This author participates in the Readers' Favorite Book Review Exchange Program, which is open to all authors and is completely free. Simply put, you agree to provide an honest review an author's book in exchange for the author doing the same for you. What sites your reviews are posted on (B&N, Amazon, etc.) and whether you send digital (eBook, PDF, Word, etc.) or hard copies of your books to each other for review is up to you. To begin, click the purple email icon to send this author a private email, and be sure to describe your book or include a link to your Readers' Favorite review page or Amazon page.
This author participates in the Readers' Favorite Book Donation Program, which was created to help nonprofit and charitable organizations (schools, libraries, convalescent homes, soldier donation programs, etc.) by providing them with free books and to help authors garner more exposure for their work. This author is willing to donate free copies of their book in exchange for reviews (if circumstances allow) and the knowledge that their book is being read and enjoyed. To begin, click the purple email icon to send this author a private email. Be sure to tell the author who you are, what organization you are with, how many books you need, how they will be used, and the number of reviews, if any, you would be able to provide.
Reviewed by Jamie Michele for Readers' Favorite
Essence of Life by Darren Boeck is the second book in the coming-of-age fantasy series The Firenight Prophesies, preceded by book one, Gifts of Fire and Ice. The book begins with Serg, Blur, and Nola in a precarious position as they navigate their abilities in a situation that, by all appearances, allows freedom of movement, but under a watchful eye it really isn't. Their escape from the Fire Empire and the clutches of Nola's brother, Emperor Gander, is tenuous at best as they are doggedly hunted. Their friends, Regel, Telson, and Kern, have been taken captive with little in the way of hope, given that they have no way to communicate or send word out about what's happened to them, making rescue by their former Fire Empire friend almost impossible. As Serg, Blur, and Nola traverse the landscape, they soon discover that they have no choice but to return to the East and into the dangerous belly of the Fire Empire.
Essence of Life is a story that takes some time to get into, at least for those of us who have started with book two. Thankfully, Darren Boeck drizzles backstory over a dense layering of subplots that allow for a catch-up before the book barrels full steam ahead. The story is narrated through many points of view, even including Blur's wolf Whisper, as the three main leads start to realize they are not children anymore. I enjoyed the emergence of two romances that simmer just beneath the surface without detracting from a seemingly clear-cut mission that has a tendency to twist itself in unexpected ways. The writing is mostly clean even if it isn't entirely tight, with moments that feel a little ham-fisted and some narratives that border on cliche. The fact that these didn't hinder the reading experience says a great deal about the world-building and character arcs that take place, my personal favorite being the plucky and wildly entertaining Plisha. I have no doubt this series will find a welcoming legion of fantasy fans who will enjoy it immensely.