Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Review: Broken Elements and Shifting Elements by Mia Marshall

Broken Elements
Author: Mia Marshall
Series:  Elements 1
Publisher:  Match Books, February 26, 2013
Format: Trade Paperback and eBook, 332 pages
Price:  $11.99 (print)
ISBN: 9780988976115 (print)
Review copy:  Provided by the Publisher via NetGalley

“It’s happening again, Aidan. We didn’t stop it, after all.”

As an elemental, Aidan Brook holds the power of water at her fingertips. A descendant of the earth’s oldest magic, she can cause tides to ebb and flow, put out house fires without calling 911, and give anyone who’s annoying her an impromptu shower.

But even her magic has its limits. After it fails her one terrible night, she hides from the world and everyone she once loved, trying to escape the memories that haunt her. Ten years later, her exile is brought to an abrupt end when her former best friend appears on her front porch. An elemental killer is once again murdering her friends, and she must return to the scene of her own crimes.

Lake Tahoe proves more than she bargained for. Between a sadistic killer, some clever FBI agents, an annoyingly attractive landlord, and way too many new roommates, she has a pretty full plate. Add in a past she’s desperate to escape and her own dangerously uncontrollable powers, and Aidan Brook is having a very, very bad month.

Shifting Elements
Author: Mia Marshall
Series:  Elements 2
Publisher:  Match Books, April 16, 2013
Format: Trade Paperback and eBook, 342 pages
Price:  $11.99 (print)
ISBN: 9780988976146 (print)
Review copy:  Provided by the Publisher via NetGalley

You can’t fight your nature.

The cover for Shifting SelvesAidan Brook’s world was shattered when the actions of a brutal murderer revealed long-buried secrets about her past–secrets even she didn’t know. A powerful elemental, Aidan discovered she possesses the wrong kind of magic. It’s a secret that could cost her sanity—or even her life.

What she needs is some peace and quiet. What she gets is a phone call from a division of the FBI so secret it doesn’t even have a name, asking for her help with a series of shifter disappearances.

Before Aidan can settle into a new routine of pancakes and evenings by the fire, the case develops claws. She quickly finds herself caught between uptight bears, deadly mountain lions, overprotective parents, and unhappy federal agents. Throw in a stalled romance with an enigmatic shifter and the slow dissolution of her chosen family, and it’s hard to say which will drive her mad first: her magic, or her chaotic life.

Melanie's Thoughts:

I thought I would review both of these books together as I read them one right after another. Broken Elements begins with an introduction to the main characters - Aidan and Sera although the story is told from Aidan's perspective. Both Aidan and Sera are elementals with the ability to control water and fire, respectively. Aidan has been a virtual recluse for the last decade and Sera has hunt her down in order to tell her one of their best friends has been murdered.  Aidan reluctantly agrees to return to Lake Tahoe with Sera to find the serial murderer who is has started killing again after a decade hiatus. As the story progresses we find out why Aidan has been in hiding and why the murderer has started killing again.

Book one, Broken Elements starts out with a gentle introduction to the two elementals - Aidan and Sera, the history of elementals, their society and the personal history of the pair. We are also introduced to their motley crew of friends including Simon the shape shifting cat (domestic that is), Mac the shape shifting bear and Vivian the earth elemental. The friends work together to solve the murders and in the process try not to become the serial killer's next victim. As part of the investigation Aidan discovers the identity of her father. Her mother led her to believe she was only a half breed elemental with one full blood parent (her mother) and a human father. Her mother sheltered her from almost everyone until she went to university and met Sera. Not only does she discover that she's not what she thinks she is but also the identity of her real father.

Book two starts almost immediately afterwards. This time Aidan and Sera have been asked to investigate the disappearance of two teenage shape shifters. There isn't a lot of trust between shape shifters and elementals and it takes all of their 'charm' to convince the shape shifter community that they are capable of finding their children. It isn't an easy job as being smart alecs comes a bit easier than acting competent but it does lead to some amusing scenes. One such scene comes about when Aidan discovers that there are shape shifting otters.  Both Aidan and I share a love of otters.  Who doesn't?  They are adorable. In fact I hazard to guess that some of the funniest lines I have ever read come from Aiden's first encounter with a shape shifting otter -
I wanted to treat her with the respect she was due rather than squealing about the super cute otter, but that was hard to do when I saw her face. She was in a word, adorable. Small ear, enormous, melting brown eyes, round cheeks, and a tiny button nose. I wanted to take her home and feed her and love her and pet her and call her George. Instead, I had to parlay like a reasonable adult. Life really wasn't fair.

I enjoyed these first two books of the series and looking forward to the next installment. Aidan and Sera are amusing but Marshall needs to be careful her characters don't run away with her. While the wise cracks are funny there can be too many or at times that are not convincing. Overall, Marshall has combined likeable characters and mysteries that get more complex as the series progresses. Marshall is taking a break from the Elements series to start another fantasy series but I hope she returns soon as I was just getting into what has started as an engaging series.


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