READ THE COMPLETE AND ORIGINAL REVIEW (AND MANY MORE) AT WORD SPELUNKINGK.C Neal’s Pyxis: The Discovery is a captivating book with a superb mix of fantasy, romance, mystery, emotion, and drama.MY BRIEF SUMMARYSixteen year old Corrine’s life quickly changes after the mysterious liquids in a box labeled pyxis, once belonging to her deceased grandmother, have strange effects on her classmates. Things get even odder after Corrine and her friend Mason began to share the shame nightmares and Corrine’s dead grandmother uses these dreams to communicate with her. Corrine, her best friend Angeline, and Mason soon find themselves faced with a destiny they never asked for and two worlds, one they never knew existed, they must protect. STORYPyxis is a quick and gripping read. It pulled me in from page one and I couldn’t put it down until I was finished. Neal offers an original, innovative, and imaginative premise full of intriguing fantasy, engaging characters, and a well-developed storyline.The story moves at a steady pace, never too slow or too fast. There isn’t a great deal of action, nor is too much revealed in this first book, but that doesn’t mean I was ever bored or anything less than intrigued while reading. Much of the book is used simply to introduce the characters and the overall plot, and Neal has set up her series nicely in this first installment.I really loved the fantasy elements and found them refreshing and enthralling. Although too much isn’t revealed about the origin of the Pyxis, the box, and the magical liquids, I found myself completely fascinated by them. And instead of being frustrated by the lack of revelations surrounding these elements, I was simply and eagerly curious about them. Neal has definitely enchanted me with her fantasy.But the book isn’t all fantasy or mystery; there’s a great deal of emotion as well. Relationships-romantic, familial, friendship-play a big role in Pyxis and Neal has created very realistic and dynamic situations where these relationships are involved. I really liked that Corrine’s family wasn’t perfect, yet they weren’t tragically dysfunctional as many families tend to be in YA books, and I loved the fact that Corrine, as a teenager, could totally appreciate this.This first book in the series doesn’t really introduce a definite or solid antagonist, which I found a little disappointing. There is a troublesome and possibly dangerous character, but it’s not made clear whether or not they are the main baddie. I also would have liked a bit more danger or peril for our characters. But the ending is shocking and OMG worthy. The book ends kind of abruptly and I found myself thinking “Oh noes! It can’t just end there!”. But the ending will definitely leave you wanting more. CHARACTERSI really like Neal’s characters. I found them all quite relatable, realistic, and well developed in their own ways. The three main teenage characters, Corrine; Angeline; and Mason, make for a dynamic and engaging group.Corrine really is a very realistic teenage character. Personality wise, she’s not overly spectacular or terribly boring, nor would I want her to be. She’s stereotypical enough to be familiar and comfortable, yet unique enough to be interesting. She has a believable mix of confidence and insecurities, wit and awkwardness, being likable and being frustrating. Her reactions to the situations Neal puts her in never feel forced, farfetched or unnatural. I really and genuinely like this character.Angeline’s character works well in this book has a BFF/sidekick character, but I like that she isn’t the type of sidekick who lets the main character, Corrine, walk all over her. She’s not afraid to voice her opinion or tell Corrine how it is. I like her feistiness and her loyalty. I think there’s a lot more to this girl than we get to see in this book and I think she has the potential to be a real fun, layered character.Mason is an easy character to like and maybe even fall for. He isn’t really the rough around the edges kind of male character; he’s a bit more sensitive and thoughtful, which I really liked. Trying not to give too much away here, but this is a character that we, as readers, need to believe is protective, intuitive, and a genuinely good guy and he definitely came across as such.The secondary characters are all really great as well. The mean, popular girls are fun to hate and the myriad of high school characters are all realistic. ROMANCEThe main romantic relationship is between Corrine and Mason and I found this relationship to be surprisingly refreshing. These two characters have known each other practically their whole lives, so this is definitely not one of those ever popular YA insta-loves…and thank goodness for that! Their attraction and feelings for one another actually come from a natural, believable place and never feel too quick or forced. But that doesn’t mean that this relationship is anything but simple! There are plenty of complications and obstacles, making this a fun romance to watch unfold.MY FINAL THOUGHTS: Pyxis is a fun, enchanting first book in what is sure to be a phenomenal new series. I’m hooked and can’t wait to read more of the series.This is one book you really should read!