3 out of 4 stars
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Presence: The Marked is the first book in a new series by L.J. Branch. After her girlfriend’s murder, Abbie is hesitant to start dating again. Then she meets Kat, and nothing is ever the same again. Abbie is suddenly thrown into Kat’s world, which is filled with magic, supernatural wars, mages, and more. Kat belongs to a band of thieves, who are still in the process of completing their training. Using a special mark, they are able to recruit Abbie and her supreme hacking abilities for assistance in one of their missions. It should have been simple, but complications arise when the band is unable to remove Abbie’s mark. Abbie might be way more involved in this underground world than they all thought.
From the very first pages of the book, there is nonstop action. Several times throughout the story, I ended up stopping myself just to say, “Whoa, what just happened?” It is definitely what I would call a fast-paced book, and I could easily see some readers finding it a little too fast to enjoy. I, on the other hand, loved how there was just one new adventure after another. I do feel like I might need to read it one more time to take in all of the little details of the mythology and lore of the supernatural world if I were to move on to the next book in the series whenever it is available.
The writing style was quite unique, in that certain scenes were not necessarily told in chronological order. Some scenes also jumped from one location to another based on what was relevant in the story at the moment. Again, I could see some readers having a hard time following this, but I loved it. The visual descriptions of the scenes and the actions made it easy to visualize, and I could picture it like a movie in my head.
Given the massive amount of information that is packed into these pages, as well as the number of characters that are almost impossible to keep up with, I honestly didn’t think that I was going to end the book on a high note. I just thought that I would find way more negative things to say about the book than positives. However, the ending of the book came along and totally blew me away. It’s not often that I find an ending that I actually like, but this one really stepped up and filled that role.
Overall, I give this book a rating of 3 out of 4 stars. The complexity of the plot and the large number of characters might deter some readers, but for me, the excellent ending definitely made up for all of this. It was only the large number of errors spread throughout the book that detracted from my enjoyment of the story. With thorough and professional editing and proofreading, I could easily see this book made into an action-packed television show. I would recommend it to older teenagers or new adults who enjoy fantasy and supernatural tales.
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