Review: Broken Elements by Mia Marshall ★★★★

Broken Elements by Mia Marshall
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Series: Elements #1
Publication Date: July 24th 2012
ISBN: 9780985691615
Page Count: 332
Rating: ★★★★
Review Copy: Received from Author

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

Aidan Brook has spent ten years hiding from everyone she once loved, plagued by memories of one horrible night long ago. When her former best friend and partner in crime appears on her front porch, her self-imposed exile is brought to an abrupt end. An elemental killer is once again murdering her friends, and she is forced to 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.


REVIEW

A cracking mystery with great characters and a fascinating world of elemental magic users. 

I really enjoyed this. The mystery element was so very strong and compelling. You could get away with calling it Urban Fantasy, but perhaps Paranormal Mystery would also work as it was so centred around that aspect. It had a great cast of characters, awesome magical abilities and some surprises you just won't see coming.

The story is presented in the 1st person through Aidan Brook (f), a water Elemental (someone who can control water, call it from the air or from a direct source and basically make it do anything she wants) who has been in exile for the last decade after a tragedy forced her to leave behind everything she once knew, including her best friend, a fire Elemental called Sera.

I was pretty much hooked from chapter one. After a brief introduction to Aidan and her current situation, a blast from the past in the form of her one-time BFF sends her whole world off kilter, and the mystery that drives the book is revealed.

I thought the writing was excellent; intelligent, witty, thought-provoking. It immediately showed the interesting but highly awkward friendship dynamic that is left after Aidan's 10-year absence. Even starting out cold, not knowing these character at all yet, I felt the tension and lost years stretching between the two. Watching the former best friends walk that shaky line between wanting to fall back into their old, familiar habits and camaraderie, but holding back through fear of being hurt again. It was great stuff.

I found the character voices were very clear and distinct. It ended up being a really diverse bunch of people (and supernatural races) once the motley "crime solving" crew was fully assembled, and I enjoyed each character in turn. The secondary ones were just as well drawn as the main two, and I particularly grew fond of Simon :).

The reason for their gathering is that they, led by Sera, have all decided to join forces to end this mystery Elemental's killing spree once and for all. The killer is not being careful about revealing them to the human population, and that puts them all at risk. It was bad enough when it was happening 10 years ago, and Aidan's been having nightmares about it ever since. She can barely believe it's happening again. But when Sera reveals that another of her close friends, second only to Sera, has been murdered, Aidan has no choice but to return to the scene of the killer's, and her, crimes.

I thoroughly enjoyed learning about the magical abilities of the Elementals and Shapeshifters, complete with their full and fascinating origin stories. There were several expertly dispersed sections of backstory and species history. I could see the sections coming, but rather than feeling like I needed to prepare myself for a dispassionate info-dump, it was done deftly through conversation, sometimes in a story-telling format, or other times just through the narrative, and felt perfectly natural. Also cleverly interspersed were the clues, suspicions and conjecture regarding the elemental killer's identity and motivations. I did manage to correctly guess one of the big surprises, but was TOTALLY side-swiped by another. Which was awesome.

If I could wish for anything, it would have been for more indications of the budding romantic feelings between Mac and Aidan. I don't mind a slow-forming romance at all, but while I'm waiting, I love watching all the little clues, gestures and lingering looks, etc.. So there could have been a whole boatload more of that for me. Also, a bit more emotional connection to Aidan, which may come naturally over the series as I get to know her more.

To sum up, if you love a good mystery and powerful magical abilities and can appreciate well-crafted characters, get this book.

Highly recommended to fans of Amanda Stevens' Graveyard Queen series. UF for grown-ups.

4 Stars ★★★★
Review Copy: Received from the author for an honest review.

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