Pros: Strong female characters and excellent fight scenes
Cons: Enemy lacks dimension; formulaic
Rating: 4 out of 5
In book one of The Druid, Ana and (her now-boyfriend) Lachlan had to hunt down a stolen spell and rescue a kidnapped friend. In book two, Dracha’s magic was stolen from the castle of the Undercover Protectorate, and Ana and Lachlan had to find and retrieve it. Now, in Linsey Hall’s Celtic Magic (Dragon’s Gift: The Druid Book 3), Ana needs to get a grip on her powers. Like her sister Bree’s experience, Ana is finding that her powers are struggling inside of her, and now she’s been marked with two golden tattoos that seem to be blocking her magic. As it happens, a couple of druids from the Celtic Otherworld come to find Ana because they need her help. A blight is poisoning the Otherworld and strangers are attempting to reach the sacred grove in order to gain power for themselves. The druids need Ana and Lachlan’s help to stop the bad guys, and along the way Ana will get to learn more about her powers.
First: a random something that I love. So far in The Druid Ana and another Protectorate student named Lavender have been rivals. Ana is supposed to be something “special” but has been displaying very little power so far, and Lavender has been bitchy about the whole situation. Now, not too long ago I was peeved at a different book (unrelated to the Linsey Hall books) because it had the two main female characters totally rivals to the point where they’re basically trying to kill each other over a man. This is a particularly bad sexist trope: it pushes the idea that women can’t trust each other and can only trust the men who love them. I was a little leery about the thread with Lavender for this reason, but Hall is so good about having strong female characters that I was willing to wait and see. And in this installment, there’s a huge climactic battle, and Ana and Lavender buckle down together in the fight. It isn’t made a big deal out of, either. The two just back each other up, because that’s what you do when you’re on the same side. It was great to see, and it’s a wonderful example of just how strong Hall’s female characters are.
The ultimate enemy does lack dimension, which isn’t entirely unusual for some of Hall’s books. So far they’re just some ghostly figures who… well, they’re ghostly figures. I really don’t know anything else about them. Hopefully they’ll get fleshed out in later books. As usual there are plenty of faceless demons to kill.
We do learn more about why Lachlan tried to keep Ana at a distance, and again, it’s nice to know it was more than just “we’re colleagues,” if for no other reason than the characters in The Valkyrie went through the same thing. It’s good to have some variety.
As always the fight scenes are fantastic! There are plenty of wild challenges, tests, and battles for Ana and Lachlan to face, and as usual there’s a particularly big one at the climax that brings all of the good guys (including the Triumvirate) back together again. The basic setup is formulaic, but the battle scenes themselves never get old. Hall is particularly talented at making extensive, creative, action-packed fights.