In celebration of the seventh book of the Last Oracle series being released literally yesterday, I thought it would be a great time to review the book that kicked it off. The Book of Secrets is urban fantasy, which is a genre I don’t normally wade into unless I have a really good reason, and being friends with the author is a really good reason.
Helena Davis is eager to move on with her life and out of her parents basement. That means getting a job. Working at a bookstore seems like a perfect fit. At least it’s not fast food and the pay is reasonable. But, Abernathy’s Bookstore has plenty of secrets, and none of them are willing to make life easy for Helena.
In case you weren’t convinced, her boss gets murdered in the basement before the end of her first day. There is a war happening between magical forces and alien invaders trying to suck the world dry of its magical energy. The bookstore is the last living oracle and uses it’s books to give important insights and information to those fighting in this war.
There are those convinced that Helena is the enemy, and others that believe that she’s been specially chosen by the oracle itself. This puts Helena in a very dangerous position where she doesn’t know who to trust. She must figure out this new world before whatever killed her boss comes after her.
The best part of any fantasy is getting a peek into how the world would work if there were different rules. The Book of Secrets introduces a world where magic is fighting against aliens, which is definitely a twist I’ve never seen before. McShane does a great job capturing this world and making it feel real to readers. I especially loved the descriptions of the different parts of the bookstore itself. Her words made the place feel like somewhere I would want to go visit, just to say I’d been there.
While the main character was exactly what she needed to be to make it through this story, it was her supporting cast that made the story shine. Helena herself is loyal and has a great work ethic, not to mention enough grit to see tough things through. Viv, her best friend, is who I really loved for just being a complete character who loves fashion, music, and making sure her bestie has a boyfriend at all costs.
The story itself did get dark, there’s plenty of suspense and danger to keep things interesting. From the nasty creatures running around, to Helena’s perpetual worry that she doesn’t know enough about her new world to understand what she should be worried about, there’s enough intrigue to keep readers on their toes.
This is a solid read. If you like urban fantasy and are looking for something with great magic and an interesting world that doesn’t have vampires, this is a good choice. It’s not perfect, there are a few things here and there that could have been expanded on, but it’s also part of a large series that fleshes out all of those ideas, so it’s forgiveable.
There’s one trope that does drive some readers nuts and it deserves mentioning. The main character is kept in the dark about some fairly important things by the other characters. It’s not that no one knows, it’s that they are intentionally not telling her for some half-brained reason, like if she did know she’d be in more danger. I’m not buying it. It does, however, make the book more suspenseful, which is a good thing.
I’d recommend this for urban fantasy readers ages 16 and up for elements of horror, story line complexity, and intense situations.
I rate The Book of Secret 4/5 stars
Also, be sure to check out Melissa’s new release The Book of Harmony, (The Last Oracle series #7)
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