Evolutionary Magic, by Christina Herlyn
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Today, I’m reviewing Evolutionary Magic, the first book in an urban fantasy series by Christina Herlyn.
So, if you’ve got your favourite drink to hand and are all settled in, let’s begin.
In the second frontier era, many humans died due to catastrophic environmental change. Now, fifty years or so in the future, the moon has been replaced by an orbiting asteroid called Atlas, which causes most technology to cease functioning when it hovers over a part of the world. Not only does Atlas affect technology, but it is also said to have caused mutations in certain people, here termed ‘Evolutionaries.’
Andromeda Bochs is one such Evolutionary, serving as a monster hunter (AKA, Eliminator) in Kansas City, USA. Recently, Eliminators such as herself have been going missing and strange substances have been turning up all over town. Although Andromeda doesn’t start the story with a specific end goal, her journey takes several unexpected turns, which lead her to seek further knowledge, to help others like herself.
In this gripping fictional journey, ancient secrets await discovery while monsters roam the Earth, hell bent on destruction.
Can Andromeda uncover the reason behind her fellow Eliminator’s disappearances? Only time will tell.
As usual, there were many characters involved in such a complex fantasy tale. With that in mind, I have settled on a select three to discuss.
Twenty-five year old Eliminator Andromeda Bochs is an Evolutionary who works for the Mythical Creatures Elimination Squad (M-Kes). With super speed, strength, and endurance, she is a powerful force to be reckoned with. Her blue skin and fangs make her look anything but human, yet her sense of humanity is stronger than most. Such genetic mutations are said to be a result of radiation from Atlas, marking her as different from your everyday human being. As I read this book, I came to learn that Andromeda was a sarcastic individual, that she was brave and protective of those close to her, often becoming incredibly stubborn. She rarely let people get close to her for fear that she or they would get hurt in the process. She also proved to be resourceful, taking initiative in new situations, while often going against the orders of others. Overall, she was a fascinating and complex character whom I came to relate to on a deeper level.
Mac, an eccentric Scottish scientist made for a wonderful ally. Andromeda encounters him later in the book once she goes searching for answers about who and what she really is. Over time, Mac showed himself to be a helpful and highly intelligent individual, who couldn’t stand the concept of normality, with certain people being made into outcasts. He was idealistic in nature and had a generous attitude, always helping others wherever he could, even if he didn’t know the person. Mac’s eccentricities and supportive nature made him likable from the get go. Over time, he became a steadfast friend to Andromeda, the kind to have your back no matter what.
Josiah Hightower (The Doyen of Defence for Kansas City) is a ‘normal’ who is described as not quite normal, ironically. He is well built, towering over most and seems mysterious. We aren’t told much about him at the start, other than that he was Andromeda’s previous Warden, which leaves the reader’s mind to try and fill in the blanks as the story progresses. One thing which stood out to me was the way in which he spoke with such purpose, every syllable accentuated, as though every word itself were conveying some important secret meaning. Throughout the book, I wasn’t sure if Andromeda could trust him and went from thinking him good, to imagining him as the core antagonist. I won’t say which he turns out to be, only that it is a rollercoaster ride trying to figure out the part he truly plays.
Note: In order to prevent any major spoilers, I will not be examining the true antagonist in this review.
While reading Evolutionary Magic, there were several positive aspects I noted, which I have consequently included in a bulleted list below.
- The story is very atmospheric. The author works to bring all the senses alive, putting you in the scene with the protagonist using their excellent attention to detail.
- The first person, past tense narration works well, letting us into Andromeda’s inner-world.
- The flashbacks showing the tragic deaths of Andromeda’s close friends help to provide context for why she doesn’t let people get close to her now.
- The story introduced a unique magical system, which isn’t known as magic until a third of the way into the book. (That’s all I will say on the matter, so as to avoid potential spoilers.)
- The tension building is expertly executed, which made for heart-pounding, suspenseful action scenes.
- The characters were funny and highly likable, especially Andromeda and Mac. Furthermore, the way their personalities played off each other was electric.
- The story included lots of fascinating turning points which I never saw coming.
While reading Evolutionary Magic, I came across two quotes which really resonated with me.
1) ‘People don’t like being told they can’t do something.’
2) ‘Don’t fall in love with a theory so deeply that you try to force square assumptions into round facts.’
I found this second quote especially interesting because it speaks to a phenomenon that’s become quite common in recent times. In terms of people’s personally held beliefs, for example, people often cling to ideas of how things should be to the extent that any information which differs to their idea is met with swift dismissal and treated as inherently false. That being said, it makes me wonder why people cling to such theories, even if they are proven false. Perhaps they provide a sense of security and certainty in an otherwise chaotic world.
It’s safe to say that this second quote definitely got me thinking.
Overall, I found Evolutionary Magic to be a wonderful, imaginative story with a type of unique magical system that I haven’t come across before. In addition, the character’s personalities were electric and made it easy to connect with them.
My Rating: 5 stars.
Recommended to: lovers of fantasy books with unique twists.
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