The YA and teen book market is flourishing and there is particular demand for series titles. A lot of what is being published in the UK is dealing with big, often sensitive issues, which is important but there is a gap for those who want more lightness – a reader perhaps who has devoured their way through the popular Rainbow Magic series and books of that ilk and who has moved on to the stage where they are looking for something a little meatier without going on to full-out fantasy or gritty social issues.
Enter Benita Jayne, whose debut novel in her “Angel Messengers” series might provide a satisfactory bridge. There’s a good lead character here, the feisty Amethyst, relocated to a new home in Wiltshire and prepared to play the fool on her first day at a new school. A discovery at home leads Amethyst and new pal Rosalina into the Angelic Kingdom where a battle between forces of light and darkness is being planned. The transition from school story to the world of angels did jar a little for me as Amethyst, who has played the teenage lack of acceptance card until then becomes disappointingly docile entering the world of angels. The girls are trained to play their part in the oncoming battle and I would have liked to see Amethyst’s feistiness come through during this training. I couldn’t imagine the earlier Amethyst instantly accepting instructions such as “I would like you to feel immense love in your hearts whilst directing your wands towards the dark energies.” The training section felt a little rushed with the characters temporarily losing their identities (overpowered by the angels?). I know there’s a desire to get on with the main event (the battle) but a series gives the luxury of being able to get the groundwork just right. Once out of the Angelic Kingdom Amethyst and Rosalina reverted to type chatting about the couple of boys they met there.
The problem I have with a lot of books that deal with the fantastic is that events can dominate characters. It is tricky to get the balance just right but when it works the results can be superb. Benita Jayne has managed to portray good, convincing characters but they become inconsistent in the Angelic Kingdom.
Once we are onto the quest to recover the Crystal Pyramid from the darkness the author’s enthusiasm for the realm of angels shines through and there’s a strong section when Amethyst faces peril and does more closely resemble the earth-bound teenager and things do come to a satisfactory conclusion. I would be interested to know where Benita Jayne goes next with this series as she hasn’t really set anything up so she can probably take the series anywhere. There’s much mileage in the healing power of angels and the points where they touch our lives. I’m sure there will be many readers willing to find out more about these angel messengers.
The Sacred Crystal Pyramid was independently published in 2013. It can be purchased from Amazon by following this link