Title: Line of Descent
Author: James Derry
Genres: Fantasy, Horror, Paranormal, Thriller
Length: 248 pages
Following her mother’s funeral, Elise finds that, due to the betrayal of those she considered closest to her, she is in the process of being taken over by an entity. During the course of the 7 days it takes for the transcendence to occur, she can only count on her very recent best friend Mallory, who does not even know about Elise’s ability to see auras. Can Elise get through this and save Mallory in the process?
Line of Descent has some very unique elements, like the way Elise views auras. She does not only see colours – they are flower shaped and accompanied by smells and it is all exquisitely complex. Add that to a secluded environment (an estate on a peninsula owned by her filthy rich family), an eight thousand year old plot to maintain the entire family heritage alive, a perfectly normal human with plenty of baggage of her own and this book has a plethora of ingredients to make it a thrilling experience.
Throughout the book we follow mostly Elise and Mallory around, but we get to know a bit of a few secondary characters as well. And you’d think that being able to see auras – basically discerning what people are really feeling and thinking no matter what they say – would make it pretty clear who Elise can trust, but no. The author was very skilled with this. You see, it’s not really lying if you actually believe it. And there is no way to tell what people are hiding or lying about unless the conversation steers in that direction.
I had never read a book where the main character was utterly alone in her struggle. She cannot trust a single person in her life, even her own father. Sure, there is Mallory, but she does not even know what Elise is capable of or what she is going through. That was so daunting!
The writing was extremely approachable but absolutely superb. I particularly loved the analogies the author used, since I could connect with them. The simplest lines would resonate within me, like There was something about beaches in general that made the sky seem bluer. I had actually never thought of that. Simple things throughout the book that made me go that’s right! and feel like I was right there. My personal favourite: Think about the world the way it is now. Each generation mourns for the golden years of their youth. Each generation weeps that times have never been so bad. Then their children grow old and wail that things have become even more unbearable. Their golden years are the previous generation’s worst days. Absolutely brilliant!!
But please don’t take this as the writing being flat or something, there was plenty of excitment throughout the narrative. The sceneries described were just gorgeous. And some imagery was absolutely stunning, like Simona getting out of the pit. How eerie!
I kind of wish I had got to know a bit more about Elise, other than that she can see auras and that made it hard to make friends. And there were things we got to know through Mallory’s perspective that I would like to know Elise’s take. I found it a bit hard to connect with her – I could do it better with Mallory (her insecurities regarding boys made her very real) – but the narrative was so enthralling that it didn’t make much of a dent in my overall satisfaction.
I had a bit of trouble figuring out the extent of the entity’s power over Elise. She can obviously take over her body entirely (the visit to Mallory’s room is an example) but she does not even realize what Elise is up to. That revelation in chapter 32 lacked progression and was too easy – I get that that is the whole point but, really, it came out of nowhere, or at least it felt that way. I had not even realized that Elise had assimilated the knowledge to make people forget something – the transcendence was not complete, after all. Besides, the entity is used to living as a swarm, so how could it not notice that the swarm was gone?
I would have also liked to see the narrative referring to The One instead of Elise when that was the case. I suppose it contributes to the whole they are one and only thing but it just got confusing.
And finally, I would have liked to know what exactly Elise forgave Marta for and what made the Gardeners so special that they had those abilities.
So there were a few things here and there regarding plot and character development that I would have liked to seen further elaborated. I have to say my favourite part of the book were the first few chapters, I was completely engaged by the way Elise saw the world and that scene with Naomi was particularly remarkable. I really got an idea of what it must have been like for Elise to try and maintain a conversation with someone who says one thing but is screaming the exact opposite on the inside.
The ending left me sad but was appropriate, and there was absolutely no romance – yay!
Overall this is a very enjoyable work of fantasy which I am sure will stay with me for a while. It was not a linear story, it had depth. We are not only given a great fantasy adventure where the main character fights to get posessed, but are also made to think about important things like what kind of person do you want to be when confronted with such dreary situations and decisions. Would you care to keep someone innocent safe?
I highly recommend Line of Descent.
Disclaimer: I would like to thank the author for providing me a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.
Read from April 22 to 24, 2015