I love fantasy; it’s my favorite genre by far. However, so much of the fantasy genre is plagued by darkness. While that often makes for a very good story, one of the reasons I read is to escape from the real world, and that level of darkness negates escapism for me. When real life is hard, I sometimes feel overburdened when I add a grimdark novel to the mix.
And that is exactly why I loved this series so much. The past few weeks have been hard, but I always had this series to turn to for some distraction. Even in this book, which was by far the darkest in the series, there was just an unrelenting sense of hope. I can’t tell you how nice that was, to keep returning to a series with a main character who was doggedly optimistic in the face of staggering odds.
This installment was apocalyptic, with every character involved fighting together to prevent the end of the world. The fact that so many beings, humans and mages and spirits and dragons, could work together without killing each other was a huge testament to the influence Julius Heartstriker had had on his world. The fact that he could even gather all of the world’s dragons in one place without war breaking out was incredibly impressive. All of his pacifism and unerring forgiveness, which I have to confess irked me earlier on in the series, was totally validated in this final installment. Without his reputation for peace-making, the majority of the events in this book wouldn’t have been possible.
We also finally saw the ending of and reasoning behind all of Bob’s machinations. And they were fascinating! The mysterious pigeon is finally explained. We see a family that has always been at each other’s throats band together. There’s not much else I can say without giving away important plot points from preceding books, but I will say this: Heartstrikers is one of the most vibrant and refreshing series I’ve ever read in any genre. It’s uplifting and hopeful and clean. Because of that hopefulness, I always felt secure in believing that everything would work out okay in the end, even when things were at their darkest. Some people might find that such certainty dilutes the drama and tension of the story, but I didn’t find that to be the case. Why should we always have to fear the worst in order to truly appreciate the best?
I feel like I could recommend this series to anyone between the ages of 12 and 80 without worrying about the content. It doesn’t have foul language, the few sex scenes occur off-page, and there are honestly not very violent crimes outside of legitimate fights. Yes, there is blood and violence, but even that isn’t described in visceral detail. Do you know how few series there are that fit those perimeters that isn’t actually a middle grade series? Incredibly few. This is one of the cleanest things I’ve ever read outside of the middle grade or Christian genres, and I appreciated that more than I can say. I can actually tell people that this series is good, clean fun without feeling like I’m stretching the truth in any way.
I honestly can’t recommend this series highly enough. I know some people didn’t enjoy this last book as much as those that came before it, but I found it immensely satisfying. While not every book was a 5 star book, in my opinion this is definitely a 5 star series. I can already see if being a series I return to for comfort when life is hard or sad or not going according to plan. It’s a series that I’m already planning to ask my husband to buy me for Christmas, because these books deserve a place on my shelf.