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Book review: ‘Relic’ is a magical, unorthodox Western

By Elizabeth Reid

For the Deseret News

Published: Sunday, Sept. 8 2013 3:00 p.m. MDT

"RELIC," by Renee Collins, Entangled Publishing, $9.99, 378 pages (f) (ages 14 and up)

It isn’t often a book set in an alternative reality during the 1860s can be called both a fantasy and a Western; yet “Relic” is both and also very much a romance as well. While it can initially be jarring to realize this novel is not the typical historical fiction, author Renee Collins does an excellent job making her first book not only believable but highly addicting.

The main differences between the 1867 found in today’s history books and the 1867 in this novel are the magical items known as relics. Relics are created from the bones of supernatural, prehistoric creatures. While these animals have long since been extinct, their magical essences have been left behind in their fossils, making relics highly desired and sought-after objects.

Collins introduces memorable characters who are easy to become attached to. The book starts out with an immature Maggie Davis, a scared teenage orphan who only desires to care for her younger sister. She progresses into a young woman who stands true to her moral compass while gaining respect and love from others as she realizes her powerful potential with relics.

The minor characters in “Relic” are just as unforgettable. Adelaide is a lovable prostitute with low self-worth who leans on Maggie’s strength. Yahn, an Apache prince, is a mysterious Indian from Maggie’s past who suddenly appears to saves her life. While Landon is the rugged cowboy Maggie yearns to be with, she also finds herself drawn to the mysterious Álvar Castilla, the wealthy relic baron. His assistant, Connelly, is a twisted man whose only goal is to hold others in his power.

Collins has done a masterful job with her first book. As magical as its namesake, “Relic” is a powerful work of fiction that can entwine readers into its parallel world and make them never want to leave.

The first volume in the series, “Relic” has light swearing and instances of alcohol use. Some perilous fight scenes are portrayed as well as violence against women. One minor character is a prostitute and, while not described, it is obvious what her job entails.

Collins graduated from Brigham Young University with a degree in history; she lives in Colorado with her family. “Relic” is her first novel.

If you go ...

What: Renee Collins book signing

When: Thursday, Sept. 12, 7 p.m.

Where: The King's English, 1511 S. 1500 East, Salt Lake City

Web: kingsenglish.com, reneecollinsauthor.com

Note: Places in the signing line are reserved for those who purchase a copy of "Relic" from the King's English.

Elizabeth Reid has bachelor's degrees in economics and history. She has worked in retail, medical billing, catering, education and business fields. Her favorite occupation is that of wife and mother. She can be reached at bizziereid@gmail.com.

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