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Review: Faustine

Faustine is the first book in a new series, the Bonfire Chronicles, by author Imogen Rose. It was released at Amazon on February 27th and Barnes & Noble on the 28th in eBook format.

Goodreads description:

Who is Faustine? When Faustine Spencer was five years old, she discovered a secret that changed her life forever. At twelve, her parents sent her to Bonfire Academy in Switzerland to ensure that she received the training needed to control her increasing powers.

Three years later, Faustine returns to Manhattan. All she wants is to be a typical teenager, at least, one that’s part of the in-crowd at her Upper East Side High School. When drop-dead gorgeous Ryker, her long-time crush from the Academy, finally notices her, she couldn’t be happier.

However, her desire for a normal life is shattered when her father, a prominent sovereign, disappears after naming her as his successor. Her siblings begin to disappear, and Faustine finds herself in the midst of a power struggle. With her life in danger, Faustine must learn to follow one of Bonfire Academy’s most important rules: Trust no one.

***

Faustine Spencer may seem like every other Upper East Side socialite. She grew up with all the privileges that wealth affords – a nanny, doormen, car service, access to all the latest fashions and the opportunity to attend an exclusive boarding school.

But Bonfire Academy isn’t just your typical Swiss preparatory school where the well-to-do leave their children to a life of study, skiing and partying. And Faustine’s attendance isn’t optional.

At the age of fifteen, after three years apart from her family, learning everything she could from the Academy, she is allowed to return home to New York to her mother. Faustine just wants to pick up where she left off with her normal teenage lifestyle of school, shopping and hanging out with her best friend, Neave. But her return is conditional and failure to comply will have consequences.

Bonfire Academy has only three rules. One, you do not talk about the Academy. Two, you trust no one. And three, the most important of them all – never miss a meal.

***

Faustine is an elaborate, fast-paced paranormal mystery with a multitude of suspects and a “to be continued” ending. The story has a number of twists and turns and just when you think you’ve identified whodunit, think again.

While this book is just over three hundred pages, there is so much going on that it becomes difficult at times to keep up with what the many characters are up to, where they stand in the scheme of things, who they are and what Faustine’s opinion is of them.

There are an overwhelming number of key characters in this book, and with almost everyone a suspect with something to hide, and no one for Faustine to truly trust, the mystery becomes a bit muddled, as there just isn’t enough time to fully develop their characters and motivations. As the story continues there are more and more elements added into this mystery, more secret relationships discovered and more paranormal abilities attributed to each character than were initially known.

The action is virtually non-stop, so when the pace does slow to include some of the more normal events like attending school, relaxing or watching television, it doesn’t flow naturally. Even the relationship between Ryker and Faustine feels somewhat forced and in this book in the series no real explanation is given as to why the two who virtually had no contact in the three years they attended school are now an instant couple.

The complexities and pace aside, author Imogen Rose has created an engaging story with a slew of interesting characters. The author’s writing does flow, with brief touches of humor added in, and will keep you connected with the main character and the story as it progresses.

There are many characters still to meet, heredities to be determined, alliances to be uncovered and bad guys still to be caught.

And for those who haven’t yet read this book, you’ll soon find out just who Faustine really is.

Reviewer gives this book [rating=3]

On a personal note:

This is the first book I’ve read from author Imogen Rose. I own the first book in the Portal Chronicles but it is currently in my TBR pile. I’ve heard wonderful things about the series and the author so was excited to read this book.

It’s been difficult to write this review and even harder to write my personal opinion without giving away any spoilers, especially with the book teasing, “Who is Faustine?”

So, I’m trying to be as careful as possible, and if I’m vague it’s on purpose.

What I can say is that there is a lot that I liked about this story and some things I didn’t.

This was definitely an evenly balanced story of mystery and paranormal, which I liked.

Ryker is my favorite character. He’s very likable, helpful, supportive and oh so mysterious. Do I like him? Yes. Do I trust him? Not quite yet. We’ll see in the next book. But then again, I think no one is truly trustworthy in Faustine.

I also enjoyed that there were so many different characters with differing paranormal abilities and personalities. But with all the complex plot developments and changes, I would have liked to have seen more character development to go along with it. And I would have liked to see more development in the Faustine-Ryker relationship as they got very comfortable with one another very quickly when they had almost no interaction or dialogue in this book.

There were a lot of “surprise” revelations, which I didn’t like too much. There were times when some new piece of information was revealed that didn’t really have any build-up. It sort of came out of left-field but not in a shockingly surprising way, but more as if it was just thrown in to create a distraction or as a last-minute add-on.

I loved the elements of humor. I liked that Faustine was so temperamental, especially when she didn’t get her steak.

And I really do want to find out more, in the next book, about Taylor, Neave, Finch, Tessa, the twins, Audrey and Viola, Ryker, Faustine, and especially Faustine’s elusive sister, Kismet.

***

To learn more about the Bonfire Chronicles from the author’s website, click here.

Book trailer for Faustine:

Thank you to author Imogen Rose for the eARC for review.

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