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City of the Divine Sun by Holly McCaghren
Serena was the child of a Maya father and an archaeologist mother who specialized in Maya culture. Until she was about five, her life seemed to be almost perfect. Her parents were happily married. Her father was a tour guide at the ruins where her mother worked diligently excavating to uncover more of the site. Then, shortly after her fifth birthday, everything came crashing down around her. She was playing happily near her mother and then saw something and followed what she considered a new friend into the ruins. Hours later, her frightened parents found her.
She tried to tell her mother what happened, though she couldn’t really remember all the details. Later that night, she heard her parents fighting bitterly, her mother screaming about “visions” and her father explaining that “this” wasn’t supposed to happen. Her mother sent her father away. Even though she’d loved the man at first sight, she sent him away. Then, she sent Serena away too. Serena was to live with her maternal grandmother; the only explanation was that Guatemala was no longer safe for her. Every Sunday afternoon, she called Serena.
Madeline Bakal, Serena’s mother never missed a call, until a few days ago. After she missed that first call, Serena began having visions; the first vision was of a jaguar. Finally, she confided in her grandmother, who told her she must find her mother; only her mother could explain. So, Serena returned to Guatemala and began the search for her mother, only to discover she wasn’t the only person looking for Madeline Bakal.
City of the Divine Sun was not the story I expected when I began reading this book. I expected something much more shallow and insta-love than what I discovered. I love reading books pertaining to the Maya people and to the culture – a culture that disappeared and has lent itself to theories and questions for hundreds of years. Holly McCaghren managed to create a wonderful novel that delved into some of the aspects of the Maya culture while creating others in a beautifully mystical format that is perfectly in keeping with possibilities presented by those believing in anything of a mystical nature. Visions lead to safety or to other alternatives. Think of the possibilities! And McCaghren thought of many of them.
McCaghren studied her subject matter and created a novel with a diverse cast of characters, including those both good and evil. She designed an engrossing plot, a heroine that could be both amazingly strong and annoyingly weak, a hero that was devastatingly scrumptious, but also an actual good guy, threw in some horrendous and heartbreaking decisions and then gave us a beautiful and uplifting ending.
This novel is definitely one to add to the reading lists of anyone who loves the slightly paranormal romance reads, but who hopes to get more out of a book than simply gratuitous sex. This book was dedicated more to finding those things that were lost than it was sex. It was a very fulfilling and satisfying read in all ways.
I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for a fair and honest review. My comments and opinions are, as always, my very own.
I rate this very fine book four glittering and glowing stars.
This was a very entertaining read. I loved going along on the adventure and seeing lots of hidden artifacts and treasures though the authors eyes. I really liked Serena as she really hasn't seen her mother much while she was growing up and hadn't heard from her dad since she was a child. She really isn't used to jungles or her visions but she works at improving them. She also has an odd relationship with Ryder. Ryder has his own secrets and for a long time you aren't really sure what side he is on. He always has Serena's back and you can tell they like each other but there isn't a love thing going on. This book is more a dangerous adventure and about Serena learning her heritage and about her powers. I have to say besides the Baron the one character I didn't like is Serena's mom. She is so absorbed in her work she doesn't at times seem to care that she has a family. In some ways she is very selfish. If you like to explore hidden cities with danger all around you will like this book. You also have that magical feel as you watch Serena grow in her abilities and come into her own.