Terra Vonnel and the Skulls of Aries, by D.C. Akers (YA fantasy fiction; paperback, 110 pages). 3 of 5 stars.
Terra Vonnel and the Skulls of Aries reads like Pirates of the Caribbean meets Indiana Jones for the teen set. It’s a speedy 11,000 words in e-book format, meaning you can zip through it in one sitting without trouble.
The plot centers around 17-year-old pirate Terra Vonnel, who will stop at nothing to get her hands on a pair of magical skulls said to show the location of the Orb of Time. Once Terra steals the Orb for herself, she will be able to travel through time to save her murdered mother–and plunder to her heart’s delight along the way. But before she obtains her treasure, she must battle vampires, dead souls, cursed mountain passes and other treacheries and somehow come out alive.
At first I had a little trouble believing that someone so young could be such a notorious pirate, but I guess this novella is aimed at teenagers, so in that light it makes sense to have such a young protagonist. It’s nice to read a YA novella with a teen girl who’s kicking butt instead of moping around in a love triangle. (Cough, most YA novels these days, cough…or is it just me?)
It’s a pretty level adventure all the way through. I like stories with a feisty female lead, of course, but the story still has to flow and contain well-written fight scenes or else I lose interest. Luckily this novella has plenty of action and no unnecessary lags.
If I have one gripe it’s that the story was too short; it feels like it cuts off too soon and leaves you wanting a bit more resolution. However, I note on the Goodreads page for this novella that it’s the first in a series, so hopefully there will be new additions to the story coming soon–I’d like to read about more of Terra’s adventures.