The Unleashing of Ren Crown
The Unleashing of Ren Crown finds Ren back at Excelsine University, complete with her motley crew of fellow delinquents and fresh off her adventures in the Third Layer. At first glance, Ren is relieved at the safe return of her best friend, but is shocked to discover Verisetti has hooked his claws into Olivia, creating a new—and exceptionally dangerous—obstacle to overcome. Determined more than ever, Ren and the swoon-worthy Dr. Greyskull, along with Marsgrove and (surprisingly) Professor Stevens, the team works to unravel the mystery of Verisetti’s latest puzzle.
Meanwhile, the Department is on the war path, with Stavros himself leading the charge. They are desperate to provoke Ren into displaying her magic and will stop at nothing to generate a response from Ren that will ultimately land her in the Departments hands—and their leash. The delinquents club (now referred to as the Bandits), rallies each time the Department threatens to destabilize the status quo and they continue to protect Ren and each other as much as possible.
We will fight him. I will help you fight him. I will help you save your world.
Desperate to return to a normal life as a student and friend, Ren launches herself back into her schoolwork and the ever-present Justice Squad duties. The effects of Bloody Tuesday are still painful obvious across campus, and Ren begins to focus more energies towards healing the grounds and the entire school community. Her circle of friends and connections continues to grow, resulting in Ren’s fierce determination to protect those around her to grow as well.
Ever present in her mind is Ren’s realization that her magic has the power to fix the numerous problems plaguing the entire magic community, including the destitute lands of the Third Layer. With a sense of inevitability, Ren decides she needs to truly understand how to use her magic to accomplish the seemingly impossible. But there is only one way to enter that magical rabbit hole, and the path is littered with tricks and traps, courtesy of the Department.
The five layers are like a massive five-floored brick building that exclusively houses wood carpenters. Except for you, who are a mason.
Relationships already formed continue to develop and change into something more and different, and Ren begins to sense something that has been painfully obvious to everyone but herself. Secrets from the past rear their ugly heads in an unexpected confrontation, and the annual Layer Shift Festival brings about a whole new level of terror that sweeps across the magical community with a vengeance.
With her friends rallied around her, Ren prepares herself for her biggest challenge yet, and she knows that one mistake can ruin everything. She is unwilling to risk those she loves, but soon realizes that some risks are unavoidable—the only thing to do now is to prepare for that which is inescapable.
The Unleashing of Ren Crown sets the tone for Ren’s future in a remarkable and irresistible fashion. Anne Zoelle continues to expand on her world-building, bringing in details about how the world as a whole functions and handles the various amounts—and types—of magic that is ever present in the community. Her interpretation of magical usage continues to push the boundaries of familiarity, keeping us on our toes with each new development, without pushing us too far over the edge of understanding.
The character development in Unleashing is as amazing as ever, per the usual talent from Zoelle. Every time I think I’ve finally got a grip on a character and what they are about, what their mindset is like, Zoelle drops hints of detailed information that throw my previous thoughts into disarray. Unraveling the mysteries behind the intricate characters is pure joy for me, and each new revelation unveils another layer of depth answers some questions, but also creates more questions. Secrets are plentiful in Unleashing, and each reveal compounds on the last as we finally get a peek into the history of some of Ren’s closest friends.
Constantine is like a dragon. He guards with fire the very few things he considers his.
With her friendships and connections continuing to grow, so too does the development of Ren’s enemies, evolving into something much more sinister than previously imagined. Ren’s enemies are everywhere and some are hidden in plain sight, while others are nested in shadows. The bad guys are only getting worse and the madness behind their fervor is increasingly disturbing. Ren is such a pure and wonderful soul, it kills me a little bit each time I read about her facing off with an enemy, wondering if this will be the moment that turns the tide away from Ren’s favor.
One of the most incredible things about Unleashing is the emotion Zoelle manages to convey so very well—through every event, on every page, every thought Ren has—the emotion portrayed throughout is incomparable. With Awakening, we saw Ren in an almost panicked desperation to restore her family back to rights. Protection found Ren faced with unmatched fear and despair. In Rise, Ren shores up all her determination to bring back her best friend. And in Unleashing, Ren runs the whole gamut of these emotions—and then some. Bringing all the themes of the previous books into a beautifully portrayed final stand, Ren is stalwart in her fierce desire to protect those who are unable to fend for themselves, fix everything that is wrong with the world she has come to love, and rise up to face the evilest of enemies.
Renewing and revitalizing campus, traipsing about in dreamscapes with Axer Dare, navigating through Layer Politics 101, aiding her friends with their numerous projects and handling Constantine’s never-ending insouciance, Ren is constantly on the move and Unleashing is a roller coaster of events. Calmer than the previous books in some ways, but far more intricate in other ways, Unleashing brings the developments to the Ren Crown series to a head, paving the way for the sure-to-be epic conclusion coming in the fifth and final novel. If the Ren Crown series isn’t already on your list of must-reads, pick up a copy and it is sure to become a top favorite right off the bat.
…twelve naked nymphs bathed in whipped cream sea foam couldn’t tear me away.
Click the book covers below to read the reviews for the other books in the series!