By now, you’ve probably seen my mini reviews of the Harley Merlin series and picked up on my love for these novels. If not, you can read about it here.
Let’s start off by getting a bit of background on these novels. They follow 19-year-old foster kid Harley Merlin who, after trying to understand why she can feel the emotions of others, discovers she’s a witch. The first book unfolds in her hunt to understand who she is and where she came from, ending with her learning more about her family than she bargained for.
The rest of the novels thus far follow Harley in her quest to right the wrongs her family committed, all while trying to save her new home. As campy as that might sound, there are more nuances to consider, making this series far from cliché.
First, Harley is 19-years-old. Can I just say how refreshing that is, to have an older protagonist? It’s difficult to find good NA novels, as the genre is relatively new, and most YA follow 15-year-old protagonists (though they are far from being young adults). And Harley doesn’t read as a 30-something in a 19-year-old body, as many characters are want to do. She’s a true 19, with all the quirks that come with it. Plus, she’s a spunky redhead!
Second, Harley is a strong female protagonist. It might not seem like much, but to have a character that doesn’t immediately despise themselves based on their looks (I’m looking at you Bella Swan and Katniss Everdeen) is really great. Plus, she’s a badass. Let’s be real, a strong woman who takes no prisoners, but is still relatable, is difficult to write. Forrest does a great job of creating a great character.
Third, the Big Bad, other outlying villains, and supporting characters are all relatable and understandable. What they do and the reasons they do them aren’t simply because they’re the antagonist or best friend. They’re just as compelling as Harley.
Lastly, the plots and timelines make sense. Of course, there’s the big fight at the end, like any good season of Game of Thrones, but the build up to it is nicely paced. Plus, the course of four books takes place over a couple of months. Which make the romances happening, and the time it takes to get to them, believable. They don’t fall in love at first sight or declare their undying affections for each other after a few days. These things take time, and Forrest does a great job of making them all as realistic as possible.
As a side note: Forrest also delves into other kinds of magic from around the world, such as Santeria, Kolduny, and djinns. There’s elemental-based magic, ESP-based magic, superhuman ability magic, and anything else you can think of. Forrest’s world building and incorporation is on point.
Please do yourself a favor and check out these novels, as long as you’re a fan of YA fantasy novels. You won’t be disappointed.