Review: THE MARKED SON by Shea Berkley

The Marked SonTHE MARKED SON – Keepers of Life by Shea Berkley

Entangled Publishing ~ August 2012 ~ 5 Stars

The son of a teen mom, Dylan Kennedy seems like he’s 17 going on 40, especially when she takes him to “visit” his unknown grandparents, unknown to him, and then abandons him with these strangers. It isn’t the first time that his mother has disappointed him, but Dylan along with the reader hopes it will be the last. His grandmother always hopes for the best, even when the worst confronts her. His grandfather is much more realistic, although he’s brought the Vietnam War home with him and sees danger in the shadows. He’s ready to deal with any threat and now he has Dylan for back-up.

Meantime Dylan has his own shadows to face. He discovers that he’s developed a strange reaction to “iron” when his grandmother wants him to hang up a skillet for her and the pan burns his hand. Okay, it’s a bit tricky to show someone that he may have hidden depths and this was an intriguing start to what he will learn about himself. While he and his grandparents wonder about his father, Dylan has a new concern. What is wrong with him? Why can he see strange shapes in the forest that no one else does?

And then there’s this girl who appears, disappears and reappears. He’s seen her before in his dreams, but now she’s become real. When they finally meet, she shares that he’s in danger. He’s from her world, but somehow he’s trapped on this mortal plane. And he has more magical powers than most wizards. Yet if he returns with her, he’ll be killed. Of course, she’s also being forced to marry Navar, an evil sorcerer so what’s a guy to do? For Dylan, it’s not a contest. He’ll follow her home and save her from the proverbial fate worse than death. Of course, along the way he’ll also have to save the endangered kingdom.

Dylan and Kera are brave, intelligent and definitely heroic with the youthful certainty that nothing “bad” can truly happen to them although they have seen and survived death and destruction. Both are wounded characters with a great deal of baggage. Dylan’s mother didn’t do right by him and he raised himself. Meanwhile, Kera’s widowed father didn’t do much better – he is the typical “go along to get along” guy which is why he won’t refuse the sorcerer who wants her. This means that Dylan and Kera have learned to face evil and depend only on themselves. Can they bond together and overcome their adversaries? Or will they always be uncertain allies?

While there are two other books in the trilogy from Entangled, it’s best to start at the beginning or the rest of the stories simply won’t make sense. They pick up where The Marked Son ends and continue the saga. Dylan and Kera are immensely likeable for all their naiveté. They were consistent and determined to find justice for others as well as themselves. Navar seemed a bit one-dimensional and could have used more depth. Sometimes, it seemed as if he should twirl his mustache like the bad guy in an old-time melodrama – and he could have used a few more minions. Overall, this was an interesting, entertaining read, a worthy introduction to the rest of the trilogy and I can’t wait to see what happens next to Dylan and Kera.

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