The Charmed Return (The Faerie Path #6), by Frewin Jones

And here we are: the last stretch of Princess Tania’s journey through Faerie in The Charmed Return, the sixth book in the Faerie Path series. As I said before, I’ve pretty much been waiting ten years to find out how this story ended. And since I began this series when I was fourteen, it’s been a long time coming to find out the outcome of this adventure. And when a story is six books long, you would hope and pray that it ends with a dramatic and cathartic conclusion. Um…let’s see…

Image result for the charmed return by frewin jones

In order to save the land of Faerie from the plague, Princess Tania paid with her dearest possession: her memories of being a Faerie princess. Stuck in the Mortal World again, she must find a way to regain her memories and resume her quest. But there is a greater threat looming in Faerie, and Tania holds the very key to saving Faerie once and for all.

Because this is a final installment, every loose end and storyline must be solved. And rather than rushing toward the climax, this one keeps the same pace as much of the other books. The stakes are still high, but it does not feel quite as final as it should. Provided, it’s not just the land of Faerie that’s in jeopardy but the Mortal World as well. Having such high stakes this time around should make things feel more exciting, but it kind of just feels like another Faerie adventure.

That’s not to say that I was not invested—far from it! I broke bedtime a few times just to find out what was going to happen next. There are dangers and twists in this book that are genuinely terrifying and suspenseful. I think it’s only in the final act that things begin to slow down.

In typical fantasy fashion, Tania is literally the only person who can begin and also stop the end of the world, and the story beats to satisfy that climax feel tired and predictable. Mortals and faeries alike are dying, and yet I didn’t really feel as invested as I should.

Plus, the ending leaves a few things open. Even when the battle is won, there are a few important things that are not explained or shown to the reader. That might mean that the writer intends to go back to this world at some point, but it’s been ten years since this book, and there’s been nothing more from Faerie. And so, I sit here feeling a little unsatisfied with the Faerie Path finale.

Normally, when I finish a good series, there is a tremendous sense of catharsis: that the story is truly over, the characters have gone on a journey, and that a door is closing in the world. But because this series leaves some questions unanswered, I don’t really feel like the story properly concluded.

There is also the matter of how these characters developed. For some characters, you do get a sense of growth: they made mistakes that affected a great many people, but they learned from it and redeemed themselves. However, I don’t quite get that sense from Tania. As the protagonist of this series, she should have the greatest arc of them all, but she sort of just stayed the same throughout the books.

You do learn more about Tania as the books go on, and she does have a little personality. But there is no greater sense of maturity about her by the end of the story. Maybe if she actually got older as the books continued, or maybe if she began to adopt some Faerie royal mannerisms, I would be more satisfied with her arc. In the end, she was sort of just the standard-issue fairytale heroine who had a unique, enviable, and amazing ability, got the man of her dreams, and saved the world in the process. 

I think part of the problem is because the whole story is told from Tania’s perspective. We never get into the head of other characters so we can understand their side of the story. It would have been especially helpful to get into the head of Edric, Tania’s love interest. If we could understand how he came to love Tania, how he was tempted into learning the Dark Arts, and how he rallied a whole army to his side, maybe their supposed “true love” would have more weight. But more importantly, Edric would feel like a character other than Tania’s true love.

Does that mean that this series was not good overall? Absolutely not! Even with my dissatisfaction with the ending, and my general opinion that the cast is underdeveloped, I still wanted to learn more about Faerie. I still want to see more places and go on more adventures so I could better know the characters. As I’ve been saying since I started reviewing this series, Faerie is a world you can easily get lost in and enjoy every moment of it.

I’ll probably still re-read the first three books of this series a few more times. But in that case, I can just pretend that the last three books did not happen, since their impact was just not as great. I really like this series, but there are definitely more compelling, not to mention complete, fantasy series out there.

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