19 April 2017
Book Review: Phantom Eyes
Author: Scott Tracey
Year of publishing: 2013
Published by: Flux
Source: the Malmö city library.
You can also read my reviews for the two first books in the series - Witch Eyes and Demon Eyes.
Every child in Belle Dam is taught about the feud from an early age. There are ‘our’ people and ‘their’ people. Friends and enemies. Associates and strangers. It’s the kind of town where eyes are always watching, and you don’t need a reason to sell out your neighbors.
But the feud is a lie. As a new wave of fury sweeps through the town, creating a third front to an already overtaxed war, Braden has been broken worse than ever. His innocence? Shattered. His heart? Crushed. His magic? Gone. His new life? Ruined. And this is only the beginning.
Beneath the city lay deep wellsprings of power. The one who controls them is the one who will win the feud. In a city filled with puppet masters, Braden must elude their strings and end the feud once and for all. But first, he must outsmart his father, evade Catherine’s dark magic, regain what was stolen from him, trick a phantom who refuses to die, and foil a demon’s master plan.
Even then, he may not survive. Because power is a problem, and victory comes with a cost…
Okay, it's the last one in the series. Or is it?
I'm not really sure what happened with Phantom Eyes, but here is where this series lost me. Or maybe I just got lost within this book's many spells, rules and in-universe logic. Where the first book managed to set up a strong world and tell the beginning of a very captivating story, it's the second book that really lived up to this series' potential; it explored the characters and the many complicated rules and traditions of this world. The story sizzled. It burned bright.
Perhaps it burned a little too bright, because when time came to finish this most epic of tales, there wasn't much fire left to keep the story going. Sure, part of that can be explained by how short my attention span really is, and that after a couple of books, I just got tired of reading about the same characters, doing the same old thing.
For the most part, though, I think the culprits are the characters themselves. And the plot. And the story. The whole shebang. I get that it's difficult to live up to the expectations set by the previous book, especially if that book was awesome, and the bar was set pretty high. Not only does Phantom Eyes fail to live up to the sizzle of Demon Eyes, but it also fails to generate its own sizzle, and keep me invested in the story.
I mean, there is so much at stake, and at the same time there's no sense of urgency, no tension. At some point in the book, the story gets so entangled in this world's rules and history that it has trouble moving forward, and actually going somewhere.
The story starts out promising, and then slowly but surely fizzles out. That includes the romance between Braden and Trey. When they first met these two in Witch Eyes, sparks were flying. It was the forbidden romance between two teenage boys from two feuding families. "Oh, Trey Lansing, Trey Lansing! Wherefore art thou Trey Lansing?". In Demon Eyes, their relationship became more infuriating as Braden was chasing Trey who was being cold and distant (for reasons I now cannot recall), but the tension was still there. In this book, it's Braden who's being cold and distant and Trey is doing all the chasing, although now the tension is gone, and it feels like the two of them are just going through the motions.
Phantom Eyes is by no means a bad book, but it is a disappointing one, both as a sequel and as its own work of fiction. It's the final book in the series, but not the last one as there is a prequel, titled Homecoming. Maybe I'll get around to it someday. But for now, I feel like I'm done with this series.
Plot: 3 stars
Story: 3 stars
Characters: 3 stars
Language: 4 stars
Total: 3 stars