Once again, I have to say: I feel lucky for having found a great group of mutually supportive writers via Twitter/Triberr. In this specific case, Barbara Rose (who also writes as Barbara Mack, whose book Chasing the Sunset I reviewed a few months back) has released a new young adult fantasy. She was kind enough to share it with her tribe mates, and I had to fight my natural inclination to gulp down new, intriguing fiction while I met other obligations.
The blurb for this one is a little vague (probably to avoid spoilers), and lets the reader know this will be the first in a new series.
When Allison Mack’s boyfriend and his family are killed in a car wreck, she suspects that her life will never be the same. She knows it for sure when her dead boyfriend comes to visit her on her sixteenth birthday. He warns her to beware of Under Places and then disappears again, only to reappear later. Is she losing her mind, or is something supernatural going on?
Ally finds out something startling about her own family. They are all in terrible danger, and she might be the only one who can save them…
The story captures the young, sweet side of first love–on the other side of a life-changing disaster. The sense of being different, though, is underlined by actual differences from standard human existence.
The story kicks off on her 16th birthday with that unexpected visitation from her dead boyfriend and gets odder from there. In the meantime, her mother is stuck trying to revise her own history by living vicariously through her daughter:
“Oh, you have to have a sixteenth birthday party, Allison,” she told me. “I never got to have one, and I’ve always regretted it.” At the time, it hadn’t seemed very important so I gave in.
Well, she was having her party now. And I was opting out of it, right now.
My eyes burned and my throat ached as I opened my window and threw one leg over the sill. They can wait forever for me to open those presents, I thought as I climbed out the window and down the tree. I hung by my hands from the lowest limb and dropped to the ground.
Her fraught relationship with her mother (and her dead boyfriend) notwithstanding, Ally comes across as a pretty well-adjusted teen, looking forward to getting her driver’s license and figuring out a new course for her life now that she’s seen first-hand how plans can go awry.
Her coping mechanism seems to be her snarky side–and she does spin out some snappy comebacks throughout the book.
The pacing and unique story line hooked me so this ended up being a very fast read, and I could see where fans of PC & Kristin Cast’s House of Night series would also enjoy this book–though it’s significantly lighter fare (as in no evil, murdering goddess inducing significant sexual exploration).
I would recommend this to anyone who enjoys a paranormal cast including ghosts and fairies, and an introduction to a coming-of-age series.