Sacrifice by Brigid Kemmerer (eProof) - WARNING! I cannot review this book without spoiling the others in the series. Read no further if you're planning on reading this series and don't want it spoilt for you.
One misstep and they lose it all. For the last time.
Michael Merrick is used to pressure.
He’s the only parent his three brothers have had for years. His power to control Earth could kill someone if he miscalculates. Now an Elemental Guide has it out for his family, and he’s all that stands in the way.
His girlfriend, Hannah, gets that. She’s got a kid of her own, and a job as a firefighter that could end her life without a moment’s notice.
But there are people who have had enough of Michael’s defiance, his family’s “bad luck.” Before he knows it, Michael’s enemies have turned into the Merricks’ enemies, and they’re armed for war.
They’re not interested in surrender. But Michael isn’t the white flag type anyway. There will be blood on the ground tonight... From Goodreads
I absolutely love this series, and so was incredibly eager to read Sacrifice,and jumped on NetGalley straight away once I discovered it was available to review with such excitement! So it's with a heavy heart that I have to say, now I've finished Sacrifice, I have mixed feelings.
With the Guides are still after the Merrick brothers, they're almost sitting ducks, waiting for the next attack. Tensions are running high, and Michael Merrick is feeling the pressure to keep his family safe. When all the houses in their neighbourhood are burnt to a crisp, and Michael is suspected as having a part to play in the fires - by none other than Marshal Faulkner, the father of his girlfriend, Hannah - he knows the Guides are more than serious this time, and he could lose everything...
I'm going to start with the positives. Sacrifice has everything that makes this series; it's the perfect blend of paranormal romance, urban fantasy, and contemporary. Although there is a focus in Sacrifice on the romance between Michael and Hannah, like there is a focus in the others, also like the others, the romance isn't the dominating factor. There's still a real fantasy and danger element (ha!), and set off with real contemporary topics, as in each book. It's fantasy that deals with real life issues in an honest, realistic way. It's something I've always admired about these books; sure, these are stories about guys who have abilities to control the elements, but there's always something very human and relatable in these stories, too. Not only do they make the stories feel more credible, but they also touch on really important subjects without shoving them down your throat and feeling too preachy and/or depressing. In Sacrifice, the issues covered are the responsibilities of protecting and raising a family, and the pressure that comes with it, the effect of teenage pregnancy has on you even when you're an adult, and, as always, family dynamics and the problems of miscommunication. Each of these topics is dealt with so well, you could take all the fanatasy elements out and you would still have a story. Brigid Kemmerer writes with such compassion, too, even when the characters are going through a hard or tough time, it's still beautiful.
Sacrifice is still full of the danger and excitement we have come to expect from the Elemental series. It's really amped up in Sacrifice, though, and I think it might be the most violent of the series! There are so many on-the-edge-of-your-seat moments, and ohmygosh, the tension and the excitment are just through the roof! Also, as this is Michael's book and he's 23, Sacrifice is technically a New Adult novel. Hurrah for a paranormal romance/urban fantasy New Adult novel that's not full of sex! I'd say it's cross over still; the character's age and postion in the family are the only thing that feels all that different from the other novels in the series, but it's not inappropriate for a YA audience or anything. It's what I want to see more of in New Adult! Less sex, more life.
I couldn't help getting a thrill when I read the name of a couple who are neighbours of the Merricks! Quite a while back, Kemmerer was asking for suggestions for surnames to give to people in Sacrifice, and I suggested my own surname - Stapley. She chose it! There are Stapleys in Sacrifice! Their names come up once, but it's so awesome! You would not believe my grin!
And now on to the part I'm not going to enjoy writing so much. This is one of the hardest reviews I have ever had to write. I love this series. I have been pushing the Merrick brothers on whoever would listen to me. I tried a few times to contact publishers to get the books published over here in the UK. I seriously love these books. And I'm such a huge fan of Kemmerer! I genuinely feel terrible for having to write this next part of my review, but for the sake of my blog and my integrity, I have to be honest. And I did have some problems with Sacrifice.
For the end of a series, I feel a little disappointed. I'm still left with questions. Although in some ways it's written in a way to say the story has ended, it's not all wrapped up.Not enough for me. I have questions about events in this book - about the Guide - that just weren't answered. Lots of questions that start with "how". This is an eProof, so perhaps they will be covered before the finished copies are released - at least I hope so. Otherwise... I don't understand why these questions aren't answered when there won't be another book. I really don't think I missed anything in my reading, but I do have so many questions. I can't even begin to hint at what they are without spoiling the story.
Also, there was something big that happened in Sacrifice that I would have expected to have more page time. For one thing, I didn't know it could happen, but then it does, and things move on quite quickly. It's a big deal, and involves a major character, but there's no time to fully process it. It didn't hit me until later. There's a prime opportunity for us readers to process what's happened, but it takes place off page, so we don't get that either. It's a real shock to the system and to have the book end abruptly without us really having the chance to accept what's happened - because I was half convinced it would be a twist, it would turn out everyone else got it wrong - felt really unfair. Really unfair. I really can't get past the fact that this thing happened, and feels brushed over.
Finally, I really didn't think the book was going to finish where it did. It seems to end really suddenly. I didn't realise Sacrifice comes with the three Elemental novellas, so I it looked like there was more to come, and it's what I expected. I reached 66% expecting there to still be 44% to come. I wasn't surprised by how much was left when getting close to 66% - though I now know the end was coming - because of all the questions I had. And then it ended. And really, considering it's the last book, I would have wanted more of the other Merrick brothers too. I think they may have been in this book less than the others.
This series doesn't feel finished to me. Although it's ended, and there was a conclusion of sorts, there are still too many questions, too much that wasn't explained, and it just doesn't feel like the end. If there were more books to come, I wouldn't have a problem with Sacrifice, but knowing it's the last one... I really feel it missed out a lot. Still, I'm a huge fan of Kemmerer's, and will continue to read what she writes. I'll just hope for a better ending.
Thank you to Kensington Books via NetGalley for the review copy.
Published: 30th September 2014
Brigid Kemmerer's Website
My other reviews from the series:
Elemental (Elemental Novella 0.5 - Prequel)
Storm (Elemental Book 1)
Fearless (Elemental Novella 1.5 - Prequel)
Spark (Elemental Book 2)
Breathless (Elemental Novella 2.5)
Spirit (Elemental Book 3)
Secret (Elemental Book 4)