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Wednesday, 16 February 2011


New review, fresh from the press.
The Lycetta Legacy
James Jossak
The Lycetta Legacy is a fantasy for young adults. Julia Lynch meets a mysterious stranger who reveals a startling secret about her family, a secret which will change her life.
At the beginning of the book, we eavesdrop on a conversation about a mystery man who has been banished for unknown reasons. The narrative distance here works well to create tension and intrigue in what is a short, effective prologue. As we move on in time, the world these characters inhabit is fleshed out with plenty of descriptive detail and there are strongly visual images for the reader to enjoy. The nature of the characters comes through clearly in their words and actions. A few deaths and some magic smoke are always appreciated in an opening chapter for YA! There was a nice sense of menace overlying the opening to this book that pulls the reader in.
When we meet Julia in a contemporary setting, the tone of the book changes, which worked very effectively. She’s a typically feisty heroine, without any annoying habits as yet. ‘Feisty’ without being irritating to teenage girls can be difficult to pull off but I felt Julia was a successful character in this respect. The meeting with the stranger who will reveal a secret is a standard fantasy device but this felt fresh and interesting enough to hold the reader’s attention and certainly by the end of the third chapter, I felt we would be plunged into a pacey adventure with plenty of twists and turns. A sort of Buffy meets The Da Vinci Code, which had me excited about what would come next.
There were a few areas where I felt a little more polish would help the flow of the book. The author tends to rely on adjectives, several at a time, to convey a sense of place and person. This can be repetitive and I felt the writing would be stronger if a more inventive approach was taken. This links in to a tendency to tell the reader a little too much, rather than showing them and allowing them to form their own decisions. An example of this is where we are told that Julia is headstrong rather than seeing her do something in a headstrong manner and coming to the conclusion ourselves. The writer is able to convey character through dialogue and action with ease and I would encourage him to have more confidence in this, and to eliminate unnecessary telling. I also wanted to be a little more convinced about why Julia’s mother leaves her alone with the stranger in chapter 3 as I didn’t feel that was credible yet. A little more controversially, I didn’t appreciate the cursing – not out of any dislike for that per se, but because I found it repetitive and it didn’t add anything to the dialogue or internal monologue in this book.
This is a story with plenty of potential for the target audience. Sometimes it takes several editing passes to get a book absolutely spot on, and opening chapters are notoriously difficult to get right. The writer has done a good job already in creating some interesting characters (including the dead ones!) and a believable, vivid world. He certainly knows how to use a hook to get us eager for the next chapter and the pace is excellent without sacrificing any of the descriptive detail. That’s a tough balancing act but vital for this genre. The Lycetta Legacy promises to be an exciting and original adventure for the intelligent YA reader.

1 comment:

  1. The author's pen name seems to be SJ Oaksley now. The book is actually quite good for those into Young Adult Mythical/Magic Fiction. Well worth the read!