Book Review: Aerenden: The Child Returns

Aerenden:  The Child Returns
(Aerenden #1)
Published By: Sean Tigh Press
Publication Date:  May 21, 2012
Page Count:  382 pages
Source:  Novel Provided by Author
Audience:  Young Adult Sci-Fi/Fantasy

Aerenden was a nice surprise from this indie author.  It seemed to meld a world of fantasy with sci-fi, and I must say that it worked for me.  Having said that, the only thing that really let Aerenden fit into the science fiction category was that this world was literally another world away from the world/earth we all know.  But once we were ‘teleported’ to this other world, the flavour was definitely more medieval fantasy with no modern conveniences but a people with ‘powers’.  And that is probably why I ended up liking this story as much as I did…because of that fantastical element.

It IS hard to put into words why I liked this story because, in retrospect, not a lot happened and it seemed fairly typical of other stories…but it held just enough differences to set it apart.  I might have found it boring actually…but there was some action…and A LOT of traveling.  Maybe it was the author’s writing style that kept me interested…I’m not entirely sure…but something kept me reading it.

The characters, I felt, were well enough developed…but there was something that I couldn’t quite put my finger on that left me wanting a little more from them.  They felt dynamic enough and I came to care about what happened to them, but there was just something missing that kept me from being wowed.  Perhaps it was the romance factor.  This story was very light in that department but it was there.  It was of the forbidden variety…so that kept things interesting.   I just couldn’t help wishing that it progressed a little more than it did…especially considering where they ended up towards the end.

The powers of the people of Aerenden were diverse…some were passive, and some not-so-much.  Meaghan was just coming into hers…but it was a slow and quite literally painful process for her.  She’ll definitely be in store for much more training in the next book.

Meaghan was strong-willed, and I did really like that about her.  Her reactions to situations were plausible and I could feel her frustration when things didn’t work out as she had hoped.  Through some pretty clever story-telling and historical revelations, I enjoyed seeing where Meaghan got a lot of her innate characteristics.

Nick was a sweetheart but also frustrating in Meaghan’s eyes, as well as my own.  I knew why he had to hold back so much, but I was dying to see a lot more rebellion in him.  Perhaps that will come forth in the next book as well, given where he ends up at the end of the first one.

The Mardroch are the villains in this story and remind me of evil mages from other fantasy stories I’ve read.  They relish in torture and taunting…and killing…  However, they work for the ultimate villain, Garon, of whom we have yet to meet in person.  But his reputation precedes him so I anticipate some pretty epic battles coming on the horizon.

Kristen Taber has the talent of painting pictures with her words.  I could vividly see the world she created in my mind.   She did get a little repetitive with some phrases and gestures (Nick had a thing for touching Meaghan’s shoulders and kissing her forehead)…but they were still endearing enough not to bother me all that much.  I guess the bigger thing that did bother me was just that I wanted the plot to roll along at a more exciting clip and I wanted some things to happen that didn’t.  I think there is such as thing as building up just a bit too much so you’re left feeling a little flattened by the time the big reveals come around.  But maybe that’s just me, and my preferences.

I WILL continue reading this series, though.  I’m interested in finding out what happens next.

My thanks go to the author for providing Reading Lark a copy to read and review.

Synopsis from Goodreads:

Seventeen-year-old Meaghan has no idea her perfect life has been a lie — until she witnesses her parents’ brutal murders at the hands of red-eyed creatures.

After nearly sharing their fate, she escapes with her best friend, Nick, who tells her the creatures are called Mardróch. They come from another world, and so does she. Now that the Mardróch have found her, she must return to her homeland of Ærenden or face death.

Left with little choice, she follows Nick into a strange world both similar to Earth and drastically different. Vines have the ability to attack. Monkeys freeze their victims with a glare. Men create bombs from thin air. Even Meaghan’s newly discovered empath power turns into a danger she cannot control.

But control becomes the least of her worries once the Mardróch begin targeting her. When Nick confesses he knows the reason they want her, she learns the truth behind the kingdom's fifteen-year civil war — a long-buried secret that could cost Meaghan her life.