Relic is a fantastic, fun read from a talented new author, Renee Collins. The plot is fast-paced from the first page, and there wasn’t a moment that dragged. For the most part the characters are vivid and realistically written, and the dialogue was western-flavored without being overwhelming. In fact, it was a serious contender for my best-of-2013 shelf.
One of the strongest aspects of Relic was the setting. The Western spin is an angle that’s not too common in fantasy, and it provided a rich backdrop for the action of the novel. I loved the atmosphere of the book – Collins did a great job.
I was also glad to see a premise/magic system that hasn’t been done before. The idea of Relics (bones of magical creatures) providing people with magical abilities is – as far as I know- unique. Considering how much they featured in the plot, however, I would have liked a little more explanation as to how exactly they worked – it seems to vary based on what’s needed for the plot. Individual relics seem to work on contact, or by ingestion, but there are also guns which are somehow powered by relics, and that’s never really explained at all.
Considering he was the major love interest, I would have liked to have seen more of Landon. I also would have liked him to be a bit more involved in the investigation of the burnings/mystery of the unknown relic/something! There’s a scene were he chastises Maggie for getting caught up with Alvar and life at the hacienda, but it’s not like he’s doing much of anything either…plus, his relationship with Maggie felt a bit rushed.
There were a few hints that Maggie might see Yahn as a potential love interest as well, which I thought was silly and unneeded, but that’s probably just my bias (I strongly dislike multiple love interests).
I liked that I couldn’t figure Alvar out – one moment he was kind, the next entitled and demanding. However there were some moments where I felt his characterization was a bit too inconsistent…and the explanation felt like a bit of a cop-out.
I prefer my villains not to be ‘evil’…to have some sort of motivation, however twisted, for what they are doing. That doesn’t appear to be the case for the ultimate antagonist of this book.
Despite these nitpicks, I thoroughly enjoyed reading Relic, and if there is a sequel – the ending seems well set up for one – I will certainly read it!
Full disclosure: I received an eARC from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.