Reviewed by: Felixthecat
Book 1 of The MacDarra Chronicles opens with a rather distressing scene—a ten year-old boy has just arrived at his new foster parents’ home out in the middle of Nowhere, Georgia. He quickly finds that life with this new family is going to be anything but pleasant from that point on. He will be stripped of dignity, community, civility, and stripped as well of his... Show more
Reviewed by: Felixthecat
Book 1 of The MacDarra Chronicles opens with a rather distressing scene—a ten year-old boy has just arrived at his new foster parents’ home out in the middle of Nowhere, Georgia. He quickly finds that life with this new family is going to be anything but pleasant from that point on. He will be stripped of dignity, community, civility, and stripped as well of his name. “Hear that boy?” The woman glared venomously at him. “Unacceptable. That’s what you are. Ugly as sin and twice as stupid.” But why would a character like the vicious foster mother hate such a boy immediately? There is a reason, and there is also a greater reason why an angel we meet later has let him be led into this nightmare existence.
Jump forward six years to a high school in Connecticut. Two best friends, Celeste Kelly and Katie Grandol are in English class, still wondering about a young guy they had seen the evening before at the mall, when in he walks. The new student. Handsome as Adonis. Shy, unassuming, self-deprecating to a fault, mysterious, and cloudy about things modern in a way that no twenty-first century teen could possibly be confused about. Cell phone texting. Gym class exercises. Sword play—NO, not sword play, but nearly everything else. How odd until we jump back three years or so and pick up with the 14 year-old foster child living in his private hell, locked in a basement, subjected to privations and regular beatings that even prisoners of war would cringe at.
Cian MacDarra miraculously—and that is not an overstatement—survives until he is rescued (miraculously) by an inept Social Services Agency a few years further down the line. One of the most appealing, if not horrible, aspects of Colella’s writing is her ability to walk the reader graphically through young Cian MacDarra’s torturous existence; so effectively that the reader feels the verbal abuse he suffers wholly, and feels as well the whip on his back.
Celeste, Katie, and young MacDarra soon enough become friends, more by accident than amorous plotting by the two girls. A ride missed after school, a rescuing mother, a visit to Celeste’s home, and a magical harp that Celeste will become master at playing—all of these things play a key role in a heaven-inspired mission Cian and Celeste will be called upon to walk into...and win. It is Good vs. Evil. Frodo vs. Sauron. David vs. Goliath. Celeste and Cian vs. a dark, malevolent angel.
Leap backward again. More detail of poor Cian’s painful existence and further loss of identity.
Forward to the present again.
“Time jumping.” That is an appealing part of the narrative structure, as well as key to who Cian actually is, and why and how three beautifully constructed characters nudge him forward until the end of the beginning. They are “portal guardians,” a beautiful harp-playing angel named Celesta---do you get the connection to our young heroine Celeste?--who protects the Hub of time from the evil forces. There is a “Keeper” sent to watch over and ready the young boy Cian for his calling. And the introduction when they meet (again) is an ancient harp purchased at an estate sale.
This is Young Adult fiction written by a very scene oriented and accomplished writer. Judy Colella has a firm hand on the often difficult, and often failed, challenge of plotting a riveting adventure set in modern America, and in the Hub of Time. HIGHLY recommended for young adults and older readers as well.
Available at Amazonbooks.