Sometimes, rather than an epic fantasy or sci-fi where the stakes can involve an entire world right from the start, it’s nice to see a story that begins with a single character and their self-discovery before growing from there. Madilynn Dale’s Releasing Her Power Within is a story that does just that.
1. Thoughts on the plot
This book follows Liz, who has inherited her grandmother’s cabin after her mother died. She goes up with a friend to clean it out and discovers that she not only loves the community, but perhaps belongs there. Only, the man she meets, Cam, is hiding something and it just might be more mysterious than she can imagine.
This book is the first in the Fae Shifter series, which gives a huge hint as to what the book is about. In general, I have found books of this sort to be enjoyable, and a great break from some of the more dramatic and involved epic fantasies (which I also love). The plot of this book was very swiftly paced, with events moving faster than I had anticipated. All the relevant points are there, and it does take a goodly amount of time for Liz to understand what’s going on, and what her role is in all of it, but once she does, things take off at rocket speed with no time in between. While this works for some stories, I don’t think it worked quite as well here, especially when it came to character connections, such as that between Liz and Cam, and Liz and Dan.
2. Thoughts on the characters
Except for the swiftness of relationship development mentioned above, I think the characters were very well developed. I like Liz; she came from a normal background of a physical therapist, rather than some of the ones I’ve seen in similar books. She had a healthy life before, and moving was her choice rather than a necessity. She was definitely a strong character and it was interesting to see her grow throughout the story. Again, I would have liked more details after she started understanding what was going on, especially in the areas of training and coming to terms with her new life, but that is more plot-oriented than character based.
Cam was also an interesting character, though he was more two-dimensional than Liz, being cast primarily in the role of protector. I think seeing more sides of him, outside of his interactions with Liz, would have been just the ticket to make him on par with her depth. As Liz was the main character, though, I think it worked out well enough.
3. Favourite part
The scene descriptions were very well done. I was able to picture the scenes and locales quite clearly, especially in regards to the food. It did not feel at all overwhelming in the area of plot, and I think these descriptions of scene added to the character portraits, giving me a good idea of what Liz found interesting to look at and notice.
As mentioned in the plot section, my critique for this novel is that it seems to rocket through some of the more important pieces. Liz’s relationship with Cam moves very quickly, and while this makes sense in context of the plot, it almost feels like it moves too quickly, without any real time for them to get to know one another. There are mentions of spots where they “talked for hours”, but we as readers never get to see the details. And later, when Liz is learning the truth about herself and what it means, the entire section is glossed over. One minute, she’s learned this great secret and the next she has trained for several weeks and can do amazing things. It’s too fast, and the reader gets none of those interesting details.
Overall, I like the premise of this book. I think the characters work relatively well, and it was nice to see them in ordinary lives before the extraordinary started to appear. I would have really liked this book if it did not gloss over those important details. I would say this was a good book.