Monday, September 24, 2012

Review: The Crimson Shard

The Crimson ShardThe Crimson Shard by Teresa Flavin
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

The Crimson Shard (Blackhope Enigma)
Teresa Flavin
Published September 11, 2012
Available now in ebook and hardcover

Teresa Flavin follows-up The Blackhope Enigma with an unintentional journey into 18th century London that may never end for Blaise and Sunni.

Summer is winding down for Blaise and Sunni and so is their vacation in London. Blaise insists on taking a tour of artist Jeremiah Winthrop’s home even though Sunni thinks it’s cheesy. The costumed guides seem charming to Blaise as do the details in the house like the lovely lady bug painted on the floor in the foyer, dinner plates painted on the table, and an eerily realistic door painted on the wall. What starts as a tour of the house and the painter’s workshop turns into a trap when the tour guides lead Blaise and Sunni through the painted door and into a time when Jeremiah Winthrop is alive and “teaching” boys in his workshop.

Blaise and Sunni are forced to join Jeremiah’s army of amateur artists upon threat of death or being turned out into the London streets---as good as death at the time for children on their own. The two friends soon realize that they need to find a way out of the time warp before history is altered forever and they are trapped in the 18th century. Together, they need to unravel the mystery of the crimson shard and figure out how to get back to their time.

Overall, Flavin succeeded in creating a magical world and diligently planted clues throughout the story to help the reader join forces with Blaise and Sunni in their effort to escape the 18th century. The minor characters are fabulous--I can’t go into too much detail about them because I don’t want to spoil the story, but Flavin does a wonderful job of capturing the flavor of the era without laying it on too thick.

Sometimes, I felt like the details and plot ended up driving the heart out of the story too much, and that made it hard to stick with Blaise and Sunni during the tough times. I also found the relationship between Blaise and Sunni distracting. It often seemed like Flavin felt the need to insert romantic tension without any real chemistry which made it more of an annoying distraction than anything else.

While enjoyable, I have a feeling The Crimson Shard is not quite as vivid as The Blackhope Enigma. Maybe the secret to true excitement is to stick with the Italians.

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