Kingsguard: Freya Snow Book IX: A Mini-Review

Both Freya and L.C. Mawson’s writing have matured in Kingsguard, the latest installment Kingsguardin the Snowverse series.  The writing is more direct and the plot structure clearer than in some earlier instalments, although it is still a complex and convoluted universe the author has created.

In Kingsguard, an earlier episode in Freya’s life is central to the story: an episode the series reader will remember but of which Freya has very edited memories.  This adds an element of almost amusement and anticipation for the reader:  when will Freya realize?

Kingsguard is another solid addition to the Snowverse and its cast of diverse, original characters.

Trident, A Snowverse Novel, by L.C. Mawson: A Release-Day Review

I think I’ve lost track of how many Snowverse books there are now, but they keep gettingTrident better and better; more focused, the writing tighter, the characters more developed.  Trident, the latest in the series, follows Freya as she accompanies her friends Mel and Sarah to the underwater realm of Atlantis.  Mel is challenging the head of her Mer house for the right for Atlantean citizenship, and the quest she must undergo to gain that right needs all of Freya’s varied and multiple magical abilities to even give them a chance of succeeding.

Along with this fast-paced adventure, developments in both Freya’s personal life and in her existence in the Shadow Realm are entwined in the story, further framing Freya’s growth in her earthly life and in her life beyond Earth’s bounds. A fairly short novel at about 180 pages on my Kindle app, Trident kept me reading…I only put it down to watch the second-last episode of Doctor Who.  Speaking of which, I think there’s a bit of an homage to the Tenth Doctor in Trident – if not, then ‘great minds think alike’ (or write alike!).  Five stars.

I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Reaper: A Snowverse Novel, by L.C. Mawson: A Release-day Review

Reaper is the seventh book in the Snowverse series, continuing Freya’s adventuresReaper almost immediately after Enhanced.  With Alex, Freya is travelling in Europe, dealing with car-sickness and more: the diversity of supernatural genes she carries result in upheavals she cannot fully control, and her past experiences are adding to the volatility.

Freya’s difficulties in controlling her emerging powers, and in tapping into the ones she needs to access, reminded me (not in a plagaristic manner, but in a thematic way) of the “Threshold Sickness” of the psi-enhanced characters in Marion Zimmer Bradley ground-breaking Darkover series.  The disruption that uncontrolled psi powers can wreak, when an untrained individual accesses them, can have far-reaching and dramatic effects: a great subject matter for a book,  and I was pleased to see the issue addressed in Reaper. (By the way, if you’re a fan of the Snowverse, then I’m guessing you’re a fan of diversity in science fiction and fantasy – and if you haven’t read the Darkover series, give it a try. Yes, it was written in the 1960’s, but for early introduction and acceptance of LGBTQ characters, it was truly a ground-breaker.)

Lucy Mawson’s skills as a writer have blossomed over this series, and her depiction of Freya’s internal conflict about Alex, and her realization of how to access her Angel powers, are some of the author’s best writing. Freya is learning, too, to make the distinction between how her autism directly affects her relationships, separate from how her (unrecognized?) emotional reactions to past events affects both herself and how she relates to others.  I’m treading carefully here, because I’m allistic, or as my husband prefers, a neurotyp, but certainly Alex’s attempts to help Freya handle her reactions and understand them rang very true to me, after thirty-eight years of living with a man with ASD.

Reaper is short – 139 pages in my e-book edition – but it doesn’t suffer from that; in fact, I found it more satisfying than some of the longer books. It’s tighter, more focused on the immediate issues. Five stars.

I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Enhanced: Book 6 in the Freya Snow series: A Review

Enhanced, the sixth book of the Snowverse series by L.C. Mawson, is the most enhancedaccomplished and polished book of the series. Freya Snow, the magical, autistic, bi-sexual protagonist, has grown up; no longer a frightened and unsure teen, she’s a competent, capable woman no longer afraid to ask for help. And she falls in love for the first time.

Freya is still young, so she’s still growing into her powers, and still determining her place in the magical universe. Her self-understanding and her willingness to accept responsibility have matured along with her (or are those parts of the definition of maturity?). But she’s still making mistakes, of course, or there wouldn’t be much of a story!

I found this book to be tighter in terms of story structure and pacing than some of the earlier books, more focused and with some needed reminders of previous occurrences that influence the events in Enhanced. Freya’s central conflict regarding her Dark and Light bloodlines is furthered without dominating the story.

The author has created a complex and evolving world in the Snowverse, and I definitely recommend reading the books from the beginning to fully appreciate the character and conflict development. Five stars for Enhanced.

Hunt (Freya Snow: Book One) by L.C. Mawson: A Review

Hunt (Freya Snow: Book One) by L.C. Mawson

Freya Snow, the unknowing child of magical beings, has grown up in foster homes her whole life. Moving once again in her teens, her discomfort at a new situation grows as her powers begin to emerge and she discovers that the social worker who has organized her new home is actually her magical guardian and mentor.

Freya has only one friend, an older girl at her last foster home, Alice,who is high-functioning autistic and whose disinterest in most social norms and trends Freya shares. Unsurprisingly for a child who has moved multiple times and perhaps borders on the ASD spectrum herself, Freya finds it difficult to make other friends. But at her new school she is approached by the somewhat odd Damon, who is not English and is unfamiliar with many of the cultural references of the school and society. The two become allies and then friends as Freya’s world becomes much more complex, confusing, and dangerous.

The basic premises of Hunt will be familiar to readers of young adult fantasy: the magical child from another world whose powers begin to develop in their teens, bringing them to the attention of the powers of evil and good from their own realm. But for this premise to be convincing, the magical world must be internally coherent, fully understood by the writer, and that internal coherence conveyed to the reader. In the case of Hunt, this coherence is missing. While introducing such a magical world in small hints and explanations, to build interest and plot, is a valid device, in this case it leads more to confusion than epiphany. Whether or not this stems from a lack of understanding of her own magical world by the author, or a lack of telling the story in a way that explains that magical world, is not clear.

Hunt would have benefited, in my opinion, from being a longer book, told from two points of view, the second being from the magical realm, which would have given the author an opportunity to more fully flesh out the structure and conflicts of that world. As part of a planned series, these may be revealed in later books, creating from a promising but flawed first volume a substantial and fully realized universe.

My personal rating is two-and-a-half stars for this story from a young writer who is learning her trade. I’ll be interested to see how Lucy Mawson develops as a writer over the next few years; I think she’s worth watching.

The author provided me with a free copy in exchange for an honest review. The opinions here are completely my own.