Friday, March 27, 2009

The Gifted Part 3: The Blessed

Title: The Blessed

Series: The Gifted #3

Author: Lisa T. Bergren

Genre: Adult Historical/Supernatural Suspense

Excerpt from Chapter 1 of The Blessed:

Outnumbered and surrounded, they were lost before it began.

Daria d’Angelo, unable to sleep upon the wet, rocky ground that seeped its chill into her bones, heard their stealthy approach. She removed the twill covering—an attempt to ward off the constant rain—and found her knight, Gianni, already beside her, face taut with tension. Grimly she took his hand and rose, joining the group beside the fire, faces betraying weariness and worry.

Daria’s knights had only drawn their swords and formed a line around the group when the intruders shoved Vito, bound and bleeding at the lip, into their circle. Gianni and Ugo narrowly swung their swords away, barely missing him. The knights held the line around their people, swords drawn. But for each man, three others were before him.

A supernaturally gifted group turn their faces to Avignon—and the church as likely as to condemn them as heretics as to welcome them.

Craft: The writing of The Blessed is clean and straightforward, pulling you in so far that the writing does not exist, only the story itself.

The characters are intriguing and varied, each with their own twists and quirks. The cast is fairly large by this third book, but Ms. Bergren has done a remarkable job with fixing who is who in your mind and reintroducing characters that there is only minor confusion with a couple secondary characters. (Of course, that could just be me.)

The plotting, like books one and two of The Gifted, does a slow wind up and fast pitch, the sudden intensity of the pace catching the reader off-guard and unable to escape after being gradually drawn in.

The Blessed is also the final book in The Gifted trilogy. Many series flub this most important end, but to my relief, Ms. Bergren pulls off the conclusion, bringing great satisfaction to the reader with the right mix of ingredients.

Content: I’ll be the first to admit it—The Blessed is a dark book. It’s not so much the external, like in the other two books, though it has plenty of that. Rather, there is a brooding sense of evil. Even good’s victories are somewhat dampened by the evil’s follow-up attacks, and the way evil twists good characters for its dark deeds—truthfully, it nearly did me in. This is definitely not a book for those who struggle with depressions or are under 16.

But that all said, the light is strong in the novel and never fully overwhelmed. Humor and glimmers of unexpected hope counter the darkness. Redemption of characters thought long lost challenges the evil’s perceived power. The sacrifices and strength of various characters under overwhelming odds is inspiring. And the light at the end! It makes the journey through the night worth it.

Summary: While the darkness keeps The Blessed from those under 16 or ones who struggle with darkness in themselves, this novel is well-written with a message of hope in a dark world. I highly recommend this book and the whole series.

Rating: Craft—5.0, Content—4.0, Overall—4.7 out of 5 stars

Read my reviews of The Begotten and The Betrayed, or order the books here.

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