Book Review: Harley Merlin and the Stolen Magicals

Title: Harley Merlin and the Stolen Magicals
Author: Bella Forrest
Genre: Fiction

What’s it About: After a display of her powers, Harley takes the pledge to join the San Diego Coven. With barely enough time to celebrate, the Rag Team meet up to do research into Katherine’s and Harley’s family trees as well as Children of Chaos, during which time Alton brings in two security magicals from the Los Angeles Coven, Stella and Channing, whose purpose is to assist the Rag Team in finding the missing children as well as Katherine.

While Harley and Wade go traipsing around California looking for Isadora and Jacob thanks to a tracer spell, Santana deals with Raffe and his djinn, which apparently is a Purge Beast from Raffe’s mother that had fused itself with Raffe at birth. The djinn scares her, but she refuses to show it and ultimately she names him Kadar. When Harley and Wade find Isadora and Jacob, they get attacked by a shapeshifter who pretends to be Preceptor Bellmore. To escape, Jacob opens a portal to the San Diego Coven, and Isadora reveals that Jacob’s parents were a couple thanks to Katherine, who forced his father to open up a portal from which he never returned. As a result, Jacob’s mother snapped out of whatever trance she was and Isadora helped her stay hidden.

The team finally gets a lead on Marjorie Phillips, and with Stella and Channing, they go find her in a shifty and slightly violent neighborhood of LA. They bring the girl to safety, and Santana gets the job of talking to her to bring her up to speed, at which point Marjorie reveals that she is a Clairvoyant. The following evening, Santana catches Harley by the mirrors and the two of them go to the New York Coven, where they get Salinger, who is the Preceptor of International Cultures in New York, drunk and he gives them the tour of the Coven. They confirm that both of Harley’s family trees–the Shiptons and the Merlins–are wiped out, and that Hiram Merlin was under the Sál Vinna curse. Salinger also tells them more about Hiram, Hester, and Katherine, and Santana helps Harley break into the Special Collections of the Coven where she touches and starts reading from her parents’ unfinished Grimoire. Santana has to wrestle it from her hands before Harley summons something dangerous.

After their return, Harley goes to see Dr. Krieger, who is under a mind curse that forces his victims to tell him the truth to his questions, and it only happens when he falls asleep. In the meantime, Santana speaks with Kadar, who tells her that they need to keep an eye out for the Librarian, a Clairvoyant, that will be able to answer all of Santana’s questions. Suddenly, Santana’s Orishas go off due to an attack on Marjorie by Stella. As they’re sorting out the matter, Marjorie tells Tatyana, Dylan, and Santana that she saw Micah Cranston in an abandoned factory known as Hoffman Millwork. They take her to Alton’s office, finding Stella along the way, and Santana drags her through the mud for the attack. Except it wasn’t Stella who attacked Marjorie, but a shapeshifter working for Katherine, and as a result Alton makes the decision that all of the Shapeshifters in the Coven must wear cameras. This in turn results in protest from Garrett, as it would make it evident who is a shapeshifter to the rest of the coven and there is a stigma surrounding shapeshifting, and Astrid backs up Alton. Once everyone is done in Alton’s office, Harley heads to her room, only to overhear Stella’s confession of her love for Channing, who in turn rejects her.

Then Harley visits Finch in Purgatory and tells him the truth about their father, Hiram, including how the Sál Vinna curse works–it needs everyone in the family to be killed, which surprises Finch as Katherine had told him a different story. Harley uses this leverage to trick Finch into revealing more of Katherine’s plans. That night at the coven is the Family Gathering, which is the one day per year where families get together across all the covens in the world, and Santana has her first Purge, which is pretty powerful, and as a result of attempting to contain it, Harley shatters two gemstones in her Espirit.

With Santana in the infirmary, the call comes the next day about Micah, and so Harley, Raffe, Tatyana, Garrett, Dylan, Wade, Stella and Channing go to the warehouse, where they take out the two guards watching him, while Harley secures Micah, who is crying about his cat. Harley finds his cat, which was squashed to death, and brings him over to Micah, when suddenly the cat comes back to life. According to Micah, it’s the 6th time he has done that to his cat, and Wade believes that Micah is either a Necromancer or the cat is Micah’s Familiar, which shares a soul bond with the boy.

Suddenly, Katherine arrives with the assistance of Isadora, who she has captured. As a result, a battle ensues with everyone trying to do their best. Harley wants to save Isadora, who tells her that she’s been cursed, while everyone starts running away. Then Harley faces Katherine, and in the following conversation, her anger makes her earth powers lash out, putting Harley and Katherine into a sinkhole. They continue to fight each other, albeit more carefully as to not disturb the sinkhole, but end in an impasse. Ultimately, Katherine leaves with Isadora, causing the ruins of the abandoned factory to come down on Raffe, Wade and Harley.

Upon their return to the Coven, Raffe tells Santana the story, and they share a steamy kiss which is interrupted by Santana’s mother wanting to give her a gift–Santana’s own Grimoire. Harley and Wade spend some time in the Bestiary discussing Purge Beasts, and Katherine. Taking Stella’s advice, Harley is about to tell Wade how she feels, when Tobe interrupts them as Alton requests Harley’s presence in his office. At her arrival, Alton introduces her to Tarver, and tells her to show him around the Coven. Tarver acts nervous around Harley during their tour, and he finally reveals that he is Jacob in disguise, before giving Harley a letter from Isadora.

My Verdict: Harley is definitely an impulsive individual, going after what she wants without really thinking through how her actions will affect others or the danger that she will put them into–case in point Santana at the Coven, and Jacob and Isadora. Ultimately, it’s her actions that get Isadora captured by Katherine, which means that she’s as much to blame for this as Katherine.

That said, Katherine is this non-existent being so far in the book. She’s about as real as a puffy cloud in the distance, a harbinger of a storm that’s way off in the distance. Everyone’s so worried about her because she stole the young magical kids right underneath their noses, but she hasn’t actually done any harm to any one yet. And once she does arrive, I’m not really impressed by Katherine at all–there’s nothing about her that makes her noticeable, except that she maybe looks like Merida, who by the way was way cooler than Katherine ever will be.

The book is entertaining for entertainment’s sake, but it’s not really as in-depth as the Harry Potter series were in their mythology and their characters. For me, most of the characters are very two-dimensional, black and white and very obvious, while the Harry Potter characters were vivid, three dimensional characters with complexities within their personalities, and quirks that made them jump off the page and almost come to reality. So to me, saying that this is the ‘next’ Harry Potter series is a little too far-fetched at this point.

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