Book Review: Seeking Unseen, by Kat Heckenbach

A lot of water has gone under the bridge since this book was released. Released in 2012, that makes it seven years to be exact. I haven’t done justice to some of my writing friends by putting off reading their books, but I’ve recently made a commitment not only to read more, but to purpose to read more of those books I should have made time for long ago.

Finding AngelKat’s books are at the top of my list, as someone who has poured a lot into me professionally. I read and reviewed the first book in her Toch Island series, Finding Angel, way back in 2013. This morning, (having reread Angel over the summer) I finally finished the second book. I’ll have to put a book or two between this one and the third, but I’m determined to finish this series within the next few months.

I’ve also been notoriously critical in most of my reviews. Since 2013, I’ve sort of mellowed in this department. I reread my review of Angel and cringed a little. Maybe I was too critical. Upon my second reading, I’ll gladly take most of that back.

seeking unseen coverSeeking Unseen is the second book in the Toch Island Chronicles. Whereas the first book was all about Angel rediscovering who she is in the magical community, this book is about her friend Melinda doing the same. I’ll leave it at that, so as to not give away any fantastic plot differences.

So now to review Seeking Unseen. And to be consistent, I’ll review it in the same style as I did the first book.

The bad news:

I’ll be honest, there’s not a lot not to like here, but I do have a couple of criticisms to share. The first is in language choice. Melinda is snarky. Snarky as in…she stepped out of the goth scene of the 80s. I get it Kat. YOU stepped out of the goth scene of the 80s. Unfortunately, I don’t think some of Melinda’s lingo is going to age well. I almost laughed out loud when she asked Angel, “What’s your damage?” For choosing snarky slang that a modern generation would have to ask their parents about, 25 points will be taken from Heckenbach House.

At the end of Finding Angel, Angel comes into possession of a certain thing that will grant her one wish. That’s no spoiler or anything…it’s right there in the description of Seeking Unseen. The book begins with Angel pondering that wish. But I guess she…forgets? Did I miss something? Did the wish happen? I feel like it would have been a big deal and I would remember it. Hopefully, she remembers in book 3. She’d better, Mrs. Heckenbach. For planting a plot device that never paid off, 25 points will be taken from Heckenbach House.

Kat, who was an editor for all four of my Winter books, told me early on that Melinda was a lot like Winter. What she failed to tell me, was that Angel would start acting a lot like Kaci, Ayden would act like Peter, and Zack would become, basically, the child version of Davis. The only people missing are Summer and my Ayden, who is a girl. For unintentionally copying half my cast and not warning me about it, I’m going to deduct a whopping 50 points from Heckenbach house, thank you very much.

The good news:

Feeling like I was, at times, reading my own cast of characters in her book aside, the cast of Seeking Unseen is far beyond more engaging than Finding Angel. That’s not a fault of Angel, per se, but just from a story construction standpoint, Angel had a much smaller cast to interact. This story has a great cast, each with a unique and believable personality, that interact with each other in believable ways with believable dialogue. For giving me good characters to love and root for, I award Heckenbach house 40 points.

Oh that plot. I’m usually pretty good about figuring things out. I’ve spent a lot of time dissecting complicated plots and analyzing basic tropes against the ingrained story of humanity as we want to tell and live it. By understanding the basic desires of humans and how they envision the journey of obtaining their life goals, it becomes pretty apparent how writers subconsciously work that into their stories. Back to Seeking Unseen….I knew — I KNEW — from the very beginning who was behind it all. But I just couldn’t quite grasp the how. And I knew — I KNEW — something wasn’t right with a certain character, and that it was directly related to the above statement. Again, I just couldn’t quite grasp the how. And I KNEW what the final reveal would be and how it was all going to end, I just couldn’t GRASP THE HOW! And I KNEW Kat had done all of that on purpose. By cleverly withholding a mere handful of facts that would have allowed me to put it together properly (and SHE KNEW exactly which ones to hide), and by cleverly planting clues that merely served to frustrate any clever reader trying to put it all together. **SIGH** I guess I must admit that I didn’t figure it out. I knew what the ending would be, but the HOW…it just eluded me. By design, no doubt. And for that, I award Heckenbach house 60 points.

Additionally, the world took on a whole new personality than it had in Angel. I criticized Angel for feeling derivative of Harry Potter. No more. It comes alive in Seeking Unseen. The magic system, the talents, the world building, the carnival (which was easily one of the best parts of the book). It not only stands out as unique, but as inviting and engaging. For standing toe to toe with Jo Ro and easily holding your own, I award Heckenbach house 20 points.

Finally, I liked Melinda. I liked my Winter, after all. The two should totally get together in a short story or something. High school Winter and Melinda would be best friends. For that alone, I award Heckenbach house an additional 20 points.

So, assuming my calculations are correct…

[2(30+20+2(10))-(50+(25÷(½)))]/2=2x

Where the 2 represents the 2nd book of the series and X represents the number of stars I should award. I award, Seeking Unseen…

5 Stars

 five-stars

Once again, well done.

-odk

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