Tuesday, July 21, 2015

The Charismatics by Ashley R. Carlson Review

"I can't shake this feeling that I've been lied to, nor that I'm partly to blame. I've spent my life following orders, never questioning Legalia's decisions for me, for the world. I had food, shelter, better living conditions than most-why rock the boat? 

Because you can choose between doing what is comfortable, or doing what is right, answers the small voice within me.

I was afraid of that.

An arranged marriage. A corrupt government called Legalia. A forbidden spiritual realm. 

Duchess Ambrose Killaher was just seventeen years old when exiled to Shinery-a city of snow and darkness-to marry a man who despised her, finding her only solace in an invisible companion named Roan. 

Now as the poor starve in the streets below and rebellious acts become a frequent occurrence, Shinery holds its yearly celebration to commemorate Legalia’s rule. But when Ambrose stumbles into a hidden courtroom and witnesses a violent murder, she is thrust into a secret world of the supernatural-one that could endanger everyone she's grown to care for. With the help of a handsome stranger, Ambrose learns of the past Legalia has covered up, and that she alone possesses the power to stop their unspeakable plans for the future."

NetGalley. Thanks for the copy.

The Charismatics' narrator is a duchess who is locked away in her castle and unable to hold any power. Well, she does have some power, but the power she possesses isn't very helpful to her. She won't be able to defend herself by speaking a few sharp orders. She is only a puppet for the very nation she lives in, and every move she makes is reinforced by a colorful and beautiful cage. She has a husband, who cares for another and wishes to have nothing to do with her. She has a court, which would rather see her bleed than watch her rule. 

Legalia, the deadly nation Ambrose obeys, is complex and evil. It is greedy for power, and in the name of power, the nation has created two classes. The scientists are the leaders while the lab rats (which is the class the scientists use for their gruesome and horrifying experiments) are stuck at the bottom. It is a very, very understandable hierarchy, and Ambrose is stuck somewhere in the middle class. Legalia's strict rule creates a situation just ripe for a big, daring, and deadly revolution led by the main cast. 

The supernatural/paranormal plot of the novel is quite surprising. It doesn't come completely out of the blue, but it does throw me off the road for a while. Carlson (the author) does world building well, and she paints a world where dystopia and supernatural are combined. Roan, a sort of spirit animal and guardian of Ambrose, is a constant companion of the Duchess. 

Ambrose Killaher (which is an interesting name, I must say) is the duchess. She lives a very comfortable life, even though her husband is distant and her nation wishes to see her silent and obedient. But when she finally gets out of her cage and escapes for just one day to see the real world, she realizes how badly the world needs her. Gaining the backing of the lower and poorer class, Ambrose is forced to become a puppet and mouthpiece of Legalia. Despising Legalia, she plays a dangerous political game to protect the weak. Her character really shows. 

The ending of The Charismatics is shocking. There is a lot of potential in the sequel, and I would love to see what the author brings next. 

Overall, The Charismatics is an entertaining tale. There is a dashing love interest, who possesses a dark and shocking past. Roan, the spirit animal, is awesome with his lines and words of wisdom. Ambrose is brave, and she is a strong heroine who stands up for what is right. The book itself will captivate readers from beginning to end. 

Rating: Three out of Five

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