DUSGADH: ESSENCE OF LIFE by Margaret A. Daly

Rating = 3 / 5 STARS.

Goodreads summary:

Ember Malloch has no idea her life is about to get turned upside down. Besides the fact that she sees the dead on occasion, she lives an ordinary mundane life.

Her sister warned her not to provoke the spirits, but Ember has a mind of her own and she defies Becky at every turn. Now, her life as she knows it will be changed forever, as an unbridled strength is unleashed upon her. She will have an awakening like no other as she learns her past, and discovers who she is…

First of all I would like to thank the author for providing me with a copy of this book to review!

Man I wish this novel was longer! “Dusgadh” has lots of potential because there’s SUCH a deep and inventive world there. The author has an outstanding imagination. It is just such a freaking cool mix of many ideas and styles: magic, romance, violence, fantasy, and more!

STORY: The author packed a lot of cool information into a surprisingly short novel. I enjoyed the history of Ember’s family’s clan, I thought learning about the time she spent in purgatory was interesting and I want to know more about Ember’s experiences there and the “being” that got her out.

It felt like all of a sudden we were talking about spirits, purgatory, etc. without establishing Ember’s beliefs or getting the reader grounded in the universe or characters at all. We don’t know anything about the main character – Ember – yet but we’re supposed to just accept and go along with this ghost world? Also Ember was put into situations very jarringly and without any preamble. Before any one idea could fully be grasped by the reader, we were already onto another place, event, situation, and set of information.

However, I think the reason we are pushed to new events, times, and places so quickly is to purposefully disorient the readers. Because Ember is feeling very confused and disoriented, and is overwhelmed by her history (it is a long & complicated personal history), we are thrown around to in order to sympathize with and relate to her more.

CHARACTERS: There were some areas where I felt like the character development was lacking, and what development attempts were there felt contrived. I really wanted not only more individual character development for Ember, but also relationship development. For Zeb & Ember, Matt & Izzy, and Matt & Izzy & Ember & Becky, specifically.

Becky was my favorite character. Her relationship with Ember was interesting because it was tumultuous – full of love and irritation and an incredibly long history. Becky was a maybe not a conventionally great sister, but she still was good to Ember. She was skilled at being stern with Ember, realizing when Ember needed support, and made a good teacher for her.

Regarding Ember’s character: The beginning of the story takes place a few years before the rest of the story, so when that time jump forward happens I think Ember is supposed to be like 20? But she doesn’t seem to have matured much. In fact her character in general seems immature and whiney. Plus the fact that she’s apparently lived many lives before, but hasn’t gained any insight or maturity is a little disappointing and unbelievable to me.

The author did an awesome job of creating a crazy and creepy villain. Del was a great character addition – and you never knew when he was going to show up! That made him all the more evil and made me worry and become more emotionally invested. I am excited to see what’s in store for Ember’s future and what foes she may have to face.

WRITING: I was very impressed with the author’s ability to write so many different types of scenes – be it violent, historical, or romantic in nature. I was also impressed with the cool blend of Scottish Gaelic terms and history with the wicca/fantastical story.

I will say that every time we dove into an explanation of Ember’s past, it was done very weirdly. Like learning about the beginnings of Cassie & Ember’s friendship: it came at a weird time, so it felt rushed and out of place.

Overall I really enjoyed this story and found it very page-turning! I read it very quickly and was entertained by it. I would definitely recommend it.

And also overall wish there was more story! LONGERRRRR. Guess I’ll have to wait for book 2 😉

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