I was curious to read Jordan J. Scavone’s Young Adult Urban Fantasy, Night Warrior. This author has also written several books for much younger readers, which I’ve also read, so I was curious to see how his imagination would evolve into a longer, speculative work for older audiences. I was not disappointed.
I was immediately drawn in when I discovered that the main character was female. Gender opposite writing is a technique I’m pleased to see more writers utilizing. Imagination excels when authors step outside of their normal touchstones and investigate character emotions and thoughts in this way. Mr. Scavone’s ability to become his main character as he told us this story was fluid and believable.
The magical elements were also intriguing. Artifacts of both good and evil drove suspension of disbelief, bringing new layers of power to the factions that wielded them. The environments Jordan designed were also quite interesting. Three very different worlds; one physical, one we only know by inference, and the last embedded deep in imagination. These worlds compare and contrast with such vitality that it’s easy to imagine traveling between them. My favorite locale, not surprising to anyone who knows me, was the bookshop. I always get sucked into a story the minute a bookshop or library is mentioned. Extra points to Mr. Scavone for feeding my greatest love inside his story.
Most memorable, however, was the technique of bringing us a terrific puzzle through a complex narration sequence. This book is written primarily in first person, from the main character, with multiple assists from other strong characters who often vie for the reader’s attention. The fantasy comes to life as we are invited to live directly in the experience of being a fledgling author, with all its gifts, quirks, and curses. The parallels to real-life writer’s block and the frustrations of knowing - and not knowing - what might come next in a book one is writing makes this a story perfect for anyone who writes, no matter their age or process.
This is high fantasy, presented in an urban setting, and meets all the criteria to fit the genre. There are magical artifacts, special potions and spells, a hierarchy of power, sacred societies, and exotic beasts. Also true to the genre, there are plenty of battles, and a few were fairly intense. Mr. Scavone has done his research on stage combat, as each fight was step-by-step visually believable.
My only critique for this book is that I would have preferred more emphasis on the backstory and the emotional and intellectual “emergence” of the main character rather than the many moments of combat. I’m far more interested in the psychological elements of a struggle than the physical… and I recognize that I am in the minority among Young Adult Fantasy readers.
The ending left me wondering if this book may be the first in a series. If it is, I will watch for the next book, and read it, too. I would also be interested in reading a prequel… should such a thing ever come into being. Thank you, Jordan, for a fun romp through a writer’s imagination.
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