The Essence (Pledge)
Charlaina is the new Queen of Ludania, but she is still harboring the hated old queen Sabara within herself in this excellent paranormal suspense adventure. Awkward in her new role, Charlaina is contending with protesters, a traitor in the castle and a summit of queens. In THE PLEDGE, Derting took readers through the takeover of evil Queen Sabara, and in THE ESSENCE, readers will learn more about Charlie and her loyal helpers as her kingdom begins to adjust to the new order. The focus on characters is appealing, though Derting deftly weaves in suspense and even romance to this edgy series.
"While Charlie does things her followers do not understand, readers will sympathize with her as Derting has crafted a realistic and complicated character in this fictional world."
As Commander of Charlie’s army, Brooklyn knows some of the people are organizing to fight the Queen. She also knows her father is one of the leaders of the movement. He warns her that violence is coming, but when it hits a school Charlie is visiting, the new staff moves quickly to keep the Royal family safe. Guard Zafir worries because Charlie has done so poorly at both riding and fighting lessons.
Charlie is aware of the growing danger, but she is preoccupied with fighting Sabara within herself. The old queen’s thoughts come through during the day, and now Charlie finds herself strangely drawn to Ambassador Niko, an old lover of Sabara’s. Charlie is also pulled through the old queen’s memories. At times, Charlie loses control, and the change in brightness of her glowing skin lets her know if she or Sabara is winning the battle for Charlie’s body. Angelina is the only one who knows what is happening with Charlie, and the young Princess tries to help heal her to no avail.
Brooklyn, Zafir and others move to escort Charlie to the queen summit while Sabara’s grandson Max stays as ruler in her absence. Charlie and Max have grown closer, and she hates being apart from him, especially as Sabara makes her meet Niko in private and flirt with him.
Threats split the group and some of the army is killed. Brooklyn knows the traitor is among the traveling group, but the summit poses even more dangers as another queen realizes Sabara still resides in Charlaina. Sabara rises to the surface and violently deals with the new threat. The summit ends quickly after that, and Charlie is taken to the rest of her family who have been in hiding while she was away.
Followers of the traitor try to hurt members of her family, and Charlie has to call upon some of Sabara’s powers to help save everyone.
Darkness and danger pervade this well-written, page-turning story as Charlaina tries to deal with her new responsibilities and growing powers. While Charlie does things her followers do not understand, readers will sympathize with her as Derting has crafted a realistic and complicated character in this fictional world. Readers will be eagerly awaiting the next installment of this series.
Reviewed by Amy Alessio on January 2, 2013