Wednesday 3 June 2015

Book Review: Bruja

Author: Aileen Erin
Series: Alpha Girl #4
Genres: Paranormal, Fantasy | Young Adult
Release Date: 12th May 2015
Publisher: Ink Monster LLC
Source: Review Copy - Ink Monster LLC
Claudia de Santos has always looked out for every witch but herself. She fought from the shadows as her coven turned dark, and with a little help from her half-witch/half-Alpha werewolf cousin, Teresa McCaide, Claudia is doing everything she can to keeper friends and family in the light.

Now the coven has splintered into two factions: Luciana’s army of witches wielding dark magic, and Claudia’s few stragglers who fight with the wolves. War is coming, and it won’t be much of a battle if Claudia can’t find the spells to counteract Luciana’s demonic power. But Luciana strikes before they’re prepared, and Claudia’s twin brother pays the price.

Suddenly, going to Peru in search of ancient Incan magic doesn’t seem so crazy. Fighting evil will require a pure spirit, but her quest is full of temptations, including a handsome Peruvian guide with secrets of his own. Finding love is the last thing on Claudia’s ever-growing to-do list, but sometimes what you need has a way of seeking you out.
The following review may contain spoilers concerning earlier books in the series.
If you have not read the previous installments, please proceed with caution.

Anybody that has been following for any length of time will know that the Alpha Girl series is a series that forever proceeds to steal my heart, ruin me for any other paranormal series, and makes me really really really want my own wolf in my life, (alas, I shall stick to wanting my own cat-sized fluff-ball instead.) Tessa and Dastien's story has always hit a soft spot in my heart, as has the entire plot and collection of characters throughout the series, but Claudia has always been a character I've wanted to explore more, and I could not be happier than Erin not only explored her story, but made Claudia shine.

Instantaneously, I was impressed with Erin's writing abilities in that Claudia's voice was identifiably different from Tessa's in the series, and only too often do you find authors struggle to write different voices when taking on different POV's, but this was not a problem here. Claudia wore her heart on her sleeve and wasn't afraid to stand up for herself and the people she loves. She's such a strong character, mentally, physically and emotionally, and it's pretty much impossible to feel what she feels through her POV - she's so passionate about her beliefs and her feelings for the people important to her, and she fights her own personal demons everyday, and yet puts so many other people first, and it was nice to seriously be able to appreciate and experience Claudia putting herself first and making decisions for herself, not just for the benefit of others. Her development throughout this novel in itself was outstanding, and in my opinion, was so much better than Tessa's in the previous series instalments because Claudia, while supported, grew into herself and became someone she wanted to be, she wasn't developed through another character or a romance, but through herself, and that's what was most beautiful. Erin proved to readers that you can be a hero and do the right thing, all the while never letting go of dreams and making decisions for yourself, which is so lacking in fantasy novels.

Speaking of development without romance, the romance itself was in every way perfect in my eyes. No seriously, there's a level of insta-love within this series through 'finding your perfect mate and knowing it right away' and it's one the few features in this series I've accepted easily as it's pretty important to the plot, but the romance here was a whole other story. Beautiful, I'm telling you, it was nothing short of fuzzy feelings, adorable hand-holding, tender cuddles and so much pure emotion, I could not and still cannot handle just how damn cute Claudia and Lucas were. There was so much honesty and maturity on Lucas's side of the relationship - he never pressured, her never rushed and he fully understood that Claudia had a lot of baggage, both in her past, and during the plot with the affect Raphael's condition had on her emotionally, and throughout it all, he stood his ground and stuck with her, supporting her, guiding her and allowing her to come into herself, tell me that is not a wonderful love interest. Yes, their romance is a little rushed due to circumstances that come about during the novel, but oh man, I'm so on board this ship with my shippy feels. So much perfection between their emotions and their feelings and the cuteness and I just haven't got it in me to contain my feelings.

Oh, and can I talk about Claudia's other relationships with people around her, her family and her friends, because they were SO important in this novel. Her wonderful relationship with her bother was such a vital part of this story's plot and it was beautiful to be able to explore a different angle of families than we've seen previously in the series - the brothers and siblings and families in this series are just gorgeous, and they're portrayed so honestly and realistically, considering the actual genre, it's hard to not be impressed. Her family bond with Tessa is also really quite wonderful, and I can see their relationship growing more within the series - it's such a sweet, caring and understanding connection between them, wanting to take care of people, but needing to be reminded that they need time for themselves too. Not to mention Claudia's friendships and how loyal and caring those friends are, the relationships and connections in this novel blew everything else I've read in the series out of the water, and trust me, that's saying something, this series is up there with the best for me.

I wouldn't mind, but previously, this series has struggled with containing good single plots within it's instalments all the while growing the entire series plot, but Bruja pulled this off perfectly. I never for one moment felt as though Claudia's story wasn't important to the story, in fact, I feel as though is was so important to the series, it'd be a shame to skip it because of the different POV. The pacing felt stable and really well written, the development of characters was up there with the moving plot, and the romance never felt as though it took over the actual mystery, tension and dramatics that were part of pushing this book forward. Learning more about magic, learning more about the coven's and just how vast and magical Erin's world is, it's wonderful, and I would lap up anything this woman wrote in this world, it just contains to wow and leave me in awe, but Bruja took this to a whole new level, and knocked everything I've already read out of the park entirely.

I never expected to love and fall for Bruja the way I have - enjoy yes, but become one of my favourites of this year, never, and yet, it wowed me at every corner. Claudia's development and growth throughout such a special, yet short period of time, her romance with Lucas, her sibling and family love with Raphael and Tessa, her own important part to play in the overall plot which is bound to come to a climaxing end, there's very little, if anything at all, I can fault in this novel. The twists and turns from specific characters where fabulous, the horrible, nastiness that is the darkness in this series, and the pure and utter gorgeousness that is Erin's talent and writing, it was so completely amazing, I'm not even the slightest bit ashamed of my fangirling. If you're already a fan of this series, please please please do not skip this novel because it's from another POV, it's such a beautiful story from a character I already liked, that become a character I now adore with every ounce of my being, and if you're still considering reading it, please, stop wasting time and do it now.

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