Genre: Urban Fantasy
Two brothers destined to save mankind from the malevolent forces who desire its destruction; a Maori warrior teaching them to use their Gaelic talents; and a father who’s trying to make sense of the tragedy that brought them from a ranch in Montana to a new life in New Zealand.
These are the threads running through Kate Fuentes’ Elements: The Beginning. And it truly is the beginning. Fuentes introduces us to fraternal twins Gage and Talon Thorn while they’re still in-utero. Even in this state, they’re causing trouble for their mother and speaking to her telepathically. It’s an interesting beginning to be sure.
Fuentes weaves a tale mixed with Maori and Gaelic mythology. Maui, the Maori warrior who takes in the boys and their father after their mother’s death, is a unique and entertaining character and quickly became one of my favorites. The father, Gable, is struggling to cope with his wife’s death and with the extraordinary gifts his sons possess. He adds a grounding element to the story (think Eureka’s Sheriff Carter), and through him, we learn just how bad things are.
These parts worked for me. Gable, especially, since he’s just so…normal compared to all these fantastical occurrences and didn’t feel like a throwaway character because his understanding is central to our understanding. Maui is just a fun, lighthearted character and he keeps the mood up throughout most of the book, keeping it from feeling too weighty. And the boys are mostly adolescent boys who bicker and fuss and quarrel with each other. The family dynamic is well done.
However, parts of the book drug for me a little too much. I felt like the mom’s death and the boys’ growing up in New Zealand could have been worked in differently because it takes so long to get to the danger. Once that aspect is introduced, the story picks up and is much more interesting, but for me, the beginning was just too much. The story could easily have started when the boys were closer to ten years old.
Elements is a good read. It’s an engaging read, especially for younger readers who would definitely appreciate the banter between Gage and Talon (and also the whole magic aspect of things [like Talon can shapeshift, which is pretty sweet]). The worldbuilding is well done and the story is interesting. I would recommend for younger readers and to people who are wary of fantasy.