Alexa Costa has a life-altering secret…only she doesn’t know it yet.
Confined by law to the kingdom of Alvair until the age of eighteen, Alexa has lived a sheltered existence under the watchful eye of her sword-wielding guardian, Ivy. Her love interest, Caleb Whitman, is exactly the opposite. A merchant sailor and seeker of rare artifacts, Caleb has lived a life of adventure in nearby San Lucero, the long-time rival of Alvair.
After her eighteenth birthday, Alexa’s quiet existence becomes tumultuous, and she realizes she does not need to seek to find adventure. Myths become real, legend becomes fact, and Alexa discovers that she possesses rare abilities which make her a target for both sides in a centuries-old struggle for power. She must use every resource available to her—including her talents with the supernatural Amulets— to help her friends, rekindle her romance with Caleb, and save her island home from destruction.
Katie Lynn Johnson’s Amulet Of Elusion is a coming of age tale set against the backdrop of war between two rival cities. Alexa is almost eighteen—the age of adulthood in Alvair—and is excited to finally get the chance to explore her oncoming freedom. This freedom, of course, means that she’ll be able to spend more time with Caleb, a merchant and a sailor whom she’s fallen in love with from the rival town of San Lucero.
At first, the story starts out with Alexa under the ever watchful eye of her guardian, Ivy, who has a very hard time letting Alexa have any sort of freedom—with good reason as Alexa is a lot more important than she seems to be. Throughout the course of the story, we find out exactly how important Alexa is and why Ivy has been so strict, and that Alexa has the power within her (and through her decisions) to change the course of the entire kingdom’s history.
I really enjoyed the strong female presence of this story—Ivy in particular. These women are fighters—Alexa has been trained by Ivy since she came into her care at eleven years old—and are more than capable at defending themselves, which is a nice change of pace from other stories where women are coddled and protected. Ivy and Alexa can and do take care of themselves—even if that means it puts them at odds with each other on more than one occasion.
I also enjoyed the romance of this story. I feel like it did a really great job at portraying the overwhelming way new love can be for two individuals, without seeming too stilted or unrealistic. The only thing that bothered me about Alexa and Caleb’s relationship was that there were more than a few instances where they were heavy-handed with each other—making decisions that they think are best for the other person, regardless of the other’s opinions on the matter. But, as with any relationship, it’s possible that this is something that they’ll be able to work out throughout the course of the coming series.
It was also nice to see the “normal” characters struggle with the “abilities” of the characters who are able to manipulate the amulets and use their powers. Often, “magics” are just treated as something that is normal, with little thought about how they would actually impact a person without those particular abilities. This was a nice touch and something that I wish more authors would explore.
It was also great to see Alexa struggle with her place in the world. You get a really strong sense of connection with her and what she’s going through. At the heart of it, she’s still a young woman in an increasingly violent and dangerous world; watching her struggle with her abilities and responsibilities was entertaining and believable and really solidified the connection I felt to her.
Though I’m a little tired of “prophesy” themed stories, I felt that Amulet of Elusion was original enough that the plot point didn’t take away from the overall pull of the story. It was definitely a different take on the “chosen one” story type. That being said, I had a hard time getting into this story in the beginning. The pacing was a little slow, but it picks up nicely about halfway through—and the stakes get much, much higher for Alexa and her friends.
I would have liked to have seen stronger antagonists. I felt a little like the main antagonists were just evil with not much substance—though I am interested in seeing how Queen Jada turns out in the subsequent novels, as she was definitely the most interesting of all the “bad” characters.
This was a very good start to a series and I think that it will only get stronger with time. There is plenty of action and violence, so I’d definitely recommend this for older teens who are looking for a magically themed, coming of age tale. I am excited, especially given the nature of the ending, to see how this story resolves itself in the next book.