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Review: Of the Abyss by Amelia Atwater-Rhodes (Mancer #1)

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Of the Abyss by Amelia Atwater-Rhodes // VBC ReviewOf the Abyss (Mancer #1)
Amelia Atwater-Rhodes
Published: Sept. 27, 2016 (Harper Voyager Impulse)
Purchase: Book Depository or Amazon
Review source: copy provided by publisher in exchange for an honest review

Reviewed by: Beth

Rating (out of 5): 3.5 stars

Mancers, those who can work with different forms of magic, are outlawed. Death awaits those who break those laws, so while magic still exists, it is covert. A special task force is created by the King to find those who continue to practice, and to bring them to justice. Hansa is a guard on that task force, and he has always adhered to those rules. He has a fiancé, a good life, and a strict code of law. Until one day it all comes rebounding back on him when he tries to arrest a Mancer and it goes terribly wrong. Hansa, two other humans, and a couple of demons all end up in the depths of the Abyss, attempting to find the one person that can fix things—without realizing that the situation they find themselves in just may NOT be of their making.

The world-building in Of the Abyss was quite interesting, though at times (particularly in the Abyss) it felt overwhelming. There was a lot going on down there. However, the idea of these realms underneath the civilization as they knew it was fascinating. The Abyss itself felt like a parallel to stories of hell­—multiple levels, hot, and demons to devour those who didn’t belong.

I liked the characters—some more than others, obviously, but the majority of them were done well enough that some sympathy existed when they found themselves in dire circumstances of one sort or another. Umber, I think, was my favorite—the Spawn getting sucked in as he tried to do the right thing. There are definitely some romantic scenes between…unexpected…characters.

Having said that, I think the story bothered me in that sometimes there was a convenience factor in how the story was set up where implausible things could suddenly (magically?) be plausible. When everything can be blamed on higher entities of one sort or another, then responsibility for one’s actions tends to take a back seat and lessens the arc of the entire story. In addition, the ending really did not make me happy. Cliffhangers, I once read, are the author’s easy way out to try and make readers come back. Not one storyline was resolved in this book. Not a single one. The story just…stopped. It was very frustrating to read all the way through the book and not have SOMETHING be resolved for at least one of the main characters! Instead, right toward the end, two NEW plotlines came into play. No Bueno.

Overall, I did like Of the Abyss, and might be interested in reading further in the series, but I wouldn’t go out of my way to seek it out. I realize that, as the first book in a trilogy, there is likely a lot more to come that might clarify the ‘convenience’ factor that popped up, but between that and the abrupt ending, I’m not sure that I would want to spend my reading time on something that would leave me feeling more frustrated than thrilled.

Sexual content: sex

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