Julia Unbound, Catherine Egan; Erin Spencer, narrator (Listening Library, $32.95, digital download, 11.5 hr., unabridged). August 2018.
The final installment of The Witch’s Child trilogy is a real race against time that practically explodes with plot. Julia’s brother Dek has been captured by the sinister Casimir and implanted with a sac of poison that will kill him in a couple of weeks. To save her brother, Julia has accepted Casimir’s contract, in the form of a creepy insectoid thing implanted in her wrist that is slowly traveling toward her brain. Once it’s there, she will be under Casimir’s mental control and forced to give up the location of Theo, the toddler who holds within him the remaining third of the apocalypse-inducing Book of Disruption. In the meantime, Casimir wants Julia to prop up his candidate for the throne of Frayne, an intelligent and extremely attractive but unworldly young duke, against a rebel claimant, the newly arrived but savvy Princess Zara. Can Julia prevent her brother’s poisoning, pretend to serve Casimir while also supporting Zara and the rebels, forestall the creature from reaching her brain, save Theo, stop Casimir from assembling the Book of Disruption… and figure out the source of her vanishing power and how it connects to her dead witch mother’s past?
It’s a lot, but somehow it all hangs together, and the rapid, action-packed pacing makes for some very exciting listening. There’s no role for Will Damron in this production, which is just as well, since his talent wasn’t sufficiently utilized in the previous two books. Spencer does her usual expert job voicing the strong-minded Julia, now more beset than ever with problems. In my review of book one, Julia Vanishes, I remember writing that Julia was not as tough as she thought she was. By the time we’ve reached book three, time and bitter experience have made her that tough, and both Egan and Spencer beautifully portray a young woman in difficult circumstances desperately struggling to maintain her moral center and preserve the ones she loves.
This review and more like it in the October 2018 issue of Locus.
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