Review: Varuna Kannon and the Caluminar's Cave

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Varuna Kannon and the Caluminar's Cave
by Jarucia Jaycox Nirula

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Varuna Kannon / B003CV7TFS

Varuna Kannon never realized how much she just wanted to be a normal teenager until her parents told her on her 14th birthday about her role as a guardian of the planet, destined to train and work as a magical protector of the world. Now she must adjust to her new life at boarding school as a magical prodigy, while trying to stay away from the dangerous and frightening Malovias...

Certain to appeal to "Harry Potter" fans seeking the next big magical prodigy series, "Varuna Kannon" has captured the angst and ambivalence that most would feel upon learning that they have super-powers and are destined to protect the earth, as a sort of "Captain Planet" witch. The technical aspects of the writing are solid, and the "pirate queen" aspect has a definite sea-oriented, refreshing appeal.

While the appeal of this excerpt is strong, I feel that the novel is still in need of some editing and polish. The opening chapters center around Varuna having already found out how special and different she is, and her angst surrounding that revelation, but the tension is lost since the reader does not yet care about Varuna as a character. It's always difficult to feel pity for characters who are "Cursed with Awesome", no matter how realistic it would be to feel ambivalent about actual magic powers, and a novel has to overcome the fact that most readers would give their right arm for magic powers. Compensations can be made by, for instance, dropping an accompanying tragedy on the youngster or by thoroughly characterizing the individual, so that the reader can fully understand why an awesome calling like "magical planet warrior" would be a legitimately difficult thing for the character to adjust to. I would strongly recommend this route - thorough characterization - as I believe that it would heighten reader involvement. Varuna makes mention of how her 14th birthday was ruined by learning her fate, and I think it might make sense to start with that scene, as opposed to a few weeks later while she's still coming to terms with it. I believe in that way, the reader can identify better with Varuna by imagining how they would cope with such a scene, as it unfolds.

NOTE: This review is based on a sample excerpt of this book provided through the ABNA contest.

~ Ana Mardoll

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