________________ CM . . . . Volume XXI Number 28 . . . . March 27, 2015


Transcendent. (A Starling Novel).

Lesley Livingston.
Toronto, ON: HarperTrophyCanada, 2014.
343 pp., trade pbk., $17.99.
ISBN 978-1-44340-770-0.

Grades 7-10 / Ages 12-15.

Review by Ann Ketcheson.

** /4



Mason stooped to pick up the long knife lying in the puddled blood and water at her feet - the one that Fennrys had dropped when Cal had stabbed him through the chest - and she stalked over to Daria. The priestess swept the elegantly curved blade she held up to ward off the furious young Valkyrie, but Mason just ducked past the blur of the sickle and smashed her armor-clad elbow against Daria's wrist. Then she grabbed her by the front of her priestess robes and brought her own knife to press against Cal's mother's throat.

The silver blade in Daria's hand clattered to the stone tiles and she backed up as far as she could, stumbling over the hem of her robes and grabbing at the low stone buttress surrounding the terrace - the only barrier left to keep her from plummeting off the building now that the glass panels had been blown to smithereens.

The wind pushed at Mason's back.

"Mason!" Cal cried out in alarm.

She ignored him.

"Make this stop," she said, her voice shuddering through the air like thunder.

For a moment, Daria just looked at her as if she was speaking in tongues. His gaze raked up and down over Mason's Valkyrie armour, and she shook her head in dazed disbelief. Or denial. Her sharp shoulders, draped in the white tunic of her priestess order, began to quake as though she was on the verge of either sobbing or laughing hysterically.

Mason shook her by the arm, hard. "The curse," she said. "Make it stop!"

Cal took a wary step toward them. "Mase —"

Mason shot his a look from beneath the brim of her helmet that stopped him in his tracks. Then she turned back to Daria. "Now."

"I can't..."she said in a ragged croak.

A sickly, silver light twisted in the black depths of Daria's widely dilated eyes, and Mason realized that the priestess was still caught in the throes of the enchantment herself.

"Once begin, the Miasma will continue until the engine that drives the curse is no more," Daria continued. "You want me to end it? That means breaking the link between your brother and my haruspex - a link that can only be broken by death."

In this third book of the trilogy, Livingston once again takes her readers to New York City and the chaos which reigns there. Gunnar Starling is still intent on ending the world and bringing about the apocalypse or, in Norse terms, Rognarok. It seems that only his daughter Mason has the strength and the wits to fight him and win, if not prevent, this epic battle of the gods. Mason has transformed into a Valkyrie and thus is a chooser of the slain and the person who will ultimately bring about the end of the world. However, she is determined to fight this and feels that together she and Fennrys do not have to be overwhelmed or ruled by an ancient prophecy.

      The novel is one of a paranormal fantasy world and so emphasizes action and plot. Livingston chooses to mash various mythologies together, and so readers meet Greek and Egyptian deities along with Norse gods. Werewolves, zombie and fairies also have their roles to play. The action inexorably moves along, quite predictably, to a final massive battle between the forces of good and evil, and there are few surprises along the way.

      Characters from the first two books, Starling and Descendant, reappear in this final novel, and readers really need to read the entire trilogy to understand the context. Mason remains strong and fearless, virtually invincible. Her male counterpart, Fennrys, is there to support her, confer with her and, when necessary, save her. Their romance blossoms in this final volume, and while this will appeal to the young adult female readers to whom the book is directed, the love story is also quite predictable and is described in language which tends to the banal words of any romance novel. Most other characters are clearly good or evil, and, therefore, readers will relate to them only on the most superficial terms. Fantasy characters can be quite human sometimes, but those in the "Starling" trilogy remain artificial and, therefore, less believable.

      That said, the young female readers who are most likely to be attracted to this type of novel will be able to let the wild adventure and breathtaking romance sweep them along to what will seem a satisfying conclusion.


Ann Ketcheson, a retired high school teacher-librarian and teacher of English and French, lives in Ottawa, ON.

To comment on this title or this review, send mail to cm@umanitoba.ca.

Copyright © the Manitoba Library Association. Reproduction for personal use is permitted only if this copyright notice is maintained. Any other reproduction is prohibited without permission.
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The Manitoba Library Association
ISSN 1201-9364
Hosted by the University of Manitoba.

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