Oh lord, friends, where do I begin? Firstly, with a plea for you to read the first book, “Imber”, in this epic series first and foremost. You have to or nothing else will make sense, but it's worth it, so, so worth it. Once you do that, come back, sit down next to me, and let me tell you about all the heart strings that “Tellus” is going to pull, because it will pull them and pull them, break some, but then give you more because there are moments so achingly sweet mixed in with the pain our dear heroes face. What kind of pain? Oh, just the fate of the world, no biggie. “Tellus” picks up pretty seamlessly from where “Imber” left off: Nat has failed to retrieve one of the Scepters that is keeping the Titans locked away. There are 2 more left, but they don’t know where they are, or who could be conspiring against them, keeping Nat from her throne and risking the life of her family—by blood or no.
I had the pleasure of beta reading “Tellus” prior to its release, so I knew what was in store for me—I knew and it still didn’t help. What Natalyia goes through, her fear, anxiety, desire to save her people, to sacrifice herself to make life easier for others, are all so real and tangible that even though she is a queen, you can completely connect to her as a real person, and you feel FOR her. The same can be said of Camion who, when he’s with Nat, is just so sweet sometimes it made my teeth ache. Like I’m sure I have a few cavities now, thanks, Hackett! But even with knowing what was going to go down, one of my favorite things about this story, nay, this series is the friendships and the banter between the cast of characters the author has introduced us to. I want to be part of their circle, that’s how well they’re crafted, how funny they can be, and how loyal they are to one another. For a fantasy series, all the characters are well rounded, their struggles so real, that this is an inspiring read. One you want to share with young adults who are struggling to find their place in the larger world, and who need to know that even if you fall sometimes, if you fight for what you love, for what you believe in, you can accomplish great things—though it does help to have an Elf and witch bestie on your side, just saying.
“Tellus”, much like its predecessor, is a steady read. It’s not super-fast, not slow, but this wonderful blend of both to where you are given time to absorb the world Hackett is presenting; you get to see the lushness of it, experience the magic and feel like you really understand it, before moving on to the next area. The action is heart pounding, the hints teased with remarkable subtly that you are kept wondering, and guessing as to who is really after them, what will happen next; one secret revealed with a dozen more to take its place. I was never bored during this read, never felt like this was a typical second book in a series where it’s just a place holder to the climax—this was a fun and inspiring adventure to be a part of in its own right.
But here’s the thing, remember those heart strings I told you about? Prepare to have them snapped with the ending! Even with knowing what was going to happen, part of me wished it wasn’t going that way. That the cliffhanger wouldn’t be quite the cliff it was, and it wasn’t compared to the original version, but still! It still kind of was AND HOW DARE YOU HACKETT?! I say this mainly because I am devastated in a good way, but also because I know some people have mixed feelings about books with cliffhangers. I’m hoping if you know it’s there ahead of time you won’t throw your book/Kindle across the floor and do some voodoo magic on this lovely author. She really is a master of the gentle touch though, so pay attention to what unfolds because she does give you the answers, but you will miss them in the incredible world and character building Hackett presents if you don’t read closely.
This is a wonderful series full of meticulous world building, wonderful characters with incredible friendships, slow burn romances, and no cheesy love triangles! The topics can be heavy at times, like, real heavy—so this is still probably better for a more mature YA reader, but there is no gory violence or super sexy scenes, so rest assured. And even with the cliffhanger shattering my heart, it’s shattered in the way I most love: with a desperate desire to dive back into this world as soon as possible. Even though I did beta read this novel early on, I’d still give it 5 stars (4.5 if I want to get salty about that ending tho) because I feel like the main character’s struggles and the deeper issues this book tackles head on is far more important than any saltiness about the ending. Seriously, this is a wonderful fantasy series full of heart, and I can’t wait to see where it goes from here!
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