The Books of Alexandrea Book 2: The Between
Written by J.H. Nadler
Published by WorkingCat
September 12, 2022
Paperback, 466 pages
Jason Nadler calls this his Empire Strikes Back for the series, and while it’s not quite that much of a sequel, The Between does raise the stakes quite a bit in the on-going battle between various factions of magic users vying to dominate and gain absolute control over magic itself.
The story picks up with an expanded chapter that was included in the first book, as Alexandrea and Abby are recovering from their last battle. New threats immediately present themselves, and we’re on a path to new confrontations and new questions as Alex learns more about the power she has and how to control it. And as she learns more, she starts to get a sense that not everything is as it appears, and that maybe everyone she trusts may not be that trustworthy.
We spend quite a bit of time in The Between, where Alex encounters all manner of spiritual manifestations of witches from around the world. Sort of an astral plane, where witches can project themselves outside of their bodies to commune and communicate with others from various points on the globe. It’s here that Alex learns more about what kind of power she has, how to control it, and thus begin making plans to do battle with Jeremiah and Matthew to save her cousin Billy. It’s also here where it’s established that if your spirit is destroyed in The Between, your physical body also dies.
The Between is an intriguing concept, actually. It seems to be a space neither Heaven nor Earth, where astral projections of people can meet, congregate, even build whole societies of support groups and communities. One can communicate with the dead here, as there’s no real difference between the souls of the living and the souls of the dearly departed. It’s here in The Between that Alex gets time with her Mother, learning a few things about circumstances to hand and trying to figure out what to do about it. And when Alex’s presence in The Between gets noticed by nefarious forces, she has to again face the notion that while she has quite a bit of magical power, she’s still a long way away from being able to control it with Jedi Master level skill.
And this time, the Book Club — that coven of ladies who didn’t really realize they were a coven — now gets more to do, and they realize that the stakes are much higher than they ever imagined. Alex leads them to the Library, where she confronts Jeremiah and gets a little more than she bargained for. This is also where Rose gets a bit of a showcase as we head into the third act with the next book. There are some new “alliances” in this Act II, as well, with Alex attempting to destroy the Library and absorb the magic trapped there so that Matthew (her adversary) can defeat Jeremiah (her greater adversary).
Alex also finds out more about the role her father played in all of this, which goes back to the overall question of who to trust and who to hold at arm’s length.
As with the first book, the pace and narrative flows along smoothly, and while there may have been one or two extra side trips into The Between, they ultimately served to set up the confrontation at the Library and what I assume will be the overall Big Bad Battle that’s coming in the climax of the next book. If I had anything that could be considered a “complaint” for this outing, it’s that the point-of-view switches. The first novel was told from Alex’s perspective throughout, and this one started that way, until the narrative flips to Alex’s cousin Rose, who gets a taste of what it means to wield magic in a way that sets her on a course for a destination I suspect will be emotionally taxing for them both. The Switch in POV is likely necessitated by the events of the story, but it still felt a little jarring because of how the story’s been told up to that point. It’s still third person limited, but the limit has just expanded to a second character. My guess is that this will continue through the course of the third book and end in tears.
Overall, though, I’ve enjoyed these first two books in the trilogy, and I’m looking forward to the conclusion. And I have no qualms about recommending that you add it to your reading list.