Official Review: Braknovia Forest by J.T. McEwan

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Official Review: Braknovia Forest by J.T. McEwan

Post by ButterscotchCherrie »

[Following is an official OnlineBookClub.org review of "Braknovia Forest" by J.T. McEwan.]
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3 out of 4 stars
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An arrogant blond man will stop at nothing to make his power absolute. He schemes about how to subdue those who cannot resist him and eliminate those with the strength to fight him. Where could this book be set? Some of the action in the young-adult fantasy trilogy Braknovia Forest by J. T. McEwan takes place in our world, but most is in the realm of Braknovia. I'm glad I could review all three parts together as the individual books - The Three, The Two Keys and Darkland Secrets - would not stand well alone.

Seventeen-year-old James Brendal, his older brother Hayden and his younger sister Isabella are being raised by foster parents after their father was murdered in an incident that rendered their mother catatonic. James does not care for everyday school life, preferring to lose himself in fantasy books. He encourages Isabella when she shows him her own stories. When the three youngsters find themselves using supernatural powers against attackers in an alley, a cloaked man named Kern whisks them off to a forest. This covers a large swath of Braknovia, where they have been brought to restore balance by tackling Malakite, the blond tyrant who annihilated their parents. Their writing abilities will gain a new significance. Will James learn to manage his power in time? Hayden has always been different from his siblings. Could his anger and vengefulness compromise the destiny of The Three, as they are described in a prophecy?

Although prophecy is important to this story, this does not make it predictable. Malakite possesses a Book of Prophecies that rewrites itself as events take new turns. This innovative idea added an element of fun. McEwan displayed formidable imagination in creating the realm of Braknovia. The characters' adventures take them to infested marshes and polluted lakes as well as mountain villages bright with flower gardens. The protagonists encounter many creatures, some friendly, others vicious. But along with the pragmatic prophecies, that can change.

The changes in the course of events relate to a leading theme of the story, which is the power of choices to alter outcomes. This could inspire a young-adult audience. There is one particular plot twist which, although not at all inappropriate for young people, might be better appreciated by adults. I cannot say anything specific because that would constitute a spoiler. The twist involves a paradox whose explanation is left vague, although that's permissible under poetic licence.

In that connection, I could suspend disbelief about how everyone in Braknovia spoke English, even when a character who was raised by a wolf seemed to be able to read. After all, this is a magical world where the characters' special powers form a thrilling part of the narrative. However, in this mediaeval-style setting without telephones or televisions, the word "teleport" is jarring. Another word would work better to describe the power of instant travel, a theme that was also affected by some inconsistencies.

At times, the way the characters whizzed from place to place became dizzying. This could perhaps be cut somewhat, especially as the books were a little long for the young-adult genre. The pacing was generally good, although the story suffered from a slow start with regard to the role of the female characters. At first, all we saw was matronly women cooking and knitting or girls squealing and giggling. Powerful females emerged in time, and Isabella's courage and resourceful confidence would make her an outstanding role model.

The strong women represent an excellent aspect of a story that was generally enjoyable. It would be great to see a more polished version, not least because the trilogy does not seem to have been professionally edited. There were many spelling and grammatical errors throughout. Although these were distracting at times, this was an immersive, escapist read overall. As this work has many strengths and a few areas for improvement, I rate it three out of four stars. It can be appreciated on different levels by young adults or older fantasy fans. It satisfies as an epic journey and coming-of-age tale. Readers may also ponder the deeper messages about the best ways to combat power-crazed blond men.

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Post by Julius_ »

A book about a power hungry man who'll stop at nothing to rule everyone. Sounds interesting, I'll check it out. Thanks for the review.
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Post by NetMassimo »

Possibly I'm old for this kind of stories - or not, considering your closing statement - but this trilogy seems to have interesting setting and characters. Thank you for your interesting review!
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Post by ButterscotchCherrie »

Julius_ wrote:
14 Feb 2020, 01:31
A book about a power hungry man who'll stop at nothing to rule everyone. Sounds interesting, I'll check it out. Thanks for the review.
It was satisfying in that you could both enjoy the story and think about the themes. Thanks for your interest!
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Post by Amy747 »

A book that rewrites itself is such a great idea. It gives the author a way to change the story at will.

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Post by ButterscotchCherrie »

Amy747 wrote:
14 Feb 2020, 07:26
A book that rewrites itself is such a great idea. It gives the author a way to change the story at will.
Yes ... you kind of still know how it ends, but not really.
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Post by Maria Esposito »

I’m glad you found the “strong women” aspect to be the highlight of this series. This genre offers too many damsels in distress for my taste, and i’m glad that this book inverts the trend. Thank you for a great review!
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Post by ButterscotchCherrie »

espo wrote:
16 Feb 2020, 15:40
I’m glad you found the “strong women” aspect to be the highlight of this series. This genre offers too many damsels in distress for my taste, and i’m glad that this book inverts the trend. Thank you for a great review!
As I say, they weren't doing much but the dishes at first ... but it got better! Thanks for your comment.
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Post by Ellylion »

I love exploring interesting new worlds and sorry to learn about lack of editing. Hope, the author fixes all the issues. The book sounds to be very interesting! Thank you for a great review!

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Post by ButterscotchCherrie »

Ellylion wrote:
24 Feb 2020, 06:30
I love exploring interesting new worlds and sorry to learn about lack of editing. Hope, the author fixes all the issues. The book sounds to be very interesting! Thank you for a great review!
It's an intriguing and well-crafted world. Thank you for your kind comment!
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Post by Miriam Molina »

The author may have a winner here; I like the self-adjusting prophecies. Too bad there are regrettable flaws. Why do I feel the author has a grudge against blond men?

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Post by ButterscotchCherrie »

Miriam Molina wrote:
26 Feb 2020, 18:28
The author may have a winner here; I like the self-adjusting prophecies. Too bad there are regrettable flaws. Why do I feel the author has a grudge against blond men?
Well, the villain seems to resemble Lucius Malfoy, the way he's described. What is it with blonds and evil? Thanks for commenting!
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Post by Shabram22 »

It sounds like a great story to read. I like medieval-style stories. Thanks for a great review!

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Post by ButterscotchCherrie »

Shabram22 wrote:
18 Mar 2020, 14:40
It sounds like a great story to read. I like medieval-style stories. Thanks for a great review!
It was a fun world to read about. Thank you for your kind comment!
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Post by SunVixen »

This sounds like a good book. Thanks for the wonderful review!

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