There are two author tricks I hate when I read the final, climactic book in a series. Bless her, Jessica Sorensen avoids both of them in "The Promise," her excellent finale to the "Fallen Star" series.
The first of these sins is "the never-ending goodbye." That's when the story has come to a close, but the author keeps dragging things out, postponing ad nauseamthose final two words, "The End." Three, four, sometimes five or more perfect ending points go by, but the author is still milking it. Ugh.
The second, more egregious violation is what lit major types call deus ex machina. This comes from ancient Greek drama, and basically means "god in the machine." In modern fiction, it means "the author wrote him/herself into a corner, and has to cheat to get him/herself out by pulling some cheap-ass stunt out of thin air." For example, you have your three main characters about to be killed by a street gang of werewolves. Right before the biting starts, one of them suddenly discovers she has the ability to fire lightning bolts out of her fingers, and thus they're saved.
Jessica Sorensen, as I said, was perfect in avoiding these two pitfalls. A number of unusual things happen during the book's climax, but every single one of them was set up earlier in this book (or one of the others). Also, when the story reaches its climax, there is a brief chapter or two after, showing the post-climax world, and that is it.
"The Promise" refers to the blood promise Gemma and Alex made before Gemma's soul was disconnected, back when they were little kids. Through most of this book, the couple were trying to set up for the great showdown with the evil Stephan, Alex and Aislin's father (and a completely evil bastard). There was no doubt that Gemma and Alex would have to die to save the world. They were okay with this, even though each wished the other could be saved somehow.
The duo had plenty of obstacles, too, including a couple of unlikely, unexpected, very powerful new enemies. They managed to work through each trial, and move closer to their inevitable date with death.
This series has been a joy to read, from the first chapter of book one to the last sentence of book four. The characters are beautifully drawn--thank God, there are no "perfect" characters. Like everyone, even the hero and heroine have flaws and foibles, and are prone to occasional bad moods. There are also seemingly evil characters who occasionally show a moment's grace.
The action is steady, but not hyperkinetic. A lot of things happen in "The Vision," but we are spared over-exposition of them. The book would be 8-million pages long the way some authors write.
Jessica Sorensen has written a beautiful series, with very little objectionable material. Tweens and up would probably like it. Hell, I'm a cynical adult with a Literature degree, and I couldn't stop reading these books, so "appeals to all ages" is pretty literal here.
Best of all, the series didn't feel wrung dry by the end. There was still gas in the proverbial tank, and plenty of different stories possible. Fans of the "Fallen Star" series will be glad to note that Ms Sorensen has a new spin-off series called "Fallen Soul." The first novel in that series--The Lost Soul--is available now.
I'm glad, because Gemma, Aislin, Alex, and friends are far too interesting simply to fade away.