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Friday, November 19, 2010

Book Review: The Sapphire Talisman by Brenda Pandos


Paperback: 320 pages
Published: December 15th 2010 by Obsidian Mountain Publishing
Purchase: Barnes & Noble

With the local vampire coven decimated, Julia and Nicholas try to begin a somewhat normal life together. Bound by secrecy from a shape shifter determined to see Julia’s world-saving prediction come to fruition, Julia isn’t allowed to tell Nicholas the leader survived, ransacking her happiness with guilt. When Alora returns, bent on revenge, the reunion forces Nicholas and Julia to choose what they are willing to live and die for.

Opening Line: 

"I sat in the waiting room together with my oldest brother Luke, my dad and Erin, my uncle's sister in upholstered chairs with wooden arms, my internal experience vastly different from anyone else's."

Notable Scene: 

"He fought the liquid, shaking his head as a huge internal struggle erupted inside him. The vampire within wanted to claw its way out and actually drink the blood. His eyes rolled back into his head and he groaned, trying to control the urge.

"Stop!" I screamed..." -Page 112

The Sapphire Talisman, the sequel to The Emerald Talisman, exceeded my expectations in many aspects- the writing, world-building and characterization have all greatly expanded and improved since the first book. This time around I found myself almost immediately ensnared within Brenda Pandos' skillful plotting and cleverly-crafted world building.  Julia and Nicholas both became more interesting as nothing was black and white anymore. Not everyone good was truly good. Not everyone bad, was completely bad. Like most people, everyone had their good side and their darker side—some hid secrets while others struggled with their true motivations and conflicting natures. The Sapphire Talisman was a pleasure to read and I found myself constantly trying to guess where Pandos would take the plot next. And I have to say, I didn't see half of the twists and turns coming. 

In The Emerald Talisman, one thing that kept me from connecting with Julia was her instantaneous, clingy obsession with Nicholas. When I caught up with her this time around, I was pleased to see how much her character had matured. Instead of relying on Nicholas to always protect her, Julia became someone who could stand on her own two feet and make logical decisions. In fact, it almost seemed as if a major upheaval had occurred in their relationship—now it was Julia's turn to call the shots while Nicholas took a back seat to the action. I have to say, I loved it. It was a welcome role reversal, and a bit of a relief. This Julia was the girl I wanted to see in the last book—feisty, courageous and logical, not so love-sick she couldn't think straight half the time.  Another aspect of the book I greatly enjoyed was being able to learn about the history behind Julia's family and her mysterious powers themselves. Pandos put a lot of time into the world building and the efforts of her work continue to shine through as the series progresses. 

There were a lot of internal struggles testing Julia and Nicholas besides the vampires, including the darker side of Nicholas' nature constantly threatening to break free. This sinister side of his personality appealed to me greatly. I have to say I agree with other reviewers who mentioned how enticing he became when he turned  evil. (I know I definitely found myself drawn to his character, but then again, I'm always a sucker for the bad boy!)

But in all seriousness, I thought Nicholas wasn't as two-dimensional in this book as he was in the first. Up until now, it had seemed to me as if his character existed purely to guard Julia. I didn't feel like I really knew him--who he was, what made him tick, his past, etc.  In this book,  I felt like I got to understand his character on a more deep level. I loved how new conflict was infused into his relationship with Julia, making the tension (and my interest) ratchet up quite as bit in the process.  I loved how lines became muddled- relationships were tested, some long-guarded secrets revealed while others remained in the shadows. 

Overall, The Sapphire Talisman was a strong book with a compelling and unique storyline. It was a pleasure to hang on for the ride and figure out where Brenda Pandos would take the plot next.  While I still can't say this is my all-time favorite vampire series, I'm happy to report that I've found myself becoming more and more intrigued in the world Brenda Pandos has created for us and will continue to check out her future books.

 Will Julia and Nicholas' relationship survive after all they've been through? I definitely plan on finding out. How about you?

1/2 Stars

Brenda Pandos is a web-designer who lives in California with her husband and two energetic children. Shortly after the birth of her second son, Brenda's oldest was diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder that turned her world upside-down. Her life became round the clock feedings with a newborn and a daily stream of tutors working to help her son. She craved a meaningful escape.
THE EMERALD TALISMAN is a compilation of what the author would like to happen if she ever happened to encounter a real vampire. Official Website 

Want more? Check out The Teen Book Scene for more tour info.  Brenda will be appearing Monday, November 22nd at a Fanatic's Book Blog. Be sure and check it out! 


Juju at Tales of Whimsy.com said...

Great honest review. The internal struggle part sounds interesting :)

Sean Grey Hanson said...

I do love the several unexpected twists of the story. I do enjoy reading it.
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