Novels, Reviews

Elixir by Jason O’Loughlin

Here’s my first impressions of the second book in the Obsidian series by Jason O’Loughlin. Nothing too in depth, just my initial thoughts.

The second book in the Obsidian series leaves Britain and goes globetrotting with newly discovered powers, new allies, scarier enemies, Arthurian legends come to life and a race against time and poison,

You’d think, then, that it would be an easier read. Unfortunately, a combination of closely-packed text, long paragraphs and a lot of unnecessary sentences, I found myself struggling to read and to keep up with this book. This time, I think I can see about two sentences that could have easily been cut out. This book really could have done with the services of a professional editor with a very large set of editing shears.

That said, there was a lot of interesting stuff. Arthurian legend was mixed with Christian lore pretty well, adapting it to the established world building quiet nicely. In fact, the strongest scenes are the scenes with Paul Verasha, the Wandering Jew. I suppose it would make sense that he’s an immortal. Even without the Biblical backstory, he’s a fascinating character, always keeping you guessing on whose side he’s on and what he wants in the end. Even when his loyalties are revealed, I still felt there was more to say about him.

I also loved Bridger. Nothing like a good old fashioned immortal cowboy with a Winchester rifle in one hand and a jar of century old hooch in the other. I also liked Lars and his children. The Icelandic scenes were great and it was a bit of shame when the party had to move on to other places. While the POV shifts are now under control and easier to follow than the last book, it doesn’t stop the location going all over the place, including Lichtenstein and even a lost kingdom (which was introduced frustratingly late). It can get a bit disorientating and aimless at times.

The strongest parts are the fight with the Fisher King and the ferry disaster in Iceland. The fight with the undead was gripping and the fight to save the children on the bombed ferry was breathless. It could have been even more so if the author was a bit less wordy.

While Evaine and the Lovecraftian changeling (the author showing off his talents for new spins on horror clichés again) were both very credible threats, the Brotherhood (or is it the Guild? I keep getting those two mixed up) don’t seem to have the power to target Finn and his friends directly. All they do it send horrifying monsters their way, get tangled up in their own internal conflicts and unwittingly doom everyone with their mistakes. While that could set up for Agatha taking over and a mother vs son battle, in this book, it feels like the Brotherhood really aren’t a threat. Not good when they’re the main threat to Finn. In fact, there are so many characters that I often don’t know who’s friend and who’s foe. The character list ought to have been shortened a good bit.

Then again, that’s exactly what happened in this book.

Which brings me onto the main sticking point for me: Felicity. She may be a good ally to Finn when she needs to be but, at every other time, she lays on the comic relief way too thick. Her sarcasm became grating halfway through the book and, to be brutally honest, I’m happy the book ended the way it did for her. That is definitely not a good sign.

While the book is much more action-packed than Obsidian, it suffers from an overload of characters and of words. Which is a shame because, otherwise, it’s a fast-paced, ever changing story with an ending you probably won’t see coming.

3 out of 5 Stars

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