*I was provided an advanced reading copy of this novel in exchange for an honest review.
Avah Taylor is a young witch, born with the power of Spirit, trained as a warrior, and chosen as the one witch in her generation to be gifted with The Power, which prophecy says will be the key to ending the fighting between witches and vampires. Although most witches to receive The Power die young, Avah has vowed to end the centuries old war.
Destiny, however, has other plans.
On the night Avah is to receive The Power, her coven is attacked by vampires. Injured in the fighting and left for dead, Avah finds herself rescued—and turned—by a vampire unlike any she has seen before. Disowned by her coven and her family for being a vampire, Avah is forced to join her maker and the group of vampires he is a part of.
The majority of the book is spent with the reader watching as Avah is torn between the “facts” she was raised to believe in and the realities that are unfolding in front of her. As she struggles between the old life and the new, Avah must decide who she is, what defines a family, and where her loyalties lie.
This book certainly had both strengths and weaknesses, but when it comes right down to it, I gave it it’s rating based on the following things:
- Once I began reading it, I didn’t want to stop until I had reached the end.
- My breathing, my heart rate, and—most importantly—my emotions were all impacted by the story of Avah, Jasik, and the vampires under Jasik’s protection.
- The book was always moving forward, even when there were down beats.
- When I finished the book, I was already counting the days until December when the next book in the series will come out.
The Nitty Gritty:
Although this is Ms. Rose’s Debut novel, there is no doubt that she knows her craft. She writes with a fast-paced intensity that is liberally sprinkled with beautiful poetry and sharp commentary on life and the human condition.
The world she writes in is both fantastically foreign and comfortingly normal, and obviously thoroughly thought through. While the majority of the world the reader sees is full of magic and war and life-or-death choices, not to mention witches and vampires, there are fabulous intrusions of our every day world. Descriptions are detailed and precise, but never weigh down the foreword momentum of the story. Yes, this is happening in a world that we will never know, but that world just happens to be just out of reach of our own, hiding in the shadows and forest clearings and middle-of-nowhere, fringe communities. If we could only look in just the right spot, at just the right moment, we would see that it is real, has always been real, and was merely waiting for us to pay attention. Thankfully, Ms. Rose is here to lend us her vision.
Although there are ten (by my count) characters important for the reader to recognize, they are all distinct from one another, with looks, attitudes, and ways of speaking that are unique to each character. I never had a problem following who was speaking or why they were acting the way they did.
That being said, character RELATIONSHIPS are one of the areas that fell short for me. Any relationships that Avah had with another vampire–Jasik, Amicia, for example, or even the vampire community as a whole–felt rushed. There seemed to be distinct phases, such as enemy/distrust and neutral, but no gradual shifting or active working on improving the relationship. Avah went from hating vampires, to hoping they wouldn’t hate her, to everybody liking everybody (more or less). This detracted some from the believability of the relationships. My experience is that, aside from very young kids, friendships and trust take a very, very long time to develop.
There is a caveat to this complaint, however! While re-examining the book, I realized that there were some moments that had initially felt like inconsistencies in the time line, but which were actually, I think, jumps in the timeline. If this is indeed the case, the confusion in how quickly things happen and the dissatisfaction in how fast relationships develop, could be fixed with a simple transition paragraph every time a jump occurs, or even a simple “time stamp” at the start of each chapter or scene.
Special Parenting Concerns:
Sex Scenes: This book is classified as a romance; there is a love interest for twenty-four-year-old Avah and there are several scenes of various levels of intimacy. They are all tasteful and most of them feature no more than intense kissing or strong feelings of attraction. There is one scene where they are in bed together, feeding off of each other, which is very sexual but includes no genital penetration, and one scene with actual penetration (and no “fade to black”). Keep this in mind if you don’t want your teenager to be reading such things or, keep it in mind as an area to discuss as a possible teachable moment if you are comfortable enough to have such discussions with your young adult or new adult children.
Violence: This book’s plot centers around a way between witches and vampires. There are vampires of varying degrees of violence. Fighting, blood, and death occur more than once in this book. However, there is never violence just for violence’s sake, nor is there a great deal of detail put into the gore. Keep in mind that Avah, the main character, is turned into a vampire very early on and blood becomes her source of food. There are some great, detailed descriptions of what she goes through in facing the thought of drinking blood, as well as her first and subsequent encounters drinking blood. The coven she belongs to does not hunt for their blood, though. Instead, they get their blood from willing donors via blood bag.
Language: No (or very, very little) swearing.
Book Club Chatter:
This book can open the door for a variety of discussions between parents and their high school and older children (or your book club!):
- A discussion of where identity comes from—the genes you are born with, the family you are raised by, or the choices you make?
- How do things we “know” to be true impact our choices and relationships? How could we—and should we—look for ways to challenge these “facts”?
- What makes a family?
- What makes a person, organization, or idea worth our loyalty?
You Will Like This If…:
- You like Twilight, Chosen, or Blue Bloods
- Authors such as Marjorie Liu and Sherrilyn Kenyon
- Books that blend more than one genre: this is a paranormal action romance, blending vampires AND witches, action AND romance.
- As a New Adult novel, this book could appeal to those who love Young Adult, New Adult, and traditional Paranormal Romances
You may be wondering why I would give this book five stars when I had several things that I did not like or wished were done differently. And I will admit, I was torn between a four and five star rating. However, what a five star rating boils down to for me is not a “perfectly written” book, but a book that provides me the perfect reading experience. If I select a book and it is well-written, fun, and I don’t want to put it down; if it is a book that I can sink into and forget the real world is around me rather than between the pages I hold in my hands…well, -that- is a five star experience to me, and -that- is most definitely what I received with this book.
*this book review is also posted on Goodreads and here on Modern Momology
My other reviews of Ms. Rose’s work:
Daemon Academy (Short Story)