The Child Returns (Aerenden #1) by Kristen Taber
Seventeen-year-old Meaghan has no idea her perfect life has been a lie — until she witnesses her parents’ brutal murders at the hands of red-eyed creatures.
After nearly sharing their fate, she escapes with her best friend, Nick, who tells her the creatures are called Mardróch. They come from another world, and so does she. Now that the Mardróch have found her, she must return to her homeland of Ærenden or face death.
Left with little choice, she follows Nick into a strange world both similar to Earth and drastically different. Vines have the ability to attack. Monkeys freeze their victims with a glare. Men create bombs from thin air. Even Meaghan’s newly discovered empath power turns into a danger she cannot control.
But control becomes the least of her worries once the Mardróch begin targeting her. When Nick confesses he knows the reason they want her, she learns the truth behind the kingdom’s fifteen-year civil war — a long-buried secret that could cost Meaghan her life.
Excerpt: Book One: The Child Returns
The odor or rotting flesh overwhelmed her senses, searing her nose. Instinct forced her to inhale to clear it from her airways and she smiled with the realization Nick’s theory had been correct. The Mardróch’s power had no effect on her. She stood, lifting the boy into her arms.
A hiss of surprise erupted from one of the creatures. “The immune one,” he spoke, his voice a guttural mix of road gravel and raspy breath. “We’ve been looking for you. There’s a prize for your death.” He let out a rattling noise that sounded like screws bouncing in a tin can. Laughter, Meaghan realized, and her blood chilled. “Run,” the creature croaked. “It will make for a better story.”
He raised his hands. Blue lightning arced from fingertip to fingertip and Meaghan tightened her grip on the boy, backing away as she looked for a way out. Nick stood a dozen yards from them, unseen by the Mardróch, though he remained frozen as if hypnotized by their power. His face was white and she thought she saw the glint of tears in his eyes. He no longer blocked her. His fear rolled over her, followed by a deep grief that squeezed her heart. She hardened her heart against it, knowing as he did that he could not help her, and kept scanning the field. Nothing offered hope. The trees behind her seemed too far, but they were her only chance. She turned toward them as a flash of lightning blew apart the ground beside her. She felt heat singe herskin and swallowed, controlling her panic as she ran.
The Gildonae Alliance (Aerenden #2) by Kristen Taber
Several months after Meaghan’s return to AErenden, the kingdom’s war has taken a turn for the worse. The Mardroch army hunts the new King and Queen, destroying villages in its wake. And Meaghan and Nick, training for battle in a remote section of wilderness, are far from safe.
Danger hides in shadows and behind innocent faces. Allies become foes. Each day is a fight to survive. But in the end, only one threat matters. And it’s a threat they never see coming.
Excerpt: Book Two: The Gildonae Alliance
Less than a quarter of a mile from their destination, the air took on the distinct smell of smoke. Although it started out faint, within a matter of minutes, Meaghan could see a heavy black cloud rolling toward them, chased by an unmistakable orange glow.
“Fire,” she started to warn Nick, but choked on the word before she could complete it. Nick glanced toward the advancing fury, grabbed her hand and pulled her along behind him, hastening their pace toward the cave.
It all seemed too familiar, like she had returned to the fire Cal had set in the field. But this time, though the sense of déjà vu made it seem surreal, she realized Cal’s power did not control it. They had no protection from the flames. Her eyes stung. Her nose burned. She pulled the neck of her sweater over her mouth and breathed through it. It helped, but it would not keep her alive for long. They would only be safe when they reached the cave. Even if Cal had not yet arrived, they could teleport some where else. She did not care where, so long as they escaped the inferno chasing them.
She moved faster, watching Nick’s feet as the smoke grew thick, clouding her eyes. She recognized a boulder with a red vein running through it, and a stump shaped like a chair. They crossed the frozen stream, now trickling with new melt. A hundred yards remained. She could almost taste the clean air that would greet them when they found their way to the deeper caverns. The need drove her, and then something tugged at her awareness and she froze mid- stride.
The Zeiihbu Master (Aerenden #3) by Kristen Taber
Separated and on opposite sides of the kingdom, Nick and Meaghan face different pursuits which could change the balance of power in Ærenden forever.
While Nick trains the villagers to be soldiers, Meaghan and a small rescue party venture into Zeiihbu to find Faillen’s young son, before Garon can use the boy’s power to destroy those still fighting against his rule.
Everyone knows Meaghan could be on a suicide mission, but when Nick stumbles upon a secret concealed in one of the southern villages, he realizes that Garon might not be Meaghan’s greatest foe. The enemy most likely to kill her is someone who has also promised to keep her safe.
Originally I was going to do each book review separately, but that was before I started the series. This is by far my favorite series ever read, it is a true series in all sense of the word. Each book is written in such a detailed exciting way that the reader is submerged into the story before they realize what happens. As you finish one book, the next continues the saga where you left off- this is what I mean by being a true series!
After reading all three I am left with a longing, an obsession, to scoop up any that come after. Characters are personal, emotional, and so well developed. Each book goes above and beyond the average scale for excitement, adventure, mystery, twists, turns, etc. I had no idea what I was in for before I began this journey through the world that Kristen Taber created- each of the books exceeded my expectations for even the best of novels. I am planning on purchasing all of the books to give as gifts to my teens and possibly a few of their friends.
Kristen has seriously raised the bar with the young adult fantasy genre in my eyes. I don’t see how I could stop myself from comparing.
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