Maelstrom (Book Review)

  • Author: Stefanie Lozinski
  • Available Now!
  • Synopsis: Wes, Celesyria, Alder and Kessara continue standing against the kingdoms’ false religion, while navigating their own internal conflicts over the necessity of sacrificing for the greater good.
  • Disclosure: I received a complimentary copy of the book from the author. Opinions expressed are my own.

Note:

Maelstrom is book three of the Storm and Spire series and should not be read as a standalone. For this reason, my review of this title may inadvertently contain spoilers for the first two books in the series. To read my review of book one, Magnify, please click here.

Scripture Connection

It was by faith that Abraham obeyed when God called him to leave home and go to another land that God would give him as his inheritance. He went without knowing where he was going.

Heb. 11:8

Although I’m not drawing a direct parallel between any specific character and Abraham, I chose this verse because the main characters of Maelstrom, like Abraham, are walking in faith. Like Abraham, they are trusting God, even as they defy the idolatry of their culture, even without knowing the outcome of their actions. Abraham, we see in James, is “counted as righteous,” because of his faith (James 2:23).

With the discussion (see below) on characters’ destiny, I feel that this James verse is also a very interesting lens to interpret the actions of Celesyria and Aelrie, who fear that they may not be justified before the High One.

Spiritual Themes

Book three of the Storm and Spire series was rich with spiritual content, as the characters were constantly praying and thinking about what it means to follow the High One.

  • The theme of sacrifice was prevalent, throughout, as several of the characters needed to weigh the importance of their personal desires against the need to act in the interest of the greater good.
  • Along this line, there were some insightful points about the meaning of strength and courage. These themes were also explored in book two, frequently in the context of what it means to be a man.
  • Additionally, the book continued with the exploration of souls and destinies, as certain species are understood to be inherently evil, or soulless and therefore unredeemable.

What I Liked

Book three set off to a quick start, for me, and I enjoyed becoming immersed, again, in the world of Kaveryth. I feel that this book may have had the best start in the series, thus far, since the other two books have already laid a strong foundation of the premise and plotline. As a result, this one could start in media res, following the prologue.

Based on the events of book two, I was eager to see how the romance between two of the characters would continue to develop, and I feel that the author is doing an excellent job of crafting a strong and compelling romance.

Comparing the three books in the series thus far, I feel that each book is stronger than its predecessor, in terms of writing. While reading Maelstrom, I frequently observed sentence that were well-stated, whether in terms of apt description or concise conveying of a feeling or idea. I feel that I had fewer of these moments, in reading the first two books, and I am excited to see Lozinski’s skill progressing, as an author.

Characters/Friendships

There was a point when I was reading about Kessara and suddenly thought, “Oh! I forgot that she was a princess.” Kessara, who has been waited on her entire life, demonstrates such strength, intelligence and independence that I forgot she’s not used to these rough adventures. In that sense, I really think she embodies what it means to be a princess: She’s beautiful and graceful, which are two things I regularly associate with being a princess. But, she’s also kind, resourceful and sacrificial, and these are the skills and qualities that she will need to lead her kingdom. If I were to start a blog category about commendable princesses, who really demonstrate what it means to be royal in Christ, Kessara would be at the top of the list.

Alder and Celesyria

Lately, I have been reflecting on how much I enjoy reading about friendships, and something I enjoyed in Maelstrom was the exploration of new friendships. While the first book focused on the friendship between Wes and Celesyria, and book two had a strong emphasis on Alder and Kessara’s friendship, we get to see the friendship between Alder and Celesyria, in book three. This was not the main friendship focus, but I do feel that it was something new, and something very gratifying. When reading or watching a circle of friends, I enjoy seeing the crossover between various friends in the group, where friends who are not necessarily “best friends” cultivate their friendship.

Wes and Kessara

While reading Maelstrom, I was reflecting on another book I had recently finished, and I was thinking about how I enjoy reading about friendships between girls. In contrast, I thought, I can’t really “trust” male-female friendships because they inevitably turn into romantic relationships. Then, I realized (with gratification), that the friendship between Wes and Kessara really has been just that. In fact, book three demonstrates, even more so, that their relationship is more like the bond between siblings. I appreciate that Lozinski shows the beauty of this relationship, without implying that romantic relationships are more important.

Content

This is, I think, the first book with a kissing scene, and it becomes a little intense with one of the characters “fumbling with the first button” of a male character’s tunic. However, this moment ends very quickly, without going any further. And, the scene goes on to explore the theme of commitment, and what a kiss implies about a relationship.

There is one use of the word “savage,” which has negative historical connotations, but this is not being used in that way.

Recommendation Status

With mild reader discretion, I would certainly recommend this title for readers of Young Adult fantasy. However, because this is the third book in the series, it should definitely be read following books one and two. I’m looking forward to seeing what will happen, next, and am very much enjoying seeing the characters’ deepening relationships with the High One!

Published by Stephaniesninthsuitcase

Hi, there! My name is Stephanie and I’m a Fresno, CA native. After studying at Biola University, I received my MLIS (Masters in Library Science) from San Jose State University. I live with my mom, poet Kimberly Vargas Agnese, and serve as her unofficial agent. We reside at MeadowArc, a food forest in its infancy. I am called to, and passionate about, purity. In fact, the name Agnes means “pure.” Before I was born, my mom felt led to include the name Agnes in her name, and in the names of her children. My full, hyphenated name includes 26 letters (but not the whole alphabet).

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