"Marrow Charm" by Kristin Jacques
Author: Kristin Jacques
Narrator: Amie Lyn Hornick
Length: 10 hours 24minutes
Publisher: The Parliament House⎮2020
Genre: YA Fantasy
Series: The Gate Cycle, Book 1
Release date: June 12, 2020
"In his pursuit of the occult, the Third Reich opened the Gate to a realm of magic and brought the world to ruin. The Gate was eventually closed, but they were already in our world, and they were hungry." (The Lost History, Library of Avergard)
Azure "Azzy" Brimvine lives in a world decimated by magic, where humans have retreated underground from the overwhelming dangers of the surface. But Below is no safer than Above. Magic-borne plagues continue to eat away at the remaining human cities - a sickness that doesn’t merely kill, but creates aberrations from the stricken. People twisted by magic into something dark, dangerous, and powerful. It is an existence of fear and constant dread.
When Azzy’s brother Armin is infected and cast out into the Above, she sets out after him, determined to be there for him, no matter what he becomes. The world Above is full of monsters, both wild and cunning, some more human than Azzy was led to believe.
Armin is captured and bound for the auction block of Avergard - a ruthless city of inhuman lords and twisted creatures. To reach him, Azzy must brave the perils of the Above and the chaotic life forms created by the Gate. To reach him, she must find allies and forge new bonds in this broken world. And Azzy must reach him, before Armin’s new power is used to open the Gate once more.
I received this audiobook as part of my participation in a blog tour with Audiobookworm Promotions. The tour is being sponsored by Kristin Jacques. The gifting of this audiobook did not affect my opinion of it.
"Marrow Charm" was actually pretty darn good! I usually hesitate to take on anything YA, but in this case I’m glad I did, because what I discovered was unique, interesting, and engaging while clearly setting the scene for something epic in future books. I admit that I did have some issues with the overdramatized male voices and the characters' slow growth, but the uniqueness of the story, world, and relationships balanced any shortcomings.
Azzy was strong and creative, and it was interesting to watch her instinctive use of her magic and how it effected the world and creatures around her. At first, I was a little annoyed and thought it would end up being something of a deus ex machina that would save her every time, but that was not the case. Azzy still faced plenty of obstacles that required her to use her wits and native intelligence, and her good heart played as much a part in her forming relationships as her magic. Her brother was a little harder for me to stay interested in and I’m hoping that we get more development with Kai.
I do think the synopsis provided for “Marrow Charm” sets the reader up to expect more than what actually occurs. It mentions the Gate and that it might need to reopen—but the book itself makes no mention of it, so far as I remember. It piques my interest for the next book(s) but also left me feeling a little…like I was left hanging, waiting for something we do not get to here. This does not change my rating of the story, but I think it is worth mentioning to potential readers.
Regarding the narrator, Amie Lyn Hornick was an ok choice. Her portrayal of Azzy, Armin, and Kai were great, BUT she left quite a bit to be desired when voicing adult males. Those were way too overdramatized and false and did tend to jar me out of the story. The recording was professional and clean. I’m curious to see if a different narrator will be chosen for forthcoming books, or if Ms. Hornick practices her boy voices. I’d be fine with either.
Bottom line: Unique, interesting, intriguing, and a great beginning to what I’m hoping will be a great series. If you are looking for something different in the post-apocalyptic genre and something that has a gritty-but-relatable young female heroine, I highly recommend “Marrow Charm” to anyone.