Top critical review
Corn Pop Culture
Reviewed in the United States on February 27, 2021
I am not a fan of Lindsay Hall’s writing and this book was a stark reminder of why. As a side note, I sincerely wish that Amazon would stop recommending her books to me. They frequently seem interesting, but the execution never holds up.
First, the fmc’s name is Nevaeh, which is Heaven spelled backwards. It’s the kind of trendy, trite name reminiscent of Tiffani with an “i”, Krystal with a “K”, Brandy/Brandi, and other stripper-adjacent names. The other characters have names like “Rhiannon” after the Fleetwood Mac song or “Damien Malek” that sounds like the authors hybridized the British actors Damien Lewis and Rami Malek.
Although the book starts with Chicago as the setting, Nevaeh uses British idiomatic English. When she is hungry, she is “famished”. When she is tired, she is “bushed”. When she sees a nice office, she describes it as “posh”.
Despite acting as the introduction to a multi-book series, the authors don’t bother having Nevaeh learn anything or struggle with anything that happens. She is instantaneously an expert in all things the moment she tries for the first time. She is able to locate a specialised book and cast a spell from it in the midst of a massive fight. Even though she has only ever realm-walked once in her life, she reads about it in a book and simply does it. She doesn’t need to think about it, or practise, and she is able to take Malek along with her without a hitch. Then she quickly learns how to fly, wield magic, fight giant ice monsters, and tame a dragon - none of it phasing her in the slightest. The only thing that makes her blink is a dream that she has about Malek. 🙄
As a testament to the dearth of imagination and Mary Sue characteristics, the Air realm that Nevaeh takes Damien to visit has an island named Capri, exactly the same as the island in Italy. Instead of using their own imaginations to develop the AU, the authors draw parallels to other pop culture references including How To Train Your Dragon, Harry Potter, and Raiders of the Lost Ark. Ultimately, all of the creative short cuts make it impossible for me to think of anything other than Stevie Nicks singing RhiiiiAnnnnOooonnn whenever the character is mentioned or envisioning Rami Malek with Damien Lewis’s bright red hair.