Saturday, January 9, 2016

#Saturday Review - The Last Dream Keeper by Amber Benson (Urban Fantasy)

Series: The Witches of Echo Park 2
Format: E-ARC, 320 pages
Release Date: January 5, 2015
Publisher: Ace
Source: Publisher via NetGalley
Genre: Urban Fantasy

In the second Witches of Echo Park novel, one coven must keep the world in balance and stand against a rising darkness.

Lyse MacAllister did not step into an easy role when she took over as master of the Echo Park coven of witches after her great-aunt Eleanora’s death. As she begins to forge the bonds that will help her lead her sisters, she struggles to come to terms with her growing powers. And she soon faces a deadly new threat. A group of fanatics intent on bringing about the end of times has invaded the witches Council—but the Council is turning a blind eye to the danger growing in its midst.

Only one witch is prophesied to be able to stop the encroaching darkness. And if Lyse and her blood sisters are to have any chance at protecting all we know from being lost forever, they must keep her safe—no matter what the cost…

The Last Dream Keeper is the second installment in The Witches of Echo Park series. This is a series that doesn't feature just one main character, but FIVE witches who make their homes in Echo Park. The women of the Echo Park coven are currently facing off against a group known as The Flood. The Flood are willing to bring back the Salem Witch trials in order to rid the world of the covens since they are responsible for maintaining balance in the world. The Flood has gone to extreme lengths to destroy the covens including torturing, hanging, burning at the stake, and experimenting on witches to create even more disturbing creatures. 

Benson's characters are women that have a variety of different magical skills from clairvoyance, tarot card reader, herbalist, empathy and Dream weaver. But, it is Lyse who may or may not have the cumulative ability of all of them. It is Lyse who now has the leadership of the coven after pretty much having everything dropped into her lap during the previous novel. While I would definitely say that Lyse is the most prominent character in this book, I would not discount, ignore, or dismiss the rest of the coven members for fear of missing out on something important. And, lots and lots of twisted and shocking things happen to our Echo Park Coven in this installment.

Elyse (Lyse) MacAllister - grew up in Echo Park with Eleanor then moved to Georgia where she made her own life. Lyse discovered that the former now deceased coven leader is actually her Grandmother and that she is expected to step up and take her place. Lyse has a long way to go in order to be as powerful as her grandmother was. But, a surprising revelation in this story may give her just the power to stand up to evil. She has found a group of women who are much more knowledgeable, and in reality, one of the others should have been chosen as leader. Lyse has some major issues to deal with in this book. If she can't, her coven may not last much longer. 

Daniela is the empath of the coven. She wears gloves, and hates to be touched because she can see things she doesn't want to see. She's got a special fondness for Lyse because she sees how much Lyse is struggling with what has been put on her shoulders. Daniela is the character I feel the most for because with her empathy abilities, you never know when they might strike and disable her forever. Alas, I would be more than acceptable to a Daniela/Lyse romance if Benson so chooses.

Lizbeth is the youngest member of the group, and half sister to Weir, who had a momentarily relationship with Lyse. Lizbeth has the most important job of all the coven witches this time around. She is the Last Dream Keeper. Now that she can actually speak, it is her job to get the world out about what the Flood is doing so that they can be stopped. But, Lizbeth falls into the lure of a character named Temistocles who history says is a real life character. Not sure where that story line is heading, but will be watching for the third installment to find out.

Arrabelle (Bell) is the oldest member of the coven now that Eleanor has died. She should have been the heir to Eleanor, but Lyse was chosen for the job instead. I don't necessarily see any outright anger towards Lyse, but she is perhaps a bit disappointed that a rookie has taken the reigns of the coven. Bell, as she is called, is also the coven's herbalist. I feel as though Bell is probably the mother figure that Lyse needs to hold herself together.

Devandra (Dev) is the final member of the coven, and the deepest one in the book. She has two daughters, one of which is probably as powerful as Lyse can be once she understands her powers. Dev is the diviner/tarot card reader of the group, and her family is more than put through the ringer by a character I am going to call Doubting Thomas. Like, the rest of her coven, Dev's experiences in this book are downright brutal and heart breaking. I can't even tell you how much my heart hurt after finishing this book.

I look forward to seeing if the publisher picks up book # 3 in this series so that readers will be able to follow what happens to the Echo Park coven after their most difficult challenge yet. 

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