I was very excited to read this book, because it sounded like my kind of story. And I was absolutely right. Aerenden: The Child Returns is a wonderful story, full of magic and adventure, that captured me from the beginning. I would rate it as a solid 4.8 stars. And here is why:
- I love the premiss of a world parallel to ours where magic is used instead of technology. And the world building was intricate and complex, living up to that great premiss. The plot was also very well constructed. We got to know Aerenden slowly, while still enjoying a well paced story and a lot of adventures.
- The pace is another thing I really enjoyed. I wouldn't call this book "fast paced", because the author takes her time introducing the world of Aerenden and building the relationship between the main characters and between Meagan and the world itself (since she is new to it). But it's not a slow book either. Plenty happens in a well set speed. There is mystery, but not so much you get a feeling things aren't developing. I appreciated the care Kisten Taber took with it. So many Young Adult novels nowadays seem rushed and seem to compromise world and character development in order to set a fast pace.
- The characters are very complex and well elaborated. I love Meagan and Nick, the main characters, but I also love all the secondary characters, such as Cal, Vivian and May. They are often flawed, but remain strong and relatable. You can tell right away this won't be that type of book where there are clear good guys and bad guys, and where the good guys are saints and the bad guys are devils. Of course we know who our heroes are, but things aren't always black and white, which make things much more interesting.
- And finally, Meagan and Nick's relationship was delicious to read. This is definitely not insta-love. Their relationship is built on friendship, trust and care - like relationships should be. It's nice to see a real kind of connection in a book. There were plenty of butterflies-in-your-stomach and isn't-it-hot-in-here-? kind of moments (which should always be, and are definitely part of real relationships), but they weren't forced or out of the blue. I loved that!
The week I read this was a very busy one, but it was great to know that this book was waiting for me at the end of the day. I felt real joy every time I opened it, and I would recommend it to any fans of High Fantasy.