Essence of Life

Book Two: The FireNight Prophecies

Young Adult - Fantasy - Epic
406 Pages
Reviewed on 09/07/2020
Buy on Amazon

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    Book Review

Reviewed by Jamie Michele for Readers' Favorite

Essence of Life by Darren Boeck is the second book in the coming-of-age fantasy series The Firenight Prophesies, preceded by book one, Gifts of Fire and Ice. The book begins with Serg, Blur, and Nola in a precarious position as they navigate their abilities in a situation that, by all appearances, allows freedom of movement, but under a watchful eye it really isn't. Their escape from the Fire Empire and the clutches of Nola's brother, Emperor Gander, is tenuous at best as they are doggedly hunted. Their friends, Regel, Telson, and Kern, have been taken captive with little in the way of hope, given that they have no way to communicate or send word out about what's happened to them, making rescue by their former Fire Empire friend almost impossible. As Serg, Blur, and Nola traverse the landscape, they soon discover that they have no choice but to return to the East and into the dangerous belly of the Fire Empire.

Essence of Life is a story that takes some time to get into, at least for those of us who have started with book two. Thankfully, Darren Boeck drizzles backstory over a dense layering of subplots that allow for a catch-up before the book barrels full steam ahead. The story is narrated through many points of view, even including Blur's wolf Whisper, as the three main leads start to realize they are not children anymore. I enjoyed the emergence of two romances that simmer just beneath the surface without detracting from a seemingly clear-cut mission that has a tendency to twist itself in unexpected ways. The writing is mostly clean even if it isn't entirely tight, with moments that feel a little ham-fisted and some narratives that border on cliche. The fact that these didn't hinder the reading experience says a great deal about the world-building and character arcs that take place, my personal favorite being the plucky and wildly entertaining Plisha. I have no doubt this series will find a welcoming legion of fantasy fans who will enjoy it immensely.

Romuald Dzemo

Essence of Life is the second book in The FireNight Prophecies by Darren Boeck and it is a great treat for fans of epic fantasy. Serg, Nola, and Blur have had some respite after escaping from the Fire Empire. But their troubles are not yet behind them. They worry about their friends Telson, Kern, and Regel whose lives are in grave danger. They can’t leave their friends behind. Their destiny is in the Fire Empire, with all the cruelty and the persecution taking place there. The prophecies of the FireNight are unfolding and Serg, Nola, and Blur must navigate a dangerous path back to where their friends are. Can they succeed with the odds stacked against them and how much time is left before their friends are annihilated? Can the Fire Empire survive the forces of evil that are conspiring to destroy it?

This is a well-plotted, intelligently written story. The author transports readers to an imaginary world that is exciting to navigate. An empire that has become a battleground between the forces of Good and Evil and a motley group of heroes who are determined to save the day. The setting is well-written and the world-building is the work of expert hands. Darren Boeck knows what it takes to excite the imaginations of readers. The characters are compelling, multi-dimensional, and the plot is filled with twists and surprises that I never saw coming. The strength of the writing is in the deft handling of character and the author’s gift for conflict. Essence of Life is an installment in a series, but it can be read as a stand-alone novel, one that made me want to read the other books in the series.

Mamta Madhavan

Essence of Life: Book Two: The FireNight Prophecies by Darren Boeck is the second book in this series, a fantastical novel where the fight between good and bad continues. Serg, Nola, and Blur had escaped from the Fire Empire and they survived crossing the vast Western Desert, thanks to Plisha who had found them weak and exhausted. She took them to her village. The trio told Mother Darma, the eldest of the Tontu tribe, that they were no longer welcome in the Fire Empire and that was the reason for them crossing the Great Desert. Serg, Nola, and Blur were wondering if Telson, Kern, and Regel were also captured and if they were still alive. Serg, Nola, and Blur knew that they must find their friends and also find their way back to the Fire Kingdom.

Essence of Life has suspense and intrigue and is a compelling read for all those who love fantastical adventures. There are whimsical characters in the plot, twists, and turns, and many layers that have been woven together seamlessly to keep readers glued to the story. The character development is excellent; every character will impress readers with their personality, and there is a lot of action that leaves readers with a sense of curiosity and urgency to know what is going to happen next. The narration is descriptive, detailed, and vivid and that adds to the enchantment of the story. Using the combination of fire magic and ice magic to show a different kind of life essence is quite interesting. I like the manner in which the author's creative mind and imagination work, which adds to the magic and wonder while one is reading. Darren Boeck keeps the narrative crisp and sharp and the pace and movement of the plot going until the very end. This is definitely a book for readers who enjoy fantasy, adventure, and action.