Author: Terra Harmony
Series: Akasha #1
Release Date: 26 September 2011
Genres: Contemporary, Low/Urban Fantasy, New Adult
Source: Net Galley, Received from Publisher in exchange for an honest review
Goodreads | Amazon
Elemental powers in the palm of her hand...and it won't be enough to save her. When Kaitlyn Alder is involuntarily introduced to a life of magic, she becomes part of an organization hell-bent on saving the Earth. Just as her new-found life holds promises of purpose, romance, and friendship, the organization divides and a rogue member holds Kaitlyn hostage. Now one of the most terrifying men the human race has to offer stands between her and Earth's survival.
Trigger warning: The review you are about to read contains references to rape as it occurred in this novel.
Now, let me preface this negative review by stating upfront that the author includes a forward to the reader saying:
Water is the first book in the Akasha Series, a set of contemporary eco-fantasy novels. This book is for mature readers only. It contains sexual content, some of it non-consensual. Comments and criticism are always welcome and can be sent to… [redacted]
The reader has plenty of forewarning about the content and I am not at all suggesting that I didn’t know what I was getting into. I just didn’t expect it to be done in the way it was. Given the recent arguments about “blogger bullying,” I want to be very clear that this review speaks only to the book as the published work of the author. It is not personal or meant to “demean” the author.
We start with action: After getting caught in an avalanche, Kaitlyn wakes up locked in a room, with a clipboard of notes suggesting she’s being experimented on. Naturally, she tries to break out, whereupon she fights some guards and injures a guy named Shawn, and is saved by a guy named Micah. Micah then casually drops the info that Kaitlyn was brought to this place for a reason, they’ve cleared out her apartment and they know her parents are dead so no one will be looking for her. Most people would be concerned at this point, what with the obvious “there is nothing you can do” vibe. Kaitlyn shrugs and asks for another sandwich.
Micah takes her to meet Cato, her apparent godfather, who tells her she is a Gaia with power over the natural elements, and the natural disasters that seem to happen when she’s around are the Earth responding to her power – meaning that her powers led to the death of her parents. They’ve brought her to this place so that she can learn to control her powers, avoiding causing natural disasters, and help them with ecological preservation projects. Kaitlyn gets very angry, loses control of the power she didn’t know she had five minutes ago, and Micah breaks the connection by kissing her. She falls asleep in his bed, wakes up handcuffed to it, and uses her brand new powers to freeze and shatter the cuffs and embarks on escape attempt #2, which fails. She’s then offered a choice to stay or go – she chooses to stay and immediately starts sleeping with Micah.
So she’s decided to stay; let’s even ignore the bit about kidnapping and invasion of privacy because hey, she’s 21 and now she’s chosen to stay. We are sweeping this massive problem under the proverbial rug because we have bigger fish to fry, and their names are ALL THE MEN.
Shawn, having threatened her before and being an obviously lunatic, attacks her with a knife, intent on “marking” her. Micah rescues her:
Micah took a few steps toward Shawn. “She is not yours. I thought that was fairly obvious.” (Location 1326)
And then, when Kaitlyn asks Micah why Shawn was allowed near her after her previous issues with him:
“Yes, and I’m sorry. I should have taken what you said about Shawn more seriously. It’s just that, I’ve known him most of my life and I don’t quite understand him right now. I promise I won’t let anything like this happen again.” (Location 1358)
NO consequences for Shawn, and they continue to let him be around Kaitlyn and part of their overall mission despite this incident. Micah doesn’t ask WHY Shawn feels the need to hurt Kaitlyn, just growls at him for touching his woman.
Later, during a training exercise, Micah tells Kaitlyn that if she isn’t able to perform a task with distractions (him kissing her), he’ll force himself on her. Shawn is outside the training area “containing the situation” or something, I’m still not clear on what. Kaitlyn is justifiably furious that her love interest has no qualms about raping her, and escapes from the situation. She’s mad at him for a while but after one of the other team members, Alex, tells her that Micah was only matching her own intensity, she forgives him. So we have territorial love interest who says he’ll rape her if she doesn’t do what he says, and another male justifying it and making Kaitlyn feel bad for daring to feel her feelings, and all of them acting like wounded puppies. SUPER.
Still later, they (finally) go out on an eco-preservation trip and something goes wrong. Kaitlyn is swept away by a tidal wave and captured by Shawn, who SURPRISE SURPRISE turns out to be a craptard. Shawn rapes her, not because he likes her or wanted her and was shot down, but because he can and it will serve as a plot point for the next book. It was brutal and graphic, seemingly done for shock value and little else. When Kaitlyn is finally rescued from this insane sociopath, she wakes up with Micah’s sister in the room. Susan tells Kaitlyn that she’s safe, but doesn’t even ask if she’s okay, doesn’t ask what happened, and asks her if she might be pregnant.
And that’s the end of the novel. I’m not even going to talk about the horrible pacing, the lack of an actual overarching conflict in the plot, or how terribly annoying Kaitlyn was as a narrator. Thor, ‘splain to the nice people how I feel: