Saturday, March 08, 2014

Book Review: _The Winter Oak_ by James Hetley

In many myths, the Summer Country is an idyllic other world, a paradise of great beauty and immortal life. Fantasy author James Hetley provides a Summer Country with a twist in his book _The Winter Oak_. This book is the sequel to _The Summer Country_ continuing the story of sisters Maureen and Jo. The author gives readers an entertaining Celtic Fantasy with a dark edge through his realistic characters, action plot and modern themes.

Characters are realistic with real problems to overcome. Maureen returns in this sequel with many personal issues unresolved. Choosing to remain in the Summer Country, she struggles with her personal demons of abuse while trying to learn her new powers and love Brian, her new boyfriend. The increasing stress of fight ing enemies drives her deeper into alcoholism. Jo, Maureen’s sister, returns to Maine with her boyfriend David. She is put under pressure by having to deal with an injured other and hateful father. Lack of money due to loss of their jobs while gone to the Summer Country strains her relationship. Both women must try to overcome a lot of baggage striving to gain happiness. The men in their lives must deal with two volatile women characters with many flaws that readers can understand.

Next, the plot is full of action that keeps the reader hooked until the end. The action starts in the Summer Country with Maureen facing an angry dragon and trying to settle into her new home. Maureen is agitated from being tortured in the first book. As she tries to develop her relationship with Brian Albion. Fiona, her enemy from the previous book, begins new plans to destroy Maureen. Magic exists in this Summer Country, but it is not a paradise. There are enemies everywhere. Our world is represented by a messy, spring Maine wher e Jo must deal with her dysfunctional parents without Maureen’s help. Another element of suspense is added with the interfering Pendragons. The author weaves these plot threads into a fast paced action plot, which brings out the themes of the book.

Finally, the book explores modern day themes that are thought provoking. Mr. Hetley gives readers a story with no easy answers. Abuse is the main theme of the book. The sister come from a family with an abusive father. Maureen suffers a rape at a young age while ]Jo contends with physical abuse. Both women suffer devastating emotional problems from the abuse. Despite the magical elements, all of the characters confront real issues that face people in the real world.

_The Winter Oak_ by James Hetley is an excellent dark Celtic Fantasy. The author’s realistic characters, action plot and modern themes grabs readers to provide an entertaining story of a dangerous Summer country.  Mr. Hetley brings the story to life with vivid descriptions to tell the story of two strong sisters with troubled lives. This book is a good sequel to _The Summer Country_.

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