2 out of 4 stars
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Agartha is the third book in author Jaylee Austin's Sedona series. This romantic fantasy novel follows the journey of a gemologist named April Lopez as she travels to Middle Earth to save the world from the dangerous witch Ursula. Along the way, she meets Sarielle, a man she feels an instant burning passion for. Tormented by memories from a past life with Sarielle, April has to discover who she is and save the world at the same time. Themes from Sumerian mythology, shamanism, and New Age spirituality feature prominently throughout the book.
I chose this book because I was surprised to see Sumerian mythology mentioned in the synopsis. Being a fan of that truly interesting period of history, I've often been disappointed by how overlooked it is in popular culture today. This book certainly didn't disappoint me here. Sumerian gods like Tiamat and Anu, angels like Metatron, and creatures from Scottish and Irish folklore are all intricately woven together to form the unique multicultural setting of this book.
I also loved seeing April's character development. She has to dig deep within herself to learn about her past life and decide whether she wants to stay in Middle Earth with Sarielle or go back to Sedona. April is headstrong and intelligent; she doesn't let anyone boss her around, not even overprotective Sarielle. At the same time, she has obvious flaws and weaknesses that keep her from turning into a Mary Sue.
However, the book isn't perfect. I felt the writing was rather lacking in terms of description. For example, Ursula destroys a village early in the novel. The scene is clearly meant to show how ruthless and dangerous she is, but the actual description of the village being destroyed consists of two bare-bones sentences. Even simply describing individual villagers' reactions could have made the scene feel a lot more real. I was surprised to see several important scenes throughout the book written in brief sentences like this. The author could greatly benefit from the classic writing advice of showing and not telling.
I found several typos and grammatical errors while reading this book, leading me to believe that it hasn't been professionally edited. In fact, I doubt it has been edited at all. Most of the errors would have easily been caught by a modern grammar checker.
All in all, I give this book 2 out of 4 stars for its interesting setting and its characterization. I'd be very willing to give it a higher rating if the typos were fixed and the writing was better.
The book features multiple sex scenes, so it's only suitable for an adult audience. I believe readers from all religious backgrounds can enjoy the book, but people more accepting of spiritual concepts are probably more likely to enjoy it.
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