Book Reviews

Tarja Titan: A Terrian Chronicles Novel

Avatar: The Last Airbender Meets World of the Gateway Abused and neglected for nearly a decade, Tarja Titan always longed for a home… …But she didn’t anticipate the reception she’d receive upon her return to a world she thought only existed in fiction For starters, everyone in Elemental Society knows her name. Even if she has no recollection as to why. For another, she’s going to a university to hone a rare supernatural ability, or abilities, she’s never heard of. Everywhere Tarja goes and everyone she speaks to, new secrets emerge. Like the fact she was murdered as a child and somehow here she is, as alive and well as her new classmates. And this school has more secrets than Tarja could imagine. It has hidden rooms, corridors, and yeah, resident spirits love hanging out here. And they’re not shy about sharing a few stories. Even if her newly-discovered godbrother is. Calling all fans of E.E. Holmes’ World of the Gateway and Carissa Andrews’ The Windhaven Witches. If you like strong heroines, elemental magic, complex plots, and young adult fiction, or better yet YA+, given the more mature subject matter, you will fall in love with Tarja Titan.

You can never be sure what to expect from TC Marti’s Elementals Universe. This is not a bad thing at all, with his interconnected series ranging from heavy action adventure tales (like the Elementals of Nordica books Wind Wielder, Wind Master and Wind Keeper) to intimate thrillers like Civil War: Chronicles of Rondure (see those links? Click them to read my reviews for all those books!). In his author notes at the end of Tarja Titan (simply referred to as Tarja Titan henceforth), Marti cites the Marvel Cinematic Universe as inspiration for a universe of interconnected stories where you don’t need to watch them all to enjoy the movies. One difference I note, however, is that Marti brings more variety to his stories.

Unlike the aforementioned novels, Tarja Titan takes place on Earth, with Elementals existing here. This story broadly fits within the young adult genre (or YA); however, it is worth noting that it touches on themes of abuse, and without spoiling anything, the powers used in this book, particularly by the book’s protagonist, Tarja Titan, are rooted in dark origins. Abuse and dark powers aside, Tarja Titan owes a debt to the Harry Potter series, something the book makes a healthy number of references to.

Like that boy wizard, Tarja lives a difficult life before receiving a letter inviting her to a school for powered individuals (here, those individuals are Elementals, wielder of elemental powers). Upon learning that she has more of this world’s money than she could imagine, Tarja starts at the school and learns she is a celebrity thanks to her mysterious past. As familiar territory as this is, Marti crafts an engaging world that reels the reader in. Celestial University is its own distinct location, however, and lacks Hogwarts’ majesty, for which the story is better for it.

As entertaining as this world this, the ties to Earth didn’t work as well for me as the rest of the book. Tarja’s backstory (before certain revelations come into play) is gritty, and the efforts to seep this into realism didn’t quite gel as much as the fantastical elements. I appreciated Marti’s efforts to link real-world issues into Tarja Titan, and it was nice to see the  COVID-19 pandemic referenced. I would have preferred it if the book didn’t build a conspiracy around this, though that likely comes down to personal preference and the subject matter still being all too real, with it still causing deaths.

As Tarja Titan enters its second act, my issues were all but forgotten. As the revelation about Tarja’s backstory comes into play, the book moves at a wonderful pace, moving quickly while giving the plot and its characters the necessary space to breathe. Throughout, the book is filled with entertaining moment after entertaining moment. I am a fan of Marti’s writing, and at various points throughout, this was among his most entertaining work.

At 235 pages in paperback (and an estimated 253 swipes on Kindle), Tarja Titan is not a long read, and is one of the shorter books in the Elementals Universe. Its length is entirely appropriate for Marti’s story, with it taking the time to build its mysteries and pay them off, providing some great characters and casting an intriguing plot. Despite its length, it fits a lot in, and it is a true testament to the author’s skill that this doesn’t feel rushed at any point.

Tarja Titan’s cast of characters are all wonderful characters who feel fully formed in their own right. Each one is distinct with their own unique voice, and each character is a delight to read, whether they are a hero, a foil, a villain, or somewhere in between. For the dialogue is among the strongest that Marti has written, though, as with my thoughts about the real world setting, the dialogue in that setting didn’t ring quite as true to me.

At the beginning of the review, I mentioned that the Elementals Universe are interconnected without needing the reader to read all of them. This is especially true of Tarja Titan, which, while continuing to focus on Elementals, stands perfectly alone. Where Civil War provided direct linkages to the Elementals of Nordica series, the ties here are looser. This book stands well enough alone that new readers will be able to follow along with this world perfectly, without raising any questions. Impressively, Marti has accomplished this in a way that the revelations about this universe don’t feel like they’re rehashing old ground, boring the reader with exposition they’re already fully aware of.

If you’re a fan of the broad concept behind Harry Potter or YA books, I heartily recommend Tarja Titan. If you’re a fan of the Elementals Universe, again, I recommend this, even if you’re not a huge fan of the genre. Despite my reservations about the real world content, this is a thoroughly entertaining read that will please both veterans of this universe, and those looking at it for the very first time.

Favourite Passage

Netta! How many times do I need to tell you that I’m on the clock every day from nine to seven? I told you I don’t take breaks because I’m the only teacher here who actually gives a rat’s petunia about…” The chipped door swung open and an irate-looking man with thick glasses, a poorly-trimmed moustache, and graying, Cosmo Kramer-like hair stared back. “Who are you?

Tarja Titan: A Terrian Chronicles Novel, Chapter Ten: “Professor Saturn”

Tarja Titan: A Terrian Chronicles Novel was provided by the author for the purpose of an honest review.

Tarja Titan is available in paperback and on Kindle, exclusive to Amazon).

You can follow TC Marti online, via:

Note: I do not post scores on reviews on this website, but do post them on my Amazon and Goodreads reviews:

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Tarja Titan: A Terrian Chronicles Novel (The Terrian Chronicles Book 1)

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