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Disclaimer: I received a free electronic copy of this novel in exchange for an honest review.
Hills and Valleys is the third novel in Helen Jones's Ambeth Chronicles. You can read my review of the first two books, Oak and Mist and No Quarter on their pages. To avoid major spoilers for all three novels, I will focus this review more on my personal reaction to the text and the writing itself, and will refer to the content in broad terms. That being said, some mild spoilage will occur. You've been warned.
As with No Quarter, Hills and Valleys picks up right where the previous book left off. The reader is launched right back into England and Ambeth, as Alma and the members of the Light grieve the tragedy that befell them at the end of No Quarter. Right away, it is clear that Hills and Valleys will have a more serious tone than the previous two novels, signalling both a maturing in Alma as a character and the growing threat in the quest to return the Regalia (whether Alma chooses to continue helping or not).
For me, this grieving period lasted a little longer than I would have liked. While I understand and respect Jones's choice to spend a decent portion of the book working through the character's emotional distress, I would have preferred for the action to move along at the same time. Chess pieces were slowly put into place, but some of the conversations and debates between the Light and Dark in Ambeth seemed repetitive, and I wish more space would have been allowed to show the development of Alma's powers (which, though fantastic, seemed to emerge a bit out of nowhere for me).
Speaking of Alma, I believe she really comes into her own as a character in Hills and Valleys. She shows strength and independence in situations where I feel she might have faltered in previous books (especially with her support of her mother and her interaction with Deryck), and toward the end of the book, she accepts rather dramatic revelations with admirable calmness. Likewise, the supporting characters reveal new layers to their personalities as well. Deryck and Ellery both face complex moral and emotional conundrums, Lord Denoris unveils new levels of delicious evil, and King Thorion gives us more insight into his personal struggles.
As with the entire series, the settings in Hills and Valleys are beautifully described. The jewel of the Ambeth Chronicles remains Ambeth itself, and seeing it from a new character's perspective made me fall in love with it all over again. Moreover, the introduction of Wales made for a gorgeous (and symbolic!) backdrop, and I'm pleased that it will feature in the next novel, too.
If you've been a fan of the Ambeth Chronicles thus far, everything you love is still there: the wonder of Ambeth, the twisting turns of the quest for the Regalia, and the enchanting sparks of magic. If you're a fantasy lover who has not explored this series yet, I highly recommend you jump on board. Between developed, emotive characters, dazzling magic, stunning scenery, and dashes of romance Ambeth has something for everyone.
As for this novel itself, Hills and Valleys is a brilliant continuation of the series that will leave readers hungry for the next step in the journey. I know I can't wait.
Reviewed in the United States 🇺🇸 on January 9, 2019
With the third installment of The Ambeth Chronicles came hope. This one was about overcoming obstacles after heartbreak and betrayal. It was about both sides, light and dark, desperately trying to find something to change the tides of their power struggle. Hills and Valleys was about coping with grief, a journey of self-rediscovery and discovering one’s roots, and about revelations.
I loved that we had more of a focus on Alma and her mother in this one. We learned some very important, and emotional, information that made the story much more interesting. It was refreshing to get a little history, and intriguing to have a few things revealed.
Though this one wasn’t as exciting as the last, I enjoyed the more emotional aspect of it. I also liked all the secrets that were revealed. So, it still felt necessary to the series.
It continued to build on the world, and the story of Ambeth. Alma continued to grow, change, and flourish. She learned to work through her grief, and handled things more maturely in this one.
The title of this one fit so nicely. All the characters seemed to hit highs and lows. They worked through their own hills and valleys, and the story flowed in the same manner. It was another quick read, and I’m dying to find out what happens next!
Thank you to the author for providing me with this free e-book in exchange for my honest review.
Reviewed in the United States 🇺🇸 on December 19, 2017
This book finds Alma - having turned her back on Ambeth.
With Hills and Valleys, Helen Jones continues the wonderful Ambeth Chronicles. It is an enjoyable and compelling read, focussing on the events after the Harvest Fair - in Ambeth as well as in Alma's world. Thorion, Deryck, Ellery, Alma - their lives have changed. Alma and her family visit her grandmother; her parents consider it having a healing effect. Helen Jones paints a clear picture of Alma’s and the other characters' mind sets while the story evolves. I was drawn very close to Alma and her story – an invisible friend and ally. The characters are complex, believable with their flaws and virtues. The story is nicely woven and has a wonderful flow; it was easy to get hooked. I love how some secrets are solved and new mysteries come up, it is fine balance. I am looking forward to reading the next book.
This is a book for you if you like young adult fantasy, urban fantasy, believable and often very likeable characters.
The third book in The Ambeth Chronicles series; the last chapters let me expect a promising fourth book. A book I definitely need to read.