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Wednesday, November 2, 2011

The Blue Flame by Barbara M. Hodges

The Blue Flame by Barbara M. Hodges
Publisher: Desert Breeze Publishing
Genre: Sci-Fi/Fantasy, YA
Length: Full Length (224 pages)
Heat Level: Sweet
Rating: 5 books
Reviewed By Geranium

Regan Cafferty believes her sister Kelsey is dead. But in truth Kelsey entered a rift, into the world of Daradawn, an alternate land of magic, with doorways that open once every seven years, and remain so for only seven days,

A guest in Daradawn for the past seven years, Kelsey has become a commander for Queen Tessa, but they are losing the battle with the Dark Mage Dirkk.

Regan Cafferty has a small blue flame on her shoulder, the mark the Power bestows on its chosen in Daradawn.

Kelsey believes her sister and the blue flame is what is needed to defeat Dirkk. She sends Mage Peter through the once again open rift to bring Regan into Daradawn. There, magic, danger and a long denied love wait for her, but only if Peter can convince her he isn’t crazy, and to return to Daradawn with him.

When I was a kid, I'd lie in bed and imagine that when I opened my closet door, it would open on a new world, so when I read the blurb for this novel, I pounced on it, and it didn't disappoint. Warning: this novel is hard to put down. I started this novel Saturday evening, and by Sunday afternoon, I'd finished. This new edition is a rewrite for the YA market, and it's the first book in a trilogy.

This book has well developed characters – I especially enjoyed the interaction between sisters Kelsey and Regan. Regan's initial reluctance to get involved in the affairs of Daradawn and her wariness towards mage Peter, when he comes seeking her in our world, had me on the edge of my seat, and her gradual conversion is well-drawn.

I also enjoyed the deft hand Ms. Hodges had with her back story. The background is woven in seamlessly, and the flashbacks especially well handled. The magical elements and their rules and limitations are coherent, and the array of elves, dwarves, dragon, and mages satisfying in their variety.

There is romance in this novel, but it is first and foremost a fantasy adventure, so be prepared. Yes, it's there for both Kelsey and Regan, but it takes a back seat to the magical adventure and world saving.

The rewrite is such that there is nothing in here that's unsuitable for a young person, but in my opinion this is at bottom an adult novel, with adult characters and adult concerns. Not to say that your teen won't enjoy it – they will – but it's not your high school magic adventure, this is hard-core world saving.

I highly recommend this lively, well-written fantasy, and I'm eagerly looking forward to the next volume in the series, which, unfortunately from my point of view, won't be out until February, 2012.