Review of Abyss (Return of the Elves #5) by Bethany Adams

A mage out of her element
After five hundred years as a magic teacher, Selia thought she’d seen everything. But nothing prepared her for the chaos of her assignment at Braelyn. Assassins, rogue princes, and a grown, half-human student—all had caught her off guard. Now, things have settled down, and her life has begun to take on a sense of normalcy. Until her seemingly dead husband reappears astride a dragon with a dire warning about Earth.
An adventurer far from home
For seven years, Aris was held captive on the isle of dragons, hidden so well that only his captor knew of his presence. But when a dragon claims him as her rider and flies him away on an urgent mission, Aris isn’t certain he wants to return home. Tortured and scarred, not even thoughts of his lost family renew his desire for life. Unfortunately, death isn’t on the table—not with danger threatening multiple worlds.
A widening abyss
Life might have settled on Moranaia after Prince Kien’s death, but the rogue prince hadn’t gone to his death as quietly as his people believed. As poison seeps into a crack in Earth’s energy field, a greater catastrophe looms. Now a dragon, a broken adventurer, and an uncertain mage are the only ones who stand in the way of disaster. 

First things first Moranaia remains a beautifully crafted world and this series continues to set the bar high, if you are reading this review without having read the first books in the series I highly recommend you go back and start with Soulbound. Bethany Adams’s writing is nothing short of exceptional and I can’t help but get totally absorbed within her world. The first thing that struck me about Abyss was it’s darker tone. That’s not to say that the other books have been all plain sailing, but they felt like they had an underlying lightness to them despite the battles and evil princes, but having considered it I think this tone was totally correct given the context of the experiences we’re reading about.  Abyss tackles some difficult topics and doesn’t shy away from showing the gritty side of recovery following years of abuse. The way the book not only deals with Aris’s recovery but also how that extends to others around him is a real triumph, I have to say my heart broke a little at times when even a small gesture has far reaching ripples. That did however mean that the win moments were all the more sweeter and at times unexpected, with hand fan moments a little more steamy than usual!

What also sets Abyss apart from the earlier books in the series is dragons! Kezari is such a great character and brings about most of the lighter moments by way of her bluntness and social ineptitude. She’s totally no nonsense but fiercely protective and the way she pines for her hoard is also kind of sweet. I found that her connection with the earth was well explored and it made for an interesting diversion away from the Elves that I didn’t know I needed.  The other great moment stems from Selia and Meli’s first journey to Earth, their adventures in a convenience store alongside with their first sampling of salt and vinegar crisps was brilliantly executed and the mischief between Iren and Eri was brilliant as always.

Abyss is very much the culmination of all the books so far, it’s a difficult job to keep such a large cast of characters relevant to the story but I felt that everyone got a turn without things feeling muddled or the story being extended unnecessarily. It lent additional depth to the chapters which flowed between many different locations with ease. Without spoilers, the final set piece utterly blew me away, writing long action sequences is hard to get right and its a delicate balance to keep momentum going. Bethany Adams not only managed to get this balance spot on but also intertwined a whole host of characters and another sequence in between seamlessly. I was holding my breath for perhaps longer than I should have I have to admit. The only tiny gripe I had was there was a lot of swearing, now I’m not a prude with that, but given that Moranaia’s own version of the f bomb is now thoroughly entrenched in the readers mind it seemed somewhat out of place in my view. That is a tiny thing though and it in now way detracts from the very deserving 5* that I give Abyss.

 

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