Review of Ascendant by Rebecca Taylor



When I was twelve, my mother disappeared. I was the first person to never find her.

I’m sixteen now and she has never been found, alive or dead. I’m not the girl I should have been.

When Charlotte Stevens, bright but failing, is sent to stay at her mother’s childhood home in Somerset England her life is changed forever. While exploring the lavish family manor, Gaersum Aern, Charlotte discovers a stone puzzle box that contains apentagram necklace and a note from her mother-clues to her family’s strange past and her mother’s disappearance. Charlotte must try to solve the puzzle box, decipher her mother’s old journals, and figure out who is working to derail her efforts-and why. The family manor contains many secrets and hidden histories, keys to the elegant mystery Charlotte called mom and hopefully, a trail to finding her.


I have to be honest, when I was handed this book (figuratively, of course, because it was recommended by a friend of mine), I was a little skeptical. I love YA, of course, but I tend to gravitate towards the kinds of books where magic and mythology–and dystopia–are involved. Some of my favorite books are Harry Potter, Percy Jackson, and The Hunger Games. So I went in a bit jaded; how could I possibly even fathom liking a book revolving around just a mystery? But Amanda was certain I’d love it, so I ordered it and contacted Ms. Taylor to set up an interview.

Let me tell you something, this was the best leap of faith I’ve done in a long time.

Ascendant promises a mystery and suspense, and it delivers in droves. With each layer that’s peeled back, more questions arise, but not in a manner that could be considered frustrating. The pacing is perfect (with the exception of a few places where it seemed to stall), the characters are wonderfully 3D and flawed, and the story itself, the mystery itself is intriguing enough that the answers won’t leave you disappointed.

What’s more is that Ms. Taylor hands us a female protagonist on a silver platter who’s smart, intelligent, independent, and capable. Sure, Charlotte has her flaws, but the only serves to create a well-rounded character. We’re able to experience this world and this story through the lens of a female protagonist whose life isn’t revolving around romance. In a society where the main belief is that girls only care about love and marriage, it’s great to have more options for young girls to inspire independence and self-worth. Charlotte, despite the trouble she gets into in the beginning, is a positive role model to be held up there with Hermione Granger, Annabeth Chase, and Katniss Everdeen.


  • Charlotte. She’s a stand-alone pro because there’s so much about her that makes her amazing. She can simultaneously infuriate and inspire you, and is the best thing about Ascendant.
  • The setting. It’s fantastic. Lush mansions, castle-like rooms, expansive libraries. It’s a playground for those of us with imagination, and it is utilized perfectly in the story.
  • The mystery. I won’t give anything away, but trust me when I say you won’t be disappointed.


  • The editing. It’s forgivable because Ascendant is independently published, which means, I’m assuming, the editing resources of giants like Scholastic aren’t at their fingertips, but there are a couple of times where the typos or errors are jarring enough to pull you out of the story.
  • Like I said earlier, there is a spot or two where the pacing stalls.

All in all, Ascendant is a must-read for mystery lovers and YA lovers alike. I recommend picking up a copy today! And while you’re at it, go read my interview with Rebecca Taylor herself, or ask her questions of your own! Her contact information is at the bottom of the interview article.


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