Friday, March 1, 2013

8 Heart Review: Shaman, Friend, Enemy by M. Terry Green

Shaman, Friend, Enemy (Olivia Lawson Techno-Shaman #2)
M. Terry Green

Page Count: 327

Release Date: 22 October 2011
Publisher: CreateSpace (self-published)
Source: Complimentary copy provided by author in exchange for an honest and unbiased review (thank you!)
Rating: ♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥

Patients with fractured souls, clients threatened by deadly ancestor spirits, and now the paparazzi–it’s all in a day’s work for techno-shaman Olivia Lawson. Livvy has rocketed to the top of the shaman world, bringing old friends with her but also attracting new enemies.

Even as her career soars, her personal life spirals downward. Broken bonds and lost love finally force her to confront the terrible secret of her beginning in shamanism. Despite being attacked by dark shamans and navigating a spiritual plane that seems out of control, Livvy’s single-minded quest steers her into dangerous territory and puts her on a collision course with those dearest to her.

No longer interested in walking a fine line, Livvy discovers that–when the one thing you need is the one thing you can’t have–you’ll risk everything.

Review


[NOTERead what I thought about the introduction to Livvy and shamanism in my review for the first book in the series, Shaman, Healer, Heretic, here!

Los Angeles is changing. Techno-shaman Livvy Lawson—who's one of the most highly coveted shamans in the area, thanks to a recent triumph in the multiverse, as well as its exposure—can feel it prickling in her skin. It's not just her career dynamic; there seems to be some other shamanic influx disrupting the natural flow of her work, too. Only when she notices a devastating pattern among her clients, and when shamans begin appearing in her middleworld, does she figure out there's someone out there that's putting not only the LA shamans, but also her directly, in grave danger. But by then, it may be too late to take any defensive measures.

This second installment of the Olivia Lawson Techno-Shaman series is an artful, well-processed continuation of the fascinating urban fantasy world that left readers begging for more in the preceding Shaman, Healer, Heretic. The idea of techno-shamanism itself is magical and thrilling—a combination of steampunk and contemporary fantasy—and the plot is also fast-paced and easy to follow. This sequel isn't as dangerous or as inventive as the first book, as the backdrop of shamanism is already set, but it's definitely more psychologically disturbing, with a fresher and equally absorbing premise.

My only constructive reservation for the previous book was that there wasn't enough of Livvy's past incorporated into the storyline. There would be brief mentions, but never full elaborations, which frustrated me, but now I know they were just a technique to keep me holding on. In Shaman, Friend, Enemy, all the questions—all the obscure nondisclosures—are slowly, painfully answered. In the beginning, I was definitely at the edge of my seat wanting to know more about Livvy's initiation into shamanism—into how she became the prophesied lightning shaman; by the end, I was completely satisfied.

I love how there's more of Min and SK, as well as a moving forbidden romance. The results of Livvy's desires are literally electric, and inevitably will end up governing her and swallowing her whole.

I recommend this one for readers who are returning to the series. While the plots of both books are completely unrelated, there aren't as many details about the shamanism, nor about Livvy's routine, which may make Shaman, Friend, Enemy seem rather flimsy and underdeveloped. It might be a decent standalone novel, but would be best enjoyed by readers who started at the beginning, just because of the recurring practices, characters, relationships, and conflicts present.

Livvy's deepest secret—the reason she is so devoted to shamanism in the first place—is finally revealed after the mystery enshrouding her background. As malicious powers try to get in her way, Livvy will go to any length—even submersing into the dark arts, and even losing herself a little bit—in order to carry out the mission to which she owes her life. Her painful past eventually justifies her determination for redemption, but not before claiming a small part of her, before it does.

Faced with these inner demons and the recent local obstructions, Livvy must risk her career and her life just to settle the one thing from her past to which she owes everything, which propels her into a distressing decision: to pursue the one she loves, or to stop being a shaman—to lose her identity—completely.

[NOTESee what I thought of the third installment of the series, Shaman, Sister, Sorceress, by clicking here.

Pros


Livvy's backstory revealed! // Moves quickly and doesn't drag on // New villains shape the story well // Livvy's personal strengths and weaknesses explored // Well-written and well-structured // Leaves me wanting to read the next book!

Cons


Green has a natural voice for storytelling, but stylistically it's not particularly lyrical or haunting; it gets the job done, but isn't impressive // Not much action

Love

Livvy had stopped at the edge of the living room, as though she were afraid to enter. When in doubt, she bit her lower lip. Sometimes when she did that, she was worried about something serious, a client usually. Sometimes, she was just trying to pick the type of tea she'd order. SK had never mentioned it to her, afraid that she might stop.

Verdict


In this stirring, fulfilling second novel, M. Terry Green calls attention to the domineering advantage in keeping compassion—keeping humanity alive on top of the duties in the battle between good and evil—as well as a startling truth regarding where Livvy's passions and loyalties lie. Once again, Livvy is challenged and her heart's resolve brutally tested, but once again, readers hold onto hope that she will, in the end, somehow prevail; that's just who Olivia Lawson is. Tender and heart-wrenching, yet edgy in revelation, Shaman, Friend, Enemy is a detailed and purposeful journey into our original lovable heroine's psyche. The discovery of an incredible bond and a terrible tragedy that have shaped her, and how she, in the end, triumphs over those single-minded fears, demonstrate masterfully what it means to be human... and what we humans must do to not only live, but also to simply survive Americanflag

8 hearts: An engaging read; highly recommended (x)