Book Review Wednesday – Toxic

Toxic (The Trap Series Book 1) by Vicki V. Lucas

Amazon Book Description:

In a fantasy world, a reckless teen must join forces with a determined student and an insecure musician to fight terrifying armies and powerful sorcerers to purify the poisoned water that is sweeping across the land.

While facing global annihilation from toxic water in Eltiria, Kai is trying to save his sister from death. But when he seizes his only chance to make enough money to pay for healers, his plans are torn to shreds, and he finds himself battling monsters as he is chased farther away from his family.

Lizzy travels to a nearby city for safety, only to watch her older brother dragged away from her by monsters from myths. Running for her life, she must find a way to reunite her family as she is thrown into choices that lead her further from what she wants. Taryn knows it is his destiny to save the world through magic and is on his way to begin his journey to greatness. But then his beliefs are challenged as he is thrown off the path he has chosen for himself and into a life he never desired.

Guided by a mysterious winged horse named Eladar, they discover that the world is not what they thought and everything they believed was wrong. Can they locate the source of the poison and find their faith as they battle to find the truth in a world of chaos and destruction?

This book was recommended to me by another author in the Indie Christian publishing circles, so I decided to take a chance.

Plot – A

The plot of saving a dying world from an evil sorcerer may not be one of the most original in the range of fantasy plots, but I thought Lucas did a good job of making it her own. I didn’t feel that I was reading a rehash of a classic fantasy offering, which is always a good thing in my book. There was a distinct storyline that was completed in this book but the cliffhanger was written in such a way that I felt like there should have been more, which is a good way to make me want the next book if only to see what happens next. 🙂

Content – B-

There is no sensuality present in this book. The only language present is found in Kai’s humorous utterances – all inoffensive horse-related “swearing” such as “Stallion stalls.”

The main characters, Kai, Lizzy, and Taryn, do bicker constantly. Even after they’ve been reprimanded multiple times by two different characters, they fight and argue to the point that it really got on my nerves. It was extremely frustrating when these three teenagers (I also wasn’t sure how old they were except that Kai was probably the oldest) would work together for a page or two and I thought they making progress as far as maturity and then it was right back to the squabbling and screaming at each other. This wishy-washy footing with each other is also reflected in their spiritual journey. The spirituality is very clear in this book. There is a clear difference being drawn between the magic fueled by spells and the abilities given by Adoyni and Lesa the divine Prince who paid for freedom of the world with His life. The allegorical aspect is very clear and there is an interesting choice of turning a wind into a character, but the chapters written from his point of view were well done. The worship of Adoyni has essentially faded but while each of the main characters make a decision to believe in Him at different points in the book, they all immediately go back to being wishy-washy and turning back to the goddess. This is a huge frustration in regards to one character who believes then backpedals then believes then backpedals then believes then backpedals right until the very end. I can understand them struggling to keep the faith but I wish “one step forward, two steps back” didn’t apply to all three of them in regards to their interactions with each other and their spiritual journey. I really wanted to see at least one characters stay firm and help the other two stay firm in their own journeys.

There is a LOT of violence and darkness in this book. There are murders, people dying of poisoned water, bloody wounds, and a zombie army. Let me be clear that I despise zombies, I don’t like them on TV, film, or in books. HOWEVER, the Unwanted as they are called are not really the Hollywood type of zombies. At least, they don’t want brains and they can do more than shuffle so I could tolerate them more than usual. They are specifically described in legend as being caught between heaven and hell. These zombies also have black blood that spurts when they get a limb chopped off. There is one character who is badly injured twice and eventually dies from their wounds. Another character is described as losing so much blood from a head wound, I was a bit surprised that they lasted as long without true medical attention even from the head wound. There is also a human sacrifice scene, that wasn’t graphic.

Technical – A-

This book was well-edited. I think there were only three places where there was a punctuation error – a period missing or an extra space was between the opening quotation mark and the word. There were some issues with the narration. First, when we jumped to a different secondary narrator for a few sections, it was so far into the book that it felt a bit jarring to me. Second, one of the biggest difficulties for multiple narrators in the same place is avoiding the “I just went through all this with the other character” feeling, and while this particular sensation was avoided, there were pacing issues because we kept jumping back in time with the narrator switches, especially in regards to the final battle.

Final Grade – B or 4 stars

Overall, the book was okay. I didn’t love it but I didn’t hate it. There were some interesting decisions in regards to the narrators. But, I liked the feel of a fantasy world with winged horses (Archippos) and good and evil locked in conflict. The zombies…I can tolerate them this time. I do hope the more irritating aspects for the heroes’ characters are grown out of over the course of the next book. I will probably read Book Two just to find out what happens. I recommend this book for fans of fantasy books dealing with spiritual warfare and those who like Christian fantasy employing zombies. Recommended for ages 15 and up.

Toxic is available through Kindle and in Paperback.

Next Week – Fallen Kings by Sarah Witenhafer



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