By Ari Marmell
Certain of her strength, she never imagined she might lose.
For the first time in the series the author holds nothing back, and it shows.
Once more Widdershins takes to the road, making her way back to Davillon, her home. But this is not the city she left behind. Rumors surround it, and a strange unease hovers over its streets. Desperate for answers, Widdershins hurries to a familiar haunt, eager to be reunited with familiar faces. But her joy is short lived. An old enemy has returned, visiting their wrath upon those Widdershins cares for most. But is this simply revenge, or part of a larger plan?
Questions pull readers right in, alluding to past events even as they set the stage for what’s still to come. In many ways this final installment is the culmination of everything the others have set up. Long kept secrets are finally revealed, creating a series of emotional scenes so poignant that they sometimes overshadow the main conflict. Of course no scene would be complete without Widdershins’ trademark humor. Occasionally a scene may stray into the realms of drama, or even horror, but Widdershins always manages to pull it back with her irreverent remarks. But even Widdershins herself is forced to finally confront the issues she’s been avoiding since audiences first met her in Thief’s Covenant, and while the wait has been long, those moments are some of the most satisfying in the series.
Tension continues to be a challenge for the series. Most scenes lack a strong sense of uncertainty; resolving exactly as audiences would expect. The story loves to flirt with it, cutting away just as something unexpected complicates the scene, but when the dust finally settles, the outcome is almost always exactly what one would expect, one step closer towards the big conflict that’s always looming in the background. And when it comes, it is raw and brutal and exactly what audiences have been waiting for.
Sometimes things can feel a little rushed; characters leaping to conclusions based on very little information, conflicts hurrying through their resolution instead of drawing it out. But for those who want a quick, easy adventure, the Widdershins Quartet will do nicely. It hits all the right notes while still managing to feel unique, as long as you don’t look too closely.
Spells of Wonder (Anthology) Part 1