First and foremost, these books are FUN! Michael Underwood wears his geek cred on his sleeve, much like Ernest Cline who wrote Ready Player One and Armada. However, instead of just dropping geek references, he weaves our shared love of all these properties, characters and culture into the fabric of the engine which drives Ree’s powers. Lightsabers are fueled not by crystals but by the world’s collective love of Star Wars. The characters speak in geek, mixing in quotes and phrases from Firefly, Battlestar Galactica, Star Wars and so on, without explaining where everything is from. Now, if you’re not familiar with the references, that can be a little befuddling – I know I missed a reference or two, mostly because I don’t play CCGs, but you don’t need to know that Psychic Paper is from Doctor Who to enjoy these books. The action sequences are exciting, it’s easy to get attached to the characters and things don’t always happen the way you expect, even if he does fall into sticking too close to some classic tropes.
‘Hexomancy’ is structured differently than the previous novels. While the first two-and-a-half books told their stories in a very linear fashion, ‘Hexomancy’ jumps months at a time. To clarify, this doesn’t mean time travel, but the nature of the conflict ties to the seasons, so more time elapses during this book. The challenges Ree and her friends face are ever-escalating, like boss battles that increase in difficulty. I was concerned that some plot points that have been hanging since the first book would be unresolved but Underwood resolves almost all the major conflicts while leaving himself options to take the series forward. I’m very much looking forward to the next book and the next arc!
Full disclosure- I was given the opportunity to read this book for free via Netgalley. This did not influence me to give it a positive review in any way – I genuinely enjoyed this book!