Title: Odessa - The Seraphym Wars
Author: Rebecca Ryals Russell
Publisher: Muse It Up
Pages: Ebook; 272
Release Date: March 29, 2011
Intended Reading Group:
4 Keys to My Heart
Myrna Ashlin Watts graduated from High School in Jacksonville, Fl just in time to find herself transported to a bizarre and primal planet corrupted by demon-dragons. And they want her DEAD. Her problem is she has been recruited to kill them, too.
18-year-old Myrna is drawn into the middle of an epic battle between Seraphym and Demons. An average High School student from Florida, struggling with inner demons resulting from a rape two years earlier, she wakes one morning on the Steampunk planet of Dracwald, home of the demon-dragons responsible for her brother’s recent murder as well as many other atrocities in the news. She meets Michael, who becomes her guide and explains that according to prophecy, Myrna must gather the remaining six Vigorios (teen warriors with special talents) then train with the Majikals on an enchanted island...
When I was first asked to review the first installment in The Seraphym Wars series, I was more than happy to accept! Fantasy, as you probably well know, is my favorite genre of all time. Add in the battle between Seraphym and Demons, and the addition of Steampunk elements, and you have a book that firmly holds my interest. I desperately hoped that this would be a book that was as good as it sounded. I opened to the first page and was immediately immersed in Myrna's journey. I will admit that the beginning of this story is a little confusing. However keep in mind that Myrna is thrown onto a planet that she has no recollection of, and so she is a little confused as well. Keep reading and you won't be sorry!
Told in third person, and mostly from Myrna's point of view, Odessa is a rollicking adventure and fantasy novel that has a little bit of something for everyone. Complete with Christian undertones, you'll notice that the battle between Seraphym here doesn't disappoint. Mentions of Tartarus, evil shape-shifting dragons, snippets of Fey and other mythical creatures, it's all there in lovely detail. I'll admit that there were times when the third person point of view threw me off slightly, since sometimes I wasn't entirely sure at first who was talking. Once I got to know the characters better however, I was able to distinguish them much easier.
Lovers of fantasy are generally big on whether or not the world that is built in a new story is vivid and sticks to its own rules. Rebecca Ryals Russell definitely fills those two requirements! Dracwald has an amazing back story that emerges as you read on, and the landscape that is shared with the reader is written in gorgeous detail. As the entourage make their way across thick, dark jungles and bleak, desolate plains, the world of Dracwald opens up beautifully. The darkness that has surrounded the land oozes off the page. I was so happy! A new fictional place to fall in love with.
Story wise, the plot moves along at a rather nice pace. Since there is a lot of travelling going on in this first book, there are points in which things may seem a little slow. The banter between the characters eases this somewhat, and Russell seems to know just when to throw in a new twist, or a terrifying chase scene to keep the reader on their toes. As beautifully written as the world of Dracwald is, I must warn you that it is also a rather violent place. Readers who have an issue with that may find themselves a little squeamish. It isn't anything garish or gory, but rather Russell uses it as an opportunity to show, in sharp contrast, what the world once was compared to what it has become. Dracwald is mirrored with our world, and if you read carefully you may see a deeper message there.
This is all I can really share without giving too much away. Dracwald is a place that you need to experience for yourself to truly appreciate it. I'd love to delve more into the characters too, but that would take eons and by then you might disappear! I'd rather leave you to meet them on your own.
If you are a lover of fantasy, or even looking for more Christian fiction in your life, this is a great place to start! Be warned, the ending is a bit of a slight cliffhanger. I cannot wait for the next installment to see what happens with Myrna and her friends.
FTC Disclosure: I received a copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. I was not monetarily compensated for my opinion.