Descendants by Rae Else

Descendants by Rae Else | Book Review

Title: Descendants (Arete series book 1)
Author: Rae Else
April 12, 2017, by Smashwords
Genre: Young adult urban fantasy
How I got the book: I received a free eARC from the author in exchange for honest review


There are lots of stories about the children of gods. But what about those cursed by the gods, and their descendants…

El, a seventeen-year-old has inherited an ancient and deadly power. She loses control of it, causing a horrific accident, and becomes the prey of a secret organisation known as the Order.

Forced from her family and home, she hides in plain sight amidst the crowds of London, and is thrust into a world that she never knew existed; one full of Arete: beings who possess extraordinary powers like hers.

Arete are beings that can trace their lineage and powers from Ancient Greece. They claim their inheritance does not come from the gods, rather legend says they are descended from cursed beings, such as Medusa.

At the heart of their world is the kerykeion, the symbol that protects them from the humans and the humans from them. El is trapped between two factions, one that has built an empire around the kerykeion and another that is determined to bring it down.

As she is drawn deeper into the conflict, the only way to find the truth is to take matters into her own hands, and the line between friend and foe becomes dangerously blurred.

My Review:


I was excited about this book when the author reached out to me. I love a good fantasy once in a while and the there was some talk about mythology, which was something I used to be really into. So, I decided to give it a go.


17-year-old El, the protagonist, is gifted with powers from her descendants. She loses control of it one day causing the death of an innocent. It’s because of that The Order is able to trace her and is out to get her.

El lives with her grandmother and has to leave to live with her estranged mother. Not having much of a choice, she goes. There, she meets a lot of people from a Rebel group as well as the son of a man from The Order. Soon, El isn’t sure which side is the “right” side or the “good” side. She’s unsure of who to trust and, because of that, the events of the book spiral out of control.

It’s an interesting concept, with a fun twist on their powers, but I felt as though I’ve seen it before. The protagonist doesn’t know who to trust and ends up flip-flopping back and forth between what’s right and what’s not.


I’ll be blunt: there wasn’t much character development. Individually, I enjoyed most of the characters. However, as we got to the end of the book (which is around 230-or-so pages) there was a change of heart for everyone, but I never saw it coming.

For example, El was reluctant to go with her mother, Anna, because she didn’t know her. She was given up as a baby and hadn’t seen her since. Then something happens to Anna and El acts like her and her mother were best friends and she’s defeated by it.

El didn’t seem to have a mind of her own and neither did Luke, the son of an Order member. As soon as Luke told El The Order was the good side, El immediately joined him. Then something happened (no spoilers) and she immediately went back to the Rebel side. Luke was the same way. As soon as El went back to the Rebel side and explained everything to Luke, he immediately believed her. There was no gradual change of sides, nothing to hint that they were unsure of everything that they had previously known from their entire lives.

Just about everything that happened to El in this book hurts her and I know it was meant to hurt me too. But I wasn’t bothered by most of it because I didn’t have the time to really get to know the characters and care about them.


I enjoyed the author’s writing style. I got a good sense of the overall world and I thought the flow of the words on the page was nicely done.

Following up with the characters, however, the pace was too fast. I didn’t feel as though I could sit back and enjoy the ride and I couldn’t feel tense at the parts that were meant to be tense because everything happened too fast.


While the plot was interesting enough and the overall writing was good, the fast pace is kind of a deal-breaker for me. It kept jolting me out of the story as characters came and went in the blink of an eye, important plot points happened quickly, and then before I knew it, the book was over.

I’m interested enough in the sequel, but the overall book was just okay for me.

Descendants (Arete book 1) by Rae Else gets…
3 Stars3 out of 5 stars

Favorite Quote:

“When she’d been younger, they’d seemed like the only world she would ever need. Now she saw the blades of grass and needles of trees for the barbed wire they were. She would be confined to this prison again, to live in its shadows.” –Rae Else, Descendants

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11 thoughts on “Descendants by Rae Else

  1. Although I haven’t read the book, and YA novels are a bit out of my typical reading genres, I feel your review was a fair one. Perhaps if the book had been expanded to 400+ pages, it could have reached its full potential. For me liking a book is all about liking and identifying with the characters.

    • I agree. It was still a good read and I wouldn’t mind reading the sequel when it comes out. But the characters are definitely what drives the story.

  2. Oh this sounds like it has so much potential! It would be great as a dark fantasy novel though, exploring the “bad” side of the great Olympian gods. Oh well.

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