Earth (Elemental #1)

EarthBy Shauna Granger

Self Published
Publication Date: May 1, 2011
Genre: Young Adult Paranormal
Source: Author

Shayna and her two best friends have the abilities to manipulate and control the four elements, earth, air, water and fire. While learning to hone their growing powers, they discover a new and malicious presence in their sleepy beach town. Someone is performing blood magic and threatens to expose their small magical community. So far only small animals have been slaughtered, but then the nightmares start.

Shayna suffers nightmares of being chased and sacrificed only to wake up bloodied and bruised. She thinks her magical blood is the ultimate target for the final blood rite. When an innocent girl, Tracy, is kidnapped Shayna knows it’s only a ploy to draw her out; she can’t let someone die because of her.

Goodreads Summary

High school students Shayna, Jodi and Steven aren’t your ordinary teenagers – they’re also strong practicing witches, naturally able to speak to and control the elements. Shayna’s gifts have always been strongest, but they’ve been manifesting even more rapidly lately. She’s having the same dream each night about being chased through the woods by something evil and when she wakes up, she bears the marks of the chase.

Just as two new boys show up at school, evidence of what could be satanic worship is discovered near town. Shayna, Jodi and Steven try to use their powers to figure out if the twins could be behind the abandoned rituals – because Shayna knows that her escalating dreams of being hunted by evil are related to whatever’s going on.

I have a big sweet spot for a well-done story with witches in it and not just because of my lifelong coveting of magic ruby slippers (you know I was dying to work that into a review of a book about witches). I’m really fascinated by spells and the hardware, but it has to feel authentic on some level even an amateur like me can sense and this does.

The story pretty much set off like a rocket from the first dozen pages or so and didn’t stop until the end – there really aren’t a lot of pauses in the action. Shayna is manifesting new powers and I was dropped right into the friendship between her, Jodi and Steven with little to orient me. There was a little info dump to explain things and their little “superhero” names (Terra, Fae and Drake/Flamer) sort of grated, but it brought me up to speed almost immediately which was perfect for the fast plot because trouble had already begun.

I liked that although the potential satanic worship site was the main concern for the trio, it wasn’t the only one. They had a friend who was being abused that they were trying to help. Steven’s niece wouldn’t sleep in her bedroom, so it needed a cleansing. There was always research to be done and then there were mundane things like fighting over music in the car and school – these three actually went to school, worried about being tardy, made cookies in Home Ec. It sounds like a lot to come together in a story, but when it all came together in Shayna and became something she had to deal with as she handled what was going on, it worked.

The relationships between Shayna, Jodi and Steven were nicely layered – these weren’t people who always got along perfectly and told each other everything. The author didn’t just drop it all on the table either. Because the story is narrated by Shayna, a lot of it goes half over her head. You know Jodi has some issues with her but you don’t know what. You know Steven knows what they are, but he’s not saying. You know there’s more to Steven than what he’s showing, but he spends so much time acting like the typical “gay friend,” that he’s hard to figure out.  Yet it’s clear that they love each other.

I really loved Shayna and all of her brains and powers. I secretly always wanted to be some sort of supergirl, so she was exciting to have as a narrator. She wasn’t perfect either, which made her better – having all those abilities comes with responsibilities and unchecked, leads to a level of arrogance. She also occasionally ate like a pig – so it was after she depleted her protein resources using her powers, it was still fun to see her bark at a waitress for food.

It was a minor one, but the weakest spots in the book for me were the addition at school of the twins Ian and Jensen and their involvement with Shayna and her friend, the abused girl Tracy. It made obvious sense within the story; it just didn’t always feel connected because Ian especially felt like he didn’t really appear that much. I wish Jensen had established a stronger relationship with Shayna too. Maybe there’ll be more of him in the second book, but before the final scenes, I wanted something that connected them more.

My Summary: This was an exciting book, one with really superb dialogue and details. I liked the premise before I even started and enjoyed it even more once I was submerged in it. Shayna was a great narrator, a bright and interesting girl with some kick ass powers that I’m completely jealous of. I love that each Elemental is so different and look forward to each of their books.

My Rating: A-

Barbara

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