“Verena’s Whistle” is an urban fantasy adventure that is steeped heavily in Slavic folklore. We follow our main character, Verena, who finds out very quickly that her families dwindling magical talents are needed in order to close a portal that has allowed monsters from another place and time to enter our world. Verena’s family has always known that they are the last line of magical defense should this very thing happen, so there really isn’t much of a secret there. But Verena’s particular talent manifestation comes as a surprise, especially as their magical strength has been dwindling over the centuries. But while the synopsis claims there are secrets and Verena must decide if she’s capable of leading, you’d never know that by reading the book.
A lot of the mystery is taken care of within the first few chapters of this book: what Verena’s power is, and the threat they face, as well as the family history. The rest of the story was just a very detailed step-by-step process of how Verena and her family, and her love interest, then go about solving the problem. This includes their meal breaks. That’s the level of step-by-step detail were talking here. No one ever questions who is the leader either, it was always Verena and she seems very comfortable leading, which I liked personally. It was nice to have a female character not be constantly question on their role as leader. The world building is all done through exposition, however, which sacrifices the character development we’d otherwise get by being shown how these characters discover information and then react to it. Plus it lessened the impact, for me, of when some of these folklore legends and gods then made an appearance in the story to help our main characters fight and defeat these monsters. Often times things come very easily to the characters, whether that’s finding information, using their magic, or even falling in love (which is very instant), so while there is lots of action in this book, I didn’t find the story very exciting.
Because the main storyline is introduced so early, the book is oddly paced. The reader knows what needs to happen and then the main characters very methodically go about doing it with lots of little breaks in between for meals or training. It details the mundane rather than focusing on the big issue of the monsters prowling about the Russian mountainside. The premise is very unique though, I just wish there had been more tension or angst when it came to the characters going about this particular quest, and coupled with little character development, this was a 2.5 star read for me, but others may enjoy this book more especially if they are fans of Slavic mythos. And thanks to the author for sending me a copy for an honest review!
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