Semester Abroad by Elizabeth Kirke

Posted December 3, 2011 by Kate in Liked It, Review / 0 Comments

This was a fun ride from beginning to end, and one of those books that puts together a wide variety of magical creatures in one book. The book starts off with Jen going on a semester aboard a ship, where they visit various different countries and basically immerse the students in local culture. All is going as planned until one night she sees a girl push a guy off the ship, and shocker of all shocker, no one does anything to help the guy. And then when Jen starts to panic, thinking this guy needs a life jacket, they all look at her like she’s crazy. She quickly catches on that something more is going on her, and she spends the next few days trying to figure out what is wrong with this group of people she happened to stumble upon.

As it would turn out everyone in the group is some form of “magic” (or magical creature), and the reason why Jen notices the differences of the magics from the non-magics is because Jen is a magic too. This all makes for a lot of information in a not a lot of time. It was confusing for Jen and in parts a little confusing for me as a reader too. I think that is largely in part to the fact that the group is semi-big and explaining all of the details of each of these different creatures abilities is difficult. Thankfully you start to catch on after a couple of chapters.

I really like the wide variety of people and abilities in this book, it makes it a lot more interesting in my opinion, and in the down time, when Jen is just hanging out with the group, she asks a lot of questions. It keeps the reader still interested in the people and in the book itself without requiring there be all action all the time.

I’m not entirely sure if this book is intended YA or not. I actually looked around a little bit online to see if I could find out, but alas, no luck. I think this would make a great YA book, for the older crowd of YA. There isn’t any sex in it and while there is violence I don’t think it’s gratuitous. That being said I still it makes for a good fun read for the average adult urban fantasy reader.

The characters were fun to get to know, and all had very distinctive personalities. I think if I had to pick a favorite it would be TS, the resident werewolf. He just has such a great friendly personality, and I feel like he brought a lot of comfort to the main character Jen throughout the book. Charlie was also a fun character, as a fire elemental, he has strong emotions, and is fierce when protecting the ones he loves.

While I did like the secondary characters, I think Kirke did a good job with Jen. She was completely naive to magic when this whole journey started, but she never acted dumb. She was willing to learn, acknowledging she didn’t know everything, and always had a question at the ready, which made it easier for me as a reader to learn the world as well. I also appreciated that Kirke didn’t make her some kind of magical savant, she didn’t catch onto everything quickly, and I can tell through the series she is going to have a lot of learning to do. I think it is going to be a fun ride watching Jen learn magic throughout the book.

Overall, I think this is a fun read. Like I said early I think this reads as an upper YA book, but I’m a person who is very picky about the YA I enjoy, and this is definitely one I like. It does have some series subject matter (with some violence), but generally speaking its a relaxing fun read. I could easily see myself curls up on the sofa on a rainy day with this book, the perfect escape.

Author Elizabeth Kirke’s blog

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