Although this is a ghost story, and a phenomenal one at that, it also makes me want to do a health detox. After all, that was the instigating factor for the paranormal chaos that followed. Plus, the idea of removing toxins from the body is always an interesting one. Although, each and every person tends to have their own take on how this works, I mostly enjoyed the idea that the detox focused on removing things like alcohol and cigarettes. Yes, there were other aspects of the detox factor, but the idea to find a happier, healthier you was inherent within the characters’ motivations – something which I can appreciate. The fact that a happier, healthier body meant better access to the paranormal world and the girls’ spiritual understanding? Just a fantastic angle to the story!
After the disappointment that was Eadlyn’s character in The Heir, The Crown COMPLETELY restored my faith in the child of Maxon and America. In the finale of this series, Eadlyn not only finds herself and a way to rule her country in her own way, but she finally gives love a chance and lets it in. Honestly, I couldn’t think of a better way to tie off a beautiful series that really makes you believe in true love. Not only is there a happy ending, but you also get to find out how Maxon and America spend the rest of their lives.
I honestly don’t think that I liked Eadlyn until the very last page of this story. She was self-centred, over-privileged and convinced that no one else is as good, or powerful as her. The vulnerability that was revealed in some of her words did help to lessen my disgust at her character, but it only lessened it. Eadlyn’s very make-up and personality screamed over-privileged, spoilt child, and after reading about America’s plight to find love in the preceding three books, it was difficult to see how she could have created such a difficult-to-like young woman.
Marlee and America’s relationship is what we all want in a girlfriend – somebody who sees into the very heart of ourselves and still loves us, regardless. Her punishment for falling for a guard was a GIGANTIC turning point in the series, and it was interesting to see what truly happened in Marlee’s own words. This tale also helped to show the character of Marlee, her sweetness, her faithfulness and her amazing inner strength. The willingness to do anything for love is such a noble trait that quite frankly, few people have, and for me, Marlee epitomises this in such an understated way.
I found Aspen kind of difficult to love when I first met him, not that I disliked him in any way, shape or form, but I just didn’t quite love him. To be fair, it took me a while to truly fall in love with Maxon too – both men seemed to have a fair chance with America and they are both flawed enough to have made the falling for her difficult. However, The Guard helps to provide more insight into why he acted like a total and utter twerp. Well, other than being the beginning of the story and love triangle that is so integral to the series.
The Selection, The Elite and The One tell us the love story of America and Maxon, but all from his point of view. It was incredibly enlightening to see some of his first impressions of the Selection process and America in The Prince short story. His awareness of his father’s manipulations and his reluctance to truly trust anyone lest they hurt him helped to make more of his somewhat questionable reactions to America and their courtship more understandable and enlightening.
If it wasn’t for the introduction that Cass wrote at the beginning of this short story, I would find this a slightly awkward story to read. Although later in The Selection series, we realise that Clarkson is quite abusive, and even as a Prince, something was obviously not quite right about the man. Amberly’s blinding devotion to the man also sent shivers up my spine – I can’t comprehend anybody being that singularly obedient to one being.
I didn’t know what to expect out of this collection of short stories – The Selection series seemed to be pretty much complete at the end of The One. I was completely wrong though, finding out about Amberly, Maxon, Aspen and Marlee’s tales just helped to build on the intrigue and beauty of America’s love story. Their views of each other and the characters, and their histories helped me to further understand some of the actions that I found so frustrating while watching Mer fall in love.
This short story was a constant surprise for me – the tale never took me where I expected, which is always such a pleasant surprise when reading a new story and author. The twists and turns that The Beast of Blackmoor Bog took me on in such a short story were thrillingly enjoyable and I am now busy hunting for more writing by Vane.
As with the rest of the books in the Baba Yaga series, Wickedly Ever After reminds us all that we get a happy ending, even not-so-wicked witches. Although Barbara and Liam get engaged at the end of Wickedly Dangerous, their story isn’t quite finished, and it was such a pleasure to revisit their love in this short story. No matter what happens in these stories, I always turn the last page with a huge smile on my lips. Who wouldn’t? They are sweet, endearing tales of triumph and love in the face of numerous obstacles.