are interesting; Manhattan is just an urban backdrop which could be anywhere. Mason and Fenn are stereotypical characters setting out on a quest and facing whatever dangers may be involved. The hero wants to rescue the lady who, in the end, is more than capable of taking care of herself.
There is tension in the novel and romance as well, both of which will appeal to young adult readers, especially the young women to whom the novel appears to be directed. Unfortunately, they will have to wait until volume three of the trilogy to discover what finally happens to the two lovers and how their quest to save the world is resolved.
Ann Ketcheson, a retired teacher-librarian and high school teacher of English and French, lives in Ottawa, ON.
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Copyright © the Manitoba Library Association. Reproduction for personal use is permitted only if this copyright notice is maintained. Any other reproduction is prohibited without permission.