Monday, December 18, 2017
Book Review of Unbalanced by Linda Workman-Crider
Review by: Linda Workman-Crider
Unbalanced is a story repeated throughout history between the powers of Dark and Light, a story of destiny, a story of elemental magic, and of being persecuted simply for being born different and surviving thus far. It is also a story of ill-fated love and the precarious balance of self-protection versus trust that plays out in the lives of all of us.
Some books defy a summary in paragraph form that does the storyline any justice. In some books, the character’s individual stories are so intertwined and interdependent, that excluded characters to define only two main characters also seems an injustice to the author’s work. Unbalanced is one these books. Perhaps the title and theme of this book have subliminally affected me, but I do not wish to portrait Asha and Clay as the main characters of this book simply based on their budding romance. I wish to shed some light on the other important characters, to show more of author Courtney Shepard’s efforts at presenting us with an engaging story, and to not leave readers in the dark about the entanglement of character storylines in this book that I hope they will soon dive into. Instead of forcing this review into my normal format, I hope my condensed reading notes on these main characters will prove much more informative.
Asha has the power of Fire. Father Sean is her handler. She’s a mercenary-type soldier with flaming red hair and black-colored eyes. Carries a rifle slung over her shoulder, a silenced pistol strapped to her thigh, and a gold dragon-hilted sword sheathed at her back. Raised in the San Francisco, lives now in Southern Columbia, the area of her last mission with Father Sean and his team. It was there she realized that she’d been given misinformation and had killed infants and children at a hospital compound. She escapes. She spends her time now trying to help the local communities, killing those who threaten them, trying to make amends for her own wrong-doing.
Clay is a soldier for The Order, following the orders of Master Heath and Master Miles. Green-eyed, tall, brown-haired, handsome. Has been dreaming of Asha since his childhood. His shock at discovering that she is a real person causes him to veer from his mission of targeting and killing her on sight. Instead, he poses as a doctor from Doctors without Borders delivering supplies and infiltrates the camp. Is he Asha’s star-crossed love interest and/or her assassin? Even he doesn’t seem to know.
Ivy has the power of Earth. Father Bennett is her handler. She’s an auburn-haired, green-eyed veterinarian from Canada. Comes home to discover Father Bennett assassinated in her living room and the assassin still waiting for her. Later, she finds a note left in her vest from Father Bennett telling her to find her sisters, Asha, Mere, and Avia, and to also find Master Miles. These are the only people she should trust. Not only coping with the shock of Father Bennett’s unfortunate death, she is only now discovering that the she has sisters and has no idea who Master Miles is.
Mere has the power of Water. Father Austin is her handler. She’s a surfing instructor in Australia. Wavy black hair, light blue eyes. Almost kills a child while basking in the thrill of her created wave. Flees the beach to head home, happy to find Father Austin there making tea, hoping he will relieve her of her self-recriminating thoughts. The arrival of assassins halts the conversation. Father Austin stalls them with a pistol grabbed from a kitchen drawer, telling Mere to flee and find her sisters. Sisters she didn’t know, until that moment, existed.
Avia has the power of Air. Father James is her handler. She’s a renowned flutist residing in Hong Kong. White hair, light grey eyes. Finds her limo driver assassinated in the back alley of her latest performance. Flees to Switzerland and her secluded cabin in the Alps. It is at this location that all four sisters are united while engaged in a battle with Clay and the Order. Will they all survive? Will Clay choose obedient duty or be ruled by his own desire?
In a majority of the story’s timeline, the main characters are all in their mid-twenties. Asha, as a mercenary, was always prepared for battle, and her sisters had all been prepared by their priests for the day they all knew would come, when they would have to flee to preserve their lives. They understood that they would be hunted for their powers, but it seems they were never told by whom or for what purpose. Even the fact that they had sisters was kept from them. Which side are the priests really on? Ivy’s priest, Father Bennett, names Master Miles as one of the few people she can trust, but Master Miles is not only one of the highest-ranking members of the Order, he is also the first-born son of the Grand Master of the Order.
Unbalanced is opening book to a series by the same title. It is fast-paced and packed full of interesting turns of events that keep the reader engaged. Courtney Shepard is a master of description in matters of both love and battle. Both types of actions scenes are vividly written while, at the same time, not being overly done. While I was at first a little disappointed with the name, hair color, and eye color matching to the corresponding element, thinking these choices lacked imagination, I changed my mind after realizing that I would probably be more upset if there were no outwardly visible connections. For those who usually avoid books written in a series due to the high rate of abrupt unsatisfactory endings, this book stands well and ends well on its own. There are actually more characters than I introduced here, leaving Shepard with many options for continued writing. I would recommend this book and I would definitely be interested in reading the next book in this series.
Unbalanced is available on Amazon, Kobo, at Barnes & Noble, and at the Champagne Bookstore.