Status: Complete, Word Count: 204,100, Pairing: None, Genre: Adventure
Author’s Summary: Alexandra Quick begins eighth grade at Charmbridge Academy angry and in denial. When guilt and obsession lead her to a fateful choice, it is not only her own life that hangs in the balance, for she will uncover the secret of the Deathly Regiment!
Characterization: Characterization wise, I’d argue that this is probably the best that Alexandra Quick ever gets. The arcs that Inverarity puts these characters through in this book are equal parts heartbreaking and impressive, and just…..there were so many times throughout this fic when my jaw hit the floor because of how good the character arcs were, and I’m warning you now, brace yourself for what will essentially be an unbridled praise for this section, because this fic’s character work is off the fucking charts. Also, be warned, spoilers for books one and two from here on out. So at the end of The Lands Below, Alexandra watches her brother sacrifice himself to save her life—something that essentially had to happen because she forced him to allow her to join him on his mission. This book’s entire arc for her character is her figuring out how to cope with that. As a result, in many ways, this features her least and most linear character arc of the entire series thus far. Because by the end, what she’s learned to do is accept Max’s death and stop actively blaming herself for it, but to get there, she goes through several major character progression relapses. Now, I personally really like this arc. Is it frustrating at times? Sure. However, I never found that it was difficult to read, and the arc that she ultimately goes through is, at the end of the day, satisfying. So yeah, Alexandra’s once again great. Next up is Anna, and…..poor Anna. She really deserves a better best friend than Alexandra, but at the same time, her loyalty is admirable. This fic tests Alexandra and Anna’s friendship more than the previous two do, and I think it’s really interesting to see their relationship go through so much shit throughout the book and yet emerge mostly intact at the end. Not that Alexandra is Anna’s only concern though, because her father is in prison for a good chunk of the book, and this forces her to make several difficult choices, and although we hardly ever get a glimpse of her actual thoughts, Inverarity does a very good job conveying why she takes the actions she does. Constance and Forbearance both fall into the background a little bit in Deathly Regiment. This isn’t a negative exactly, as they were never especially prominent characters, but it is something worth noting, I think. However, for Ozarker fans, there is a new character introduced in this fic: Innocence Pritchard, who is the younger sister of Constance and Forbearance. She is an absolute riot, and one of the funnier characters introduced in the series. However, what raises her above a standard comic relief character for me is that she actually has a big part to play in the fic’s plot, and I really appreciated that. David is still there, and he’s his usual self, although he’s definitely not as prominent here as he was in books one and two. Again, not a negative, just something to note. Several of the characters introduced in book two return in this book as well. Thalia and Julia King are back, and I still think they’re both great. Not much to add that I didn’t say in my review of Lands Below, but they continue to be a great addition to the series, and Abraham Thorn is his usual dramatic, somber, and mysterious self, although I do really like how his more Paternal side continues to be developed. Great stuff all around. As for new characters, we get to meet yet another of Abraham’s daughters: Valeria White. I personally didn’t find her to be nearly as interesting as Julia or Maximillian, and it felt as though she was more there just to service a specific plot line and arc for Alexandra, but I think she serves that purpose rather well, and I liked that her conflict with Alexandra didn’t just instantly resolve itself by the end of the book. Have I mentioned how much I enjoy how actions have consequences in Alexandra Quick? Because I really do like that. Now, I suppose all there’s really left to talk about is Darla, because her character arc picks up right where it left off at the end of The Lands Below. She becomes even more of a direct antagonist to Alexandra, and I felt that Inverarity handled her entire story even better than he did in book two. As a main antagonist, I think that Darla starts off appearing to be a bit generic. However, as the story progresses, and her motivations not only become clear but also tie directly into the plot, her story becomes more and more compelling until her final showdown with Alexandra is probably the best finale in any of the AQ books so far. So I’ve rambled quite a bit, but….yeah, I continue to adore the way the characters in Alexandra Quick are written. This is some crusade-worthy material right here.
Plot: I think the plot of Alexandra Quick and the Deathly Regiment is quite good. I talked a lot about how Alexandra’s arc dominates a lot of the story in the characterization section, so this will be a bit more brief than normal. I would say that, overall, this fic can be divided into two sections: Alexandra’s first attempt to bring Max back to life, and Alexandra’s second attempt to bring him back. In between these, Darla’s story arc runs consistently throughout, and becomes a really bit thing near the end. So of these plotlines, the best one for me is easily Alex’s second attempt. We get to explore The Lands Beyond in a lot more depth, and we get to see some really cool and creative magic being done. Not to mention, if I thought the Lands Below were cool in Book Two, holy shit the climax of this story is insane. I won’t even spoil it, it’s that fucking good. Read the damn fic if you want to know what I’m talking about. Besides that, Darla’s story is very engaging, and the general Deathly Regiment story that ties in with her arc is fucking fantastic. This gets expanded on much more in World Away, but it’s a fantastic twist when Alex finally realizes what’s going on. We also get to return to the Lands Below in the climax of the story, which is a fun trip down memory lane. It’s also a fantastic show of Alex’s growth over the course of the story, because holy shit she tears through it, and it’s also great at showing the growth she still has yet to go through, because of course she sprints directly into another sticky mess that has far reaching consequences and ramifications. My only criticism here is that I don’t find the first chunk of the story to be all that engaging. I really like the ideas going on there, but I felt like it dragged a bit. I mean, thank fucking god that the character work there was great because that essentially redeemed it for me (I’ve said before that I can enjoy a boring storyline if the characters are good), but it is something to take note of, I think. I think this is a top tier story, with some fucking 10/10 moments sprinkled throughout. Great stuff, all around.
Action: The action in Alexandra Quick has always been heart-pounding, nail-biting fun, and that continues to be the case. I don’t want to go into too much detail here, but I do have to shout out Alexandra and Darla’s final confrontation, because it’s some of the most intense, tightly written action I’ve ever had the pleasure of reading, and Sam Gabriel’s fantastic narration only added to my enjoyment. Truly, one of this series’ many, many highs and an absolute standout in terms of action in fanfics. Authors, take note, this is what amazing action looks like. Crusade-worthy stuff all around.
Dialogue: The dialogue in Deathly Regiment is, overall, about as good as it was in the first two. I have basically nothing new to say here, but go read my reviews of books one and two if you want a more in depth analysis, because everything I say there applies here as well.
Writing Mechanics: I experienced the Alexandra Quick series through Sam Gabriel’s fantastic audiobook adaptation of the series, so I never actually read very much of Deathly Regiment. I can say, however, that from what little I did see, it looked very mechanically sound. I never really have much to say about actual mechanics so long as they don’t actively make the reading experience worse and disrupt the storytelling going on, and they certainly don’t do that here, so….good in my book.
Alexandra Quick and the Audiobook Project: Read by Sam Gabriel: Once again, the audiobook is great. I have nothing new to say that I didn’t already cover in my previous two reviews, but…..Sam is an incredibly talented voice actor, and his audiobooks never cease to make stories more entertaining for me. I highly recommend giving it a listen if audiobooks are your thing, because it will almost certainly make your reading experience even better.
Overall: Alexandra Quick and the Deathly Regiment is yet another absolutely fantastic installment in the series. Although the beginning is a bit slow plot-wise, it makes up for it with its fantastic exploration of Alex’s character, and it really picks up as it goes along. The finale is a heart-pounding, thrilling experience to read, it’s jam-packed with emotionally resonant moments, it has reveals that absolutely blew my fucking mind, and it left me desperately wanting to read more. I really don’t know what more you could look for in a story, and although everything I say is my opinion, I truly don’t understand how you could read this and not thoroughly enjoy it.
Final Thoughts: The Alexandra Quick series continues to elevate fanfiction to a whole other level in Alexandra Quick and the Deathly Regiment. Please, please, please give it a read, you will not regret it. Although you should probably read the books one and two first.
Written on 07/04/2021