96. Harley Merlin and the Secret Coven by Bella Forrest

Synopsis (as taken from the Amazon Kindle Store) is as follows:

Being an empath has its advantages.

Harley Merlin can sense people’s emotions, among other things. It’s how she snagged her first job pinpointing cheaters at a casino.

But she has no clue where she got these freakish powers because she spent her childhood jumping from home to home in the foster system, and her father left her with nothing more than a cryptic note.

Then she crosses paths with a terrifyingly real monster. Which is when a mysterious and annoyingly arrogant young warlock named Wade Crowley steps in, introducing her to a hidden world of beasts, magicals, and covens riddled with secrets – as well as clues about her murky past.

Whether she likes it or not, this new world is where she belongs. But after a disturbing twist of events, Harley quickly realizes that her past is darker than she could ever have imagined.

And that some in the coven is out for her blood.

With the help of Wade and her new friends, she must figure out who the traitor is and why they’re targeting her…Before the human and magical worlds dangerously collide.

Ability to read – This has been in my kindle library for a while. I first added it because of the tag line that ‘fans of Harry Potter will like this.’ I always see books with that tag as suspicious because in my opinion, the level of excitement I had with Harry Potter, is rarely recreated elsewhere. Anyway, I finally got around to reading this and made a quick show of it. I had no problems with reading this, the language was easy to understand and follow. The characters were clearly identified and the scenes/world building were rich and precise. I read this over the course of two afternoons and found I could fully immerse myself in the story and connect with the characters involved.

Characterization – I usually get some form of connection from the characters I read about but never have I met a character that is so like me that it’s kind of frightening. Harley Merlin’s sarcasm and wit spoke to my heart and soul as it is the way I live my life. I found Harley to be such a realistic character because she has never faltered through what life has thrown at her and she has managed to navigate everything thrown at her with a level head and a sense of determination and accomplishment. I wish I could be as confident as Harley, and be someone who gives no fucks as much as she does through this first book. I went in and out of phases with Wade, loving and hating him in equal measure but the dynamic he added to Harley’s life was something she needed. The idea of being an empath is a narrow path full of holes, in my opinion, it’s a talent that has to be done just right, one wrong move and it makes little sense. Harley’s empathy was so real and raw. I never felt that she was forcing her empathy or faking it. I understood that her reactions were real and the way she dealt with things was real.

I thought she was a very interesting character and one I’ll be watching as the series progresses.

Visualization – Here, I felt that I got equal measures of detail and description versus dialogue and action. I could clearly visualise the world in which Harley lives, see all the characters clearly and invision them interacting with each other. I had no difficulty with visualising what I was reading.

Enjoyment – In all honesty, I didn’t have high hopes for this. I started reading with a pinch of salt, hoping against hope that I had stumbled across a gem and not a piece of dirt. By the end of the book, my enjoyment level had piqued at medium/high, I had enjoyed the book enough to get the second in the series and I had connected to the characters in a way that made me invested in what happened next. I did get shades of other books as I was reading this one: Mortal Instruments by Cassandra Clare, The Secret Circle by L. J. Smith and pretty much ever fan fiction Mary Sue. However, my overall enjoyment wasn’t battered by the similarities I found. I still think there was enough originality in this to warrant a read. As my introduction to the series, I thought the world established was rich in detail and had a lot of ways in which to be exploited throughout the series. Similarly, the characters involved all appeared to me as multilayered, and for everything I learnt about them in this book, I know there is much still to be uncovered in the rest of the series. I have taken the plunge and added books 2 and 3 into my kindle library.

Star Rating – ★★★★

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