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Embolden: Forbidden #2    by Syrie James & Ryan M. James order for
by Syrie James
Order:  USA  Can
Self, 2018 (2018)
Softcover, e-Book
* *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

Embolden follows Forbidden as the second in a YA fantasy series written by Syrie and Ryan M. James. In the first episode, Claire Brennan started to have visions of past and future events, that turned out to be true. She also found that she could suddenly sing like an angel, having never been able to hold a note before. She learned that she's a Halfblood (half angel) with awakening powers.

While Claire's life changed, readers also met Alec MacKenzie after he went AWOL from his duties as an angelic Watcher. He sought to experience a normal teen existence at Claire's school, Emerson. They fell hard for each other. In this first episode, Claire also met her grandmother Helena (who has has strong 'psychic mojo') for the first time

As Embolden opens, Claire lives with her mother Lynn and grandmother. Together with Alec, they have undertaken a mission to find Claire's father (Tom), who disappeared sixteen years before. Grandma is able to show them past events, in the right place and circumstances. They discover that Vincent, the Watcher who wanted Claire dead, had threatened Tom. Then they see him kidnapped by the Fallen.

As well as angelic encounters, the episode is filled with teen angst, as Claire's best friend Erica distances herself, and Claire discovers a new talent, to influence others in a kind of 'Jedi mind trick'. Though Grandma forbids her to use it, Claire yields to temptation. But she never loses sight of her goal, to find and save her father, and eventually enlists all of her friends in a Mission Impossible rescue.

Though this episode rambles all over the map, it builds to an action-packed crescendo in Taipei, followed by a celebration of Tom's reunion with his family. But neither her family nor friends know that Claire had made a deal with the devil to find her dad - she's beholden to the Fallen and they will claim their due.

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