Review: Relic by Renee Collins
by: Renee Collins
Publication Date: Aug. 27, 2013
Publisher: Entangled Teen
Age Group: Young Adult
Source: e-ARC provided by the publisher in exchange for a fair and honest review.
Page Count: 400 pages
Order Links: Amazon | B&N
My Rating: 4/5 stars
Relic has been on my radar for quite some time now! I first discovered it while I was working on a Waiting on Wednesday post and decided to scroll through the GR list for upcoming debuts of 2013. I stumbled upon Relic, read the synopsis and was instantly hooked. A story set in the West of course would have your cowboys, native Indians, and rich settlers. But to add relic magic in there? Freaking awesome!
I really enjoyed Relic. From the very first page I was engaged and immediately drawn into the absolute horror that was occurring so early on in the novel. You cannot help but feel overwhelming sorrow for the main character, Maggie. Tragedy strikes her right away and at 16, she is left to take care of her younger sister, Ella. After fleeing to a nearby monastery, Maggie knows she cannot take advantage of their hospitality forever, as times are tough all around. She ventures out into the closest town and starts looking for work. She comes across Alvar Castilla, a haciendo who is both wealthy and influential. I wasn't sure what to make of Alvar first. My spidey sense was tingling and I didn't feel I could completely trust him. I think it was all of the 'flicker of expressions' that made me doubt his intentions. However, he did swoop in and save the day, providing Maggie with a job at a local saloon cleaning floors and serving drinks.
It is here she meets Adelaide, who is a showgirl, and Landon, a cowboy who works for Castilla. I really liked Adelaide, even though she was a minor character. Her situation as a showgirl is less than desirable, but she makes it work- having fallen for a cowboy named Bobby. However, Collins really shows us how little rights women have at this time and how they are controlled and manipulated by power-hungry men. Adelaide is certainly a victim of this and you can't help but just hurt for her because she longs to be with Bobby and live their lives separate from Castilla's men's power.
Landon Black, a cowboy working for Castilla, meets Maggie and you can tell he's a fun-loving, flirty character, who also has a sensitive side. He has known loss also and initially connects with Maggie that way, but he is persistent in his attentions to her. The scenes with Maggie and Landon made me laugh, because she is so proper and a bit naïve. Yet, she feels a longing for Landon she's never experienced before. I did like that Collins didn't make their relationship the primary element in the book. She did a great job of weaving it into the background to where it was present, but not overwhelming. (I will say Collins did have me flying through the pages at one point because she gave us a plot twist that I just couldn't deal with. The mantra, 'No, no, no, no- it can't be true' kept repeating through my head.)
The heart of the story is the action. Towns are being burned and no one knows who is doing it or why. They believe the Apaches are the ones burning and razing towns, but they have no solid proof. Having been rescued by a young Apache, Maggie does not believe it is them and is determined to find out who is behind it before letting innocent men die. However, after almost losing her sister, Maggie's purpose shifts to taking care of her and making sure she is happy and healthy. Alvar Castilla is there to save the day yet again and offers room and board for both Maggie and her sister at his estate. She accepts as she is willing to make the necessary sacrifices to keep her sister cared for. However, everything comes at a price and Maggie must decide whether or not a comfortable lifestyle is worth that.
The magical aspect of the novel was really interesting for me. I like the idea of relic magic and learning about the different kinds and how it worked. Maggie is drawn to the relic renery and it is there she first meets Alvar Castilla. She is drawn to the energy of the relics and after an incident, Castilla realizes she may be more than meets the eye when it comes to relic magic. After providing her a job at the saloon and after saving her sister, Castilla insists she begin training with him, as he knows she has a gift and he intends to discover it. Even though Castilla has shown nothing but the most utmost care and kindness, you can't help but wonder if his motives are pure. Typically men like Castilla do nothing but for their own gain and power, so I was definitely flying through the pages to find out what really was going on.
Overall, I found this to be a compelling, enjoyable read. I loved how Collins used the Western setting and mentality and weaved in magic and fantasy. I do feel Collins left herself room for a sequel if she so chooses and I certainly wouldn't mind reading another book about this world and seeing how the characters fare after everything they go through in this novel. It certainly is no picnic! Maggie and her sister, Ella, have been through a lot and watching them struggle to accept their losses and move forward in a world where respectable work is scarce, is really fascinating. The two are forced to grow up faster than two girls should, but when survival is on the line, the question isn't what to do- it's what wouldn't you do for the one you have sworn to protect?