fantasy book reviews science fiction book reviewsfantasy book reviews A.J. Hartley Act of WillWill Power by A.J. Hartley

Will Power is A.J. Hartley’s second book about actor-turned-adventurer Will Hawthorne. It’s a direct sequel, beginning just a month after the events in Act of Will, but a reader could easily enjoy this book without reading Act of Will.

In Will Power, Will and the gang are swept away to what appears to be a parallel universe in which goblin-like creatures are threatening the beautiful people of Phasdreille. But all is not as it seems, and Will finds himself needing to solve a mystery and, at the same time, confronting some of his own prejudices.

If you enjoyed Act of Will, you’ll probably enjoy Will Power. It’s a very similar book, but perhaps a little too similar for my taste. While the writing style and dialogue continues to be spot-on perfect, some of what was refreshingly unique about Act of Will starts to feel a bit stale in its sequel. Most noticeably, the plot of Will Power contains many of the same elements as the first novel’s plot does: reluctant adventure, mystery about what’s motivating and powering a race of people that are acting strangely, a companion thought to be dead, Will sneaking into a forbidden room and having a flash of insight that saves the day, etc.

The characters remain the same, too. There is no development in any of them — Will’s sarcasm, selfishness, and cowardice were charming at first, but there were times in Will Power that his personality started to annoy me. Most of the other characters are sketchily drawn, so there isn’t anyone to heartily root for. While I enjoy laughing at Will (the novel is truly funny), I can’t really love him.

Unfortunately, this lightness affects the tension of the novel, too. Because it’s a comedy, the “scary” moments don’t evoke much fear. The evil isn’t very frightening, the conflict is solved and dissipated quickly, and the constant humor and lack of character development makes the novel feel more like an episode of Scooby Doo (complete with moaning zombies).

But if you’re looking for a light fantasy novel with a bit of mystery, A.J. Hartley’s Will Hawthorne series is a good place to go. The writing is excellent and funny, and Will is a… “special” hero. His adventures are sure to please those looking for a quick enjoyable read.

Will Hawthorne — (2009-2013) Publisher: Act of Will is a boisterous fantasy adventure that introduces us to Will Hawthorne, a medieval actor and playwright who flees the authorities only to find himself inextricably bound to a group of high-minded adventurers on a deadly mission. Will travels with them to a distant land where they are charged with the investigation and defeat of a ruthless army of mystical horsemen, who appear out of the mist leaving death and devastation in their wake. In the course of Will’s uneasy alliance with his new protectors, he has to get his pragmatic mind to accept selfless heroism (which he thinks is absurd) and magic (which he doesn’t believe in). Will must eventually decide where his loyalties really lie and how much he is prepared to do — and believe — to stand up for them.

fantasy book review A.J. Hartley 1. Act of Will 2. Will Powerfantasy book review A.J. Hartley 1. Act of Will 2. Will Power    fantasy and science fiction book reviewsfantasy and science fiction book reviews


  • Kat Hooper

    KAT HOOPER, who started this site in June 2007, earned a Ph.D. in neuroscience and psychology at Indiana University (Bloomington) and now teaches and conducts brain research at the University of North Florida. When she reads fiction, she wants to encounter new ideas and lots of imagination. She wants to view the world in a different way. She wants to have her mind blown. She loves beautiful language and has no patience for dull prose, vapid romance, or cheesy dialogue. She prefers complex characterization, intriguing plots, and plenty of action. Favorite authors are Jack Vance, Robin Hobb, Kage Baker, William Gibson, Gene Wolfe, Richard Matheson, and C.S. Lewis.