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The Elemental by Shannon Mayer

Complete series with 7 novels and a novella.
Genres: urban fantasy
Main Series: Rylee Adamson
Companion Series: Rylee Adamson Epilogues
Sequel Series: Questing Witch

Series Blurb:

Larkspur is an Elemental without any elemental magic. Or is she? When she attacks her queen, she is given two choices: banishment or to training to become a Guard. Then a deadly illness sweeps across the population, and there is more to this illness than meets the eye. After that, it is just one problem for Larkspur to solve after the other. 

Reading Order:

1. Recurve
2. Breakwater
3. Firestorm
3.5 Peta
4. Windburn
5. Rootbound
6. Ash
7. Destroyer

Review:

The Element is the first spinoff to the Rylee Adamson series. The series does a good job of establishing itself as a story separate from the main series. In fact, there are only hints in this first book that they are even connected in the same world at all. The first half of the series takes place over twenty years prior to the start of the Rylee Adamson series, while the second half takes place after the events of the main series. While this can be read as a standalone series, I really don’t recommend  it as the second half of the series does rely a bit on knowledge of the main series.

Larkspur is our typical urban fantasy female protagonist. She is (becoming) a badass, who won’t take shit from anyone. She is also the “special” one in the series, with all the uniqueness that it entails. In Lark’s case, in this series’ case, she is something rare and almost instinct in their world. She is an outcast. She also has the sordid past, mired in blood and death and pain. She hits all the urban fantasy protagonist checkboxes. Throughout the series she becomes stronger, both in strength of will and strength of power. Yet at times she just grows powers when they’re needed exactly as they are needed.

The world is very basic and insular. The entire series focuses on Elementals, who keep only to their own kind, and then again further only to their own elemental kind. The elementals are really not very good peoples, either. They don’t help each other out at all. They basically live in hatred. It isn’t a good look. And their leaders are basically all completely insane.

The books are very action packed. They start and they run and run until their end, and then they finish and you have to read the next book. They rarely have cliffhangers, but they often have the feel of a cliffhanger because of how much is left unaccomplished with each book. Poor Larkspur just doesn’t get breaks. It is also made clear that Lark is probably just never going to get a break until the series is over. 

The plots aren’t too special. Go here, defeat the bad thing. Run into lots of trouble. Have to deal with crazy rulers. Be hated by everyone. Have a lot of the plot hinge on miscommunication. No one cooperates, everyone hates each other. Frustrating, but not uncommon. Everything is centered around collecting these powerups, and then midway through the series it is all undone in a backwards motion. I believe the words “Woops, shouldn’t have done that!” were uttered at some point, probably paraphrasing here. Really, REALLY frustrating.

The real annoying thing is that nothing stays the same. Every book, the story changes. People lie to Larkspur, when it seemed like truth as it was happening. Nothing stays the same or stays the way it is set up. All so Shannon Meyer could have artificial twists and turns throughout the series, to keep the reader interested. It all felt artificial and annoying to me. We could learn that the sky is blue and learn in 100 pages that really it is a deep, deep shade of burgundy, we were just convinced to believe that it was blue. That is the way it feels.

The series really lost itself midway through. There was more than just the backtracking of the story to date, which was so aggravating. There was also an entire book from the point of view of one of Larkspur’s lovers. There were the time jumps where nothing happened until everything happens again when Larkspur can join in. Because yeah, big bad is definitely going to wait. Everything felt like a game.

Yet the end was, in a few ways, worth it. I was so angry for Larkspur. They have ruined her entire life by playing their dumb fucking games. Which meant that everyone flipped positions about 10 times throughout the course of the series to make this happen. Yet, the ending actually is the ending the series deserved. I was glad.

Even though I’ve completely written of reading any more spinoffs from this author.

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