Verdict: EVIL SPEAKS is a promising beginning to a lively young adult series full of action and charm.
Benny and his mother Neeve have been on the run for years now, running from Benny’s grandfather who seems to be some sort of mafia crimelord. But when an explosion tears apart their home, Benny fears his mother is dead. Family friend Mike Salvatore sends him, at his mother’s direction, to a mysterious boarding school where he meets six other remarkable teenagers – Kami, Chaz, Raj, Layla, Amir and Zuma, each found as infants under mysterious circumstances – and their kind-but-driven instructor, Dr. Minerva Pallas. But this is no ordinary school, and Dr. Pallas’s training is meant to prepare her students for a dangerous threat brewing from the underworld – led by Benny’s grandfather.
EVIL SPEAKS is a vigorous and action-packed fantasy, full of energetic fight scenes and snappy banter. The supernatural world it portrays is imaginative and vivid, full of interesting creatures and strange landscapes. Though the trope of ancient Gods in modern times is perhaps rather overdone in recent years, this manages to be a reasonably creative take on the theme. There are a number of clever little lines and details included – for example, “The horse [Big O(din)’s horse “Slippy”/Sleipnir] ran so fast, it seemed like it had eight legs,” or the addition of a “Mind the Gap” sign to those marking the entrance to the Underworld – which add a bit of lightness and humor to the story.
The multicultural perspective is thoughtfully approached, with apparent respect for each culture’s myths as adapted to a modern world, although there are a few questionable decisions (particularly the choice to make the very female deity Kali male, for which no reason is given). However, having seven different characters on the team, and a plot with a great deal of action to get through, means that they tend to get trapped in their own stereotyped boxes – Amir is vain, Kami is fierce, Zuma likes to eat, etc. – without enough time to develop each character’s full personality, though hopefully that can be remedied in later books.
EVIL SPEAKS is a promising beginning to a lively young adult series full of action and charm.
~Catherine Langrehr for IndieReader