Note: I received a free copy of this book from Online Book Club in exchange for an honest review. Melhara was selected as an OnlineBookClub.org Book of the Day. You can check out both the novel and other reviews here!
As a bit of a fantasy geek, and someone who loves anything with witches, angels, and demons, I was quite excited to start reading this book. But now having finished it, I must confess I’m feeling a little disappointed. Melhara did not live up to its full potential.
In a world where light and dark magic exists on Earth, Melhara follows the story of Kyra, a witch who always claimed to want nothing more than a normal life. Haunted by visions and ghosts as a child, she grew to suppress her abilities, finding a husband, having a son, and living a quiet life. That is, until the demon who has been stalking her finally pounces. Alastor, a demon hellbent on releasing the souls in hell needs Kyra alive, and wants her as his dark queen. In order to save her friends and family, she succumbs. Can Alastor’s possession be overcome, or is this who Kyra really is? What lengths can her friends go to in order to save her? And what will she do to stop them?
I’ll give Tollefson this much, the story had a lot of promise. It was a twist on what most of the young adult genre does. Instead of the protagonist being the one and only savior, Kyra is the one person who could cause the destruction of all humanity. But the problem was that the wrong parts of the story were rushed through, and as a result, it was difficult for me to connect to the characters.
Tollefson jumps right into the story and expects you to keep up and make your own deductions, not only with witches and demons, but with Kyra herself. We don’t have a lot of time to get to know her before she turns evil, so it doesn’t feel like as much of a betrayal. Not to mention that, particularly in the beginning, Kyra feels kind of weak. Instead of owning up to her powers, she is ashamed of them. And at first when Alastor threatens to kill and torture her family, including her little boy, she just shakes her head and apologizes, but says it’s all for the best. It feels like she’s just giving up, so it’s hard to have any sympathy for her.
Tollefson could have spent more time developing the characters. Many of them lacked personality, they were there to support the protagonist but nothing else. Secondary characters like Alexis and Axel, for example, were very important to the plot, and should have been given more depth. But because we weren’t given the chance to really get to know them, they, like Kyra, were hard to relate to or like.
I also found a lot of the story to be quite obvious. The author fails to make the climax surprising, and in many ways it feels thrown together. The beginning and the ending should have been the most interesting parts, but instead she dragged the middle of the story out when she didn’t need to.
I did, however, like what we saw of Kyra’s dark side. I wish we would have seen more of it. We get inside her head when she’s good, but I want to get more inside her head when she’s not, when she truly believes that evil is the right course. Tollefson’s biggest mistake, I think, was writing this story in one book. Based on the ending, I’m going to guess there will be a sequel, but I wish she would have split Melhara itself into two, and really delve into the intricacies of the plot.
Overall, I rate Melhara 2.5 out of 5 stars. It was a solid effort on Tollefson’s part, and her ideas were both creative and intriguing. But she needs to work on her execution. By refining her storytelling skills, and letting herself dive into the minds of the characters more, Melhara could have easily been at least a 4 star story. It surprisingly wasn’t my cup of tea, but if you’re a fan of YA, this might be for you.
Remember, this is just my opinion! If you want to read up on others, be sure to check them out, along with the book itself, over at OnlineBookClub.org!