The Charm by Alana Siegel
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
The Charm is Alana Siegel’s debut novel and kicks off what could be an excellent YA, Fantasy series - Olivia Hart and the Gifted Program. Her first-person narrative introduces us to a complementary host of characters and an interesting set of myth-borne fantasy components that she can greatly expand in her subsequent books.
Though it’s a theme often written, Siegel provides some insight on one of the basic challenges kids face in their teens – discovering and developing an identity as they become young adults. There is the romance and conflict most will remember from their school days and the fantasy aspects simply magnify those themes and the characters themselves.
The magical elements Siegel created are interesting; elemental in nature, there are significant distinctions in how their power manifests by gender and with each gifted individual. This was an effective way to help the reader visualize this challenge of identity and further develop her characters outside dialogue. Her plot’s pace contributes much in developing the main character and supporting cast and really picks up once foreshadowing establishes a common adversary. From there Siegel weaves in suspense that challenges her characters, revealing more of their motives and personalities.
This was an entertaining read, even for a 40 year old with two boys. There were elements in Siegel’s story that reminded me of The Lightning Thief, and though this story wasn’t as dynamic it was interesting to see this quest for identity from a teenage female perspective. Siegel does have the opportunity to build on this first book and perhaps catch her own lightning in a bottle as the series continues. Four stars, an easy recommendation to the wider YA – fantasy audience, and an optimistic feeling Siegel will continue to build what should be a great series.
Tom Clementson (Kindle Book Review)