Review – The Felix Chronicles: Freshmen, by R.T. Lowe

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4 out of 5

Title: The Felix Chronicles: Freshmen

Author: R. T. Lowe

Genre: Urban Fantasy

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“The Felix Chronicles: Freshmen” by R.T. Lowe is an urban fantasy novel that brings magic and the occult to a seemingly typical college in the Pacific Northwest. But it is evident from the outset that nothing about this setting or the characters involved is typical.

Following a prologue that sets the magical struggle in motion hundreds of years prior, long-time best friends Felix and Allison arrive for freshmen orientation at Portland College in Oregon. We quickly learn that Felix has issues being around people or in stressful situations following the recent deaths of his parents in a mysterious fire where Felix was the sole survivor. None of this bodes well for Felix because nothing is going to be easy for him here.  There is an air of mystery surrounding the college and the nearby area. The college has a dead campus that was abandoned years ago, as well as secret rooms and hidden tunnels on the main campus. In the forest nearby, there are reports of people going missing, never to be seen again. Also, a serial killer is on the loose murdering teens that fail his otherworldly test.

To make matters worse for Felix, he must navigate the usual troubles of adapting to life in college – frat parties, sex and booze, and getting in the way of the wrong people.

Writing a full summary of this novel is difficult because there are a lot of moving parts. That is understandable, as this is the lead book of what will be a series (one that I look forward to reading). It would be like trying to detail “Harry Potter And The Sorcerer’s Stone” by explaining the history of wizardry and Hogwart’s, and so on, and then trying to squeeze in the main storyline of the Sorcerer’s Stone. So, I think in summary, what really needs to be said is this:

Felix’s world is turned upside down when he learns from a mysterious “groundskeeper” at the college that he is an especially powerful “sourceror” (one whose power comes from The Source) in the middle of an epic battle between good and evil, between the Sourcerors, the Drestianites, and the Protectors. Not only does he learn that he is powerful, though uncontrolled at this point, he is actually akin to being “The One” – think Harry Potter, or Neo from The Matrix.

The main theme of this story is about discovery on all fronts.

This was a fun read. I love magic stories, and I love stories where the hero must develop over time and become a force to be reckoned with. I also loved the setting, and was transported back to my college days where life was both free and challenging at the same time. The characters were great and I had a strong interest in all of them. The dynamic between Felix and Allison held my interest throughout – best friends with the hint of something in the future maybe? Definitely a rising conflict, more likely. Everyone had a unique voice and balanced out the story. It was action-packed and kept moving at a good pace.

Of course, not everything can be perfect, but this story was close enough to warrant 4 stars. I only had one issue (that in turn caused a second issue) that interrupted my reading flow after a while. There was a lot to keep up with. It seemed that every other chapter introduced new characters. I think I understood the point (which was to keep the pressure on Felix’s timeline and to develop the secondary plots that will surely become issues in the next books), but I think a lot could have been consolidated and several sub-characters dropped or introduced in the later novels. The secondary effect of this was that the book was really long. I think it could have been pared down by a good hundred pages with no ill-effect. However, once I recognized the pattern, I skimmed a lot of these sidelines and moved back to the main characters.

Overall, I enjoyed this book very much. Good characters, good setting, a tremendously well-thought out plot – what’s not to love!

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