Unleashed by Jennifer Hartz

Unleashed by Jennifer Hartz
Heroes of the Horde Book One
Publisher: Desert Breeze Publishing
Genre: Contemporary, Paranormal, Sci-Fi/Fantasy, YA
Length: Short Story (133 Pages)
Age Recommendation: 12+
Rating: 4 Stars
Reviewed by Cyclamen

Six mismatched students at Deacon Proprietary are about to discover the demonic legend of their school’s origin is actually true. Not only have they obtained amazing powers, but they’ve also unleashed the demonic Horde. Now it’s up to these six high school freshmen to stop the Horde before its evil spreads throughout the school and beyond.

Shelly and her twin brother, Mike, along with Maggie, Jimmy, Cooper, and Caitlyn, freshmen at Deacon Prep, learn that the demonic legend surrounding the school’s founding is actually true when Cooper unwittingly knocks a box containing a set of small jars onto the floor, breaking all the jars. The next morning these six students wake up, each with a different power. In addition to acquiring magical powers, they learn that the demon Horde has also been unleashed and it is up to them to defeat this army of demons.

Jennifer Hartz has written a very engaging story. The point of view switches between the six main characters chapter by chapter, which allows the reader to get to know each one in some depth. The six students become good friends, bonding together as they fight off demons, one at a time, then several, and then twenty or more. In between battles, there is the usual teen angst over various romances, which makes the story very real. These students are regular high school students who just happen to have super-human abilities.

I really liked the main characters and I thought they seemed very authentic. And it was definitely helpful to have the different points of view, although sometimes the shifts took me by surprise if the story was in the middle of a battle. I also enjoyed the diversity among the students, both in their individual personalities and in their very different family situations. Jimmy comes from a very wealthy family but his father has remarried and seems to have no time for him. Cooper’s family is very close, but they are also poor and need several jobs just to keep Cooper and his brother in Deacon Prep. Shelley and Mike live with their mom who works several shifts to keep them fed. Their father ran off years ago. Maggie is a devout Christian who spends a lot of time at her church, and Caitlyn has just moved to Pennsylvania and doesn’t know many students yet. I felt that this diversity in backgrounds and personalities really added depth to the story as the students learn to deal with the enormous changes in their lives brought about by the new powers.

Fans of the paranormal and fantasy will certainly enjoy Unleashed. This is the first book in a new series and I look forward to the Heroes of the Horde’s next adventure.

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