Unbound (Spellbringers #3) by Tricia Drammeh (3,3 Stars)

I must admit that I had this review only almost finished for over half a year, and decided recently to complete it – as best as I could remember without rereading the entire series. Mostly, I think because it hurt that the rating was lower than I hoped it would be and so I delayed and procrastinated and stalled.

The Book

Once more, the narration is split between Alisa and Rachel’s perspective.

Alisa Alexander (I really didn’t want to do surnames, but come on!) is divided between her parents and her new husband. Her parents can barely accept that their daughter is engaged and wants to be married as soon as she finishes high school. Her husband, whom she is only married to in the magical community but not legally before the state she lives in, she cannot be apart from due to the magical Bond. Plus, there are (unexpected) things that happen to bonded people.
Rachel has to face the consequences of everything. Her relationship with Jace failed, her Protector Mikael wants a relationship, her brother learns about his magical heritage, her mother needs to learn as much as she needs but as little as possible, her father’s side of the family gets in contact, Ra’Vel is still alive and won’t leave her alone. Her lies come out in the open, her secrets can no longer be denied. Rachel needs to accept her magical heritage and decide what her part in the community will be, and whom she wants on her side while she goes down that path.

Why I Read The Book

Really, I only read it because of Alisa. I was very curious about how human Alisa, now with minimal magic due to the connection to her husband, finds her place. And I wanted to know just how much the Bonding actually changed Bryce. Rachel’s part of the story I could have done without, even though she is the one that allows deeper insight into the magical community. But Rachel’s story has been more or less the same for the past two books, will she, won’t she, have to face grave consequences? Maybe I was a bit curious, if she and Jace have a chance, or if she gives in to Mikael. Or Ra’Vel?

The Idea

I was speechless with shock and stupidity.

I was beyond disappointed in the development in Alisa and Bryce’s relationship, but I cannot say that I was surprised. I just thought Alisa would know better than to get pregnant, but I am even more annoyed that she takes full responsibility for it, even though it is just as much Bryce’s “fault”. I’m still trying to figure out why that was necessary – and I feel like it was just something to fill Alisa’s chapters, and not let Rachel’s story take over completely. While I was always critical about Rachel, this book had me flabbergasted. The first half was the usual back and forth with Rachel, good/bad, Jace/Mikael/Ra’Vel. But the second half was surprisingly brilliant, with everything coming together and Rachel is forced to face reality. The way there, however, had me shocked beyond belief. And it is because of that that we learn about yet another side of the magical community, and in such detail.

Characters

I had always depicted Alisa as an intelligent, down-to-earth character. That, however, she wound up pregnant within a month of being Bonded/married leaves me to doubt that. There is not much of a development in her, apart from that which is forced on her, but she had always been mature and responsible, so she seems to be taking being married and her pregnancy in a stride. I do, however, think that she allows Bryce to walk all over her too often – though I am not sure if that is just part of the protective male in this magical culture.

Rachel is forced into a big learning curve. When her plan to run away from everything fails fatally, she faces the consequences, a bit too much on the side of giving up. She is coached through being the strong woman everybody knows she is by Mordecai, but I am not quite sure if he manages completely. While it seems to all end well with her, I feel rather that towards the end Rachel is closer to the side of darkness than ever.

Jace seems to become more of a side-character in this part of the series. He is mainly portrayed as an increasingly skilled protector, even though he didn’t have professional training yet. Since he is mostly seen through Rachel, he appears cold and aloof, but all the while obsessed with Rachel. I would love a peek into his mind after everything that happened, because I don’t understand him.

Bryce finds yet another reason to be possessive and controlling, though he has lost his jealousy. Being a husband and father-to-be is, on the one side, clearly keeping him on the side of good, but he is hovering around Alisa more than ever. His change from book one becomes most obvious in his relationship with his brother. No longer does he find it necessary to compete with and challenge Jace, but he is a supportive big brother who looks out for his younger sibling. They can finally be in the same room without it escalating.

My love for Mikael never came. Even though he becomes an essential character and member of the group, his overly friendly and understanding behaviour never convinced me. He always felt more like a disturbance, more so than ever when he successfully romanced Rachel. Though I can’t deny that made the book frustratingly interesting. He was a bit too cocky, but he didn’t deserve what he got.

Mordecai was first introduced in the first book with Mikael, and he made a smaller appearance in the second book. In this one, he becomes a regular character in the second half of the book. He is the most ambiguous character. Is he good, is he bad? What is his motivation? He is the character, of whom you make up your mind right away, and then he offers the biggest surprise, but you are still left without an answer. In that, he is a really great character!

Realization and Writing Style

I actually don’t know how I feel about this book. As before, the writing style was good, easy to follow, but not naive or childish. The narration was still too unbalanced for my liking, pace being confusing with things happening too fast, and then a detailed report, such as Rachel and Mikael’s relationship versus Rachel’s trial. Unfortunately, I also didn’t quite understand the necessity of Alisa as a main character and narrator, since she mostly observed others, and her own scenes were rather trivial.

Interestingly, I made a note that I thought it very good that everyday situations were brought into the story, away from all the magical drama, completely all-American. I suppose Alisa’s role was the grounding of the story as relatable, and possibly a bit preachy. That doesn’t change the fact that I preferred Alisa in an active rather an observing role.

I’m afraid I don’t understand Rachel and Mikael’s relationship. It all happened so fast and I felt like Mikael convinced Rachel more than she truly felt it.

Talk about convincing someone in the relationship. Sometimes I really struggled believing that Bryce didn’t use Persuasion to get Alisa to do what he wants. Sometimes, she is a bit to set on doing things that I didn’t expect from her, to well-explained in her decisions, and sometimes the way Bryce speaks to her is more than sweet-talking her into it. I think it was an uneasy feeling for most of the book, until the moment Alisa actually wonders if he used his powers to make her go to sleep. And after that moment, I just didn’t trust him anymore, whenever he wanted Alisa to do something for him. I really, really hope I’m wrong, but my trust has suffered.

It was a good thing that I could, after being not quite happy with all that was going on with Bryce and Alisa and them being the main reason a swallowed/read the book, turn and concentrate on Rachel’s story for the second half of the book. It was unexpected, crazy, and surprisingly good, captivating. Even if my own emotional state suffered gravely. I was sucked into the story and it was great, even of I had hoped it would develop differently quite frequently. (My opinion on that wasn’t very Spellbringer and much Annie.) More than anything, I probably liked the characters that were introduced and the way these characters developed through that trial. I need to say, however, that I am very much not talking about Rachel here. I just never could get to loving her. And I felt that the end, with her final words in the book, she confirmed my kind of suspicion about her character.

goodreads-note: Rachel so frequently changes her mind about things that I hardly should have been surprised at the end… but I was, and I found it even harder to follow her.
Even though I think the end is a bit too happy and convenient, I’m quite happy with the story!
I wasn’t aware there would be a fourth book when I started reading. I expected Alisa’s direction. But I cannot believe that Rachel will get herself into trouble again

After Reading

With all that: Addicted. Again. Again. Wait…! This wasn’t it? There is another book? And it’s not out yet? How am I supposed to survive that?

Rating

Idea: 3 Stars
Characters: 4 Stars
Realization: 3 Stars
Writing Style: 4 Stars
General Rating: 3 Stars
Personal Rating: 3 Stars

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