Broken Realms is a fast-paced Urban Fantasy by D.W. Moneypenny, a former journalist who currently lives in Portland, Oregon. It’s the first installment in the five-part Chronicles of Mara Lantern series.
The book opens with Mara Lantern (our reluctant protagonist) arguing with a good friend about her younger brother’s insistence on using an old cell phone to make believe communication with their dead father. Mara is a gadget whiz, a grease monkey who delights in older technology with all its moving parts despite the current era’s determination to march toward the future.
She boards a plane heading back home to Portland and things get…weird. Flashing blue lights, sudden altitude change, rapid shifts in the other passengers, and then she’s faced with a clone of herself carrying a glowing blue object. This other self is pursued by a teenage boy trying to talk her down from using said object for purposes we don’t find out until far later. Mara reaches out and touches her other self, an explosion happens, and suddenly she awakens on the side of the river with passengers from the flight all floating around her.
No casualties. The press hails it as a miracle, but all is not as it seems. Here we meet our next set of protagonists, two investigators trying to solve the mystery of the plane crash. I can’t get too deep into their plotline in my synopsis or I’ll end up entering spoiler territory, but suffice to say their scenes generate conflict and intrigue when we do get them, as they suspect Mara of being the cause of the explosion.
The author’s writing style is clean and functional, descriptive when he needs to be and passable when he doesn’t. I live in the Pacific Northwest region and have visited Portland many times. He captures the feel of the city quite well and I enjoyed that aspect of the story. The side characters Ping and Sam (again, spoilers if I get too deep into their identities) ended up being far more interesting and believable than the protagonist.
Her character arc centers around accepting that the Universe is bigger than she is, and that she has near god-like powers to shape it. During the first half of the book her doubt is believable, but as the story goes along, I found myself more annoyed and disbelieving than tense when she continued to refuse to accept the truth before her eyes until the VERY end. The side characters and fantastic world building carried me through, but I’d be lying if I said the tension in the story had anything to do with the protagonist’s fate toward the end.
3.5/5, I borrowed the next two and plan on reviewing them. If the series doesn’t get any better, I’ll probably drop it.