SPAAW Review: The Awakening (The Lightning Conjuror #1) by Rachel Rener

Continuing on with Witty and Sarcastic Bookclub’s Self Published Author Awareness Week I have a review of Magical Realism tale The Awakening (The Lightning Conjuror #1) by self-published author Rachel Rener. It is the first book in a four part series.

The Awakening (The Lightning Conjuror #1) by Rachel Rener

Three years ago, Aspen (as she calls herself), woke up in an abandoned cabin without a single memory. Forced to start her life from scratch and exist entirely off the grid, she’s led a lonely life, but a quiet one… Until now. Suddenly, strange things are happening all around her: phantom tornadoes, exploding fireplaces, massive sink holes – not to mention the strange man that’s been following her everywhere she goes.

When Aspen audits a college class for a much-needed dose of normalcy, she’s shocked by the assistant professor’s cold disdain for her, and her alone. Their heated confrontation turns a corner when Aspen panics, accidentally shattering every bulb in the classroom. That’s when Aiden realizes what she is… but he’s not the only one who’s been paying attention.

In her mission to discover who – and what – she is, Aspen must learn to control her powers, navigate her budding feelings for this new and mysterious ally, and, finally, unearth the shocking truth about her past.

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My Review

The Awakening (The Lightning Conjuror #1) is a Magical Realism story set in Denver, Colorado. The main character, Aspen is something of an enigma. She is a loner who has forgotten her past and who awoke three years ago in a mountain cabin with no electricity, living off grid, with a distinct feeling that she should keep away from people as much as possible. One thought dominates her psyche:

“Don’t attract attention. Don’t let them find you.”

Her only friends are Gina who owns the restaurant she works in and her elderly neighbour, Evelyn, who keeps an eye on her to make sure she is eating well and staying safe. Evelyn also gave her late husband’s motorcycle to Aspen, which is her only mode of transport. 

All of a sudden strange things start to happen around Aspen. The elements begin behaving strangely when she is feeling emotional – a tornado appears to save her from a crash into a truck, her fire flares up unexpectedly in its grate and her bath water becomes warm despite there being no heat source. She attends a university lecture and the electric lights start acting weirdly. The assistant lecturer glares at her in a most unfriendly manner but she has no idea what is going on. 
The plot thickens as she gets to know the assistant lecturer, Aiden who tells her he can control fire and believes she also has powers enabling her to control the elements. Aiden, who I liked immensely, has escaped from a cult of Elementalists known as the Asterists and warns her to avoid them, at all costs. However her need to find out more about herself and her family gets the better of her. Will she find the answers she seeks to her mystery? Or will the Cult win out in the end? The story moves along at a nice pace and the chapters are short enough that I found myself reading more at a time than I intended to. There are a couple of unexpected twists which I enjoyed. 

The characters in this book are realistic and believable. I liked Aspen and admired her tenacity, living in a meager cabin for three years. I did wonder how likely this would have been in reality – since she didn’t remember why she was hiding out I wondered why she would adhere to these self-imposed restrictions and austere conditions for so long, but I was willing to suspend my disbelief in order to enjoy the story. I did thoroughly enjoy the story – the author’s background in psychology and neuroscience shone through, helping to make the science understandable and the concept of people having elemental powers was intriguing, if not entirely original (Marvel’s X-Men came to mind as I was reading). Aiden the attractive and gentlemanly assistant professor, who becomes Aspen’s love interest (a little too quickly for my liking) was my favourite secondary character. Two-faced Savannah was the kind of villain you love to hate. 

The ending was a little unsatisfactory for me – nothing was really concluded and the next books in the series will need to be read to find out what happens.

About the Author

Rachel Rener is the author of THE LIGHTNING CONJURER Series, a critically-acclaimed contemporary fantasy with elements of magical realism and romance. Her most recent release, THE GIRL WHO TALKS TO ASHES, was an Amazon #1 new release and a BBNYA (Book Bloggers’ Novel of the Year) semi-finalist.

She graduated from the University of Colorado after focusing on Psychology and Neuroscience. Since then, she has lived on three continents and has traveled to more than 40 countries.

When she’s not engrossed in writing, Rachel enjoys painting, reading, rock shows (musical and mineralogical), Vulcanology (both the lava kind as well as the pointy-eared kind), and playing Diablo 3. She lives in Colorado along with her husband, a stellar mineral collection, and a feisty umbrella cockatoo (“Jungle Chicken”) that hangs out on her shoulder as she writes.

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