Monday, May 18, 2009

Review – “My Soul To Take” by Rachel Vincent

FROM THE BOOKCOVER:
Something is wrong with Kaylee Cavanaugh. She doesn't see dead people, but...

She senses when someone near her is about to die. And when that happens, a force beyond her control compels her to scream bloody murder. Literally.

Kaylee just wants to be a normal girl, basking in the joy of having caught the attention of Nash, the hottest guy in school. But getting through a first date isn't easy when he seems to know more about Kaylee's need to scream than she does. And when classmates start dropping dead for no apparent reason, only she knows who'll be next...
My Soul To Take is the first book in a new YA series from veteran urban fantasy writer Rachel Vincent. It is also the featured title for the launch of the new Harlequin Teen imprint along with Gena Showalter’s Intertwined. And it is a great choice to launch the line because My Soul To Take grabs you from the very beginning and doesn’t let go until the closing chapter.

Told in the first person, Kaylee is on the surface a normal teenage girl, but she has a secret. In fact just about everyone in this book has a secret. Kaylee has been raised by her Aunt and Uncle, her mother long dead and her father absent from her life and living abroad. She also constantly clashes with her slightly younger and ultra popular cousin Sophie. Kaylee sneaks out to a dance club with her closest girlfriend Emma. At the club she is approached by Nash, a star athlete and hottie that has never said more than a few words to her in the past, a boy with a skirt-chasing reputation. They dance, but then Kaylee begins to experience what she has been led to believe is a kind of panic attack, a screaming fit that previously resulted in her being briefly institutionalized by her Uncle. The attack is triggered when she observes another young woman on the dance floor -
My heart beat harder with every step she took. My hand curled around my glass until my knuckles went white. And that familiar sense of melancholy swelled into an overwhelming feeling of grief. Of dark foreboding.
I gasped, startled by a sudden, gruesome certainty.
Not again. Not with Nash Hudson there to watch me completely freak out. My breakdown would be all over the school on Monday, and I could kiss goodbye what little social standing I'd gained.
However, Nash’s reaction surprises her and in fact he takes her outside and the club and manages to calm and soothe her reaction. She returns home and even agrees to see Nash again despite reservations that he likely has ulterior motives. But the biggest surprise is the next day when she learns on the news that the young woman she saw is dead of no apparent cause. And she believes that her panic was her way of knowing the girl was going to die. She calls Nash and he believes her. Another girl dies elsewhere under similar unexplained circumstances and then the hammer falls when a third girl dies at school and Kaylee again experiences the knowing in advance. Nash is there to help her through it.

Obviously aware of many things she is not, Nash explains to Kaylee that she isn’t fully human and neither is he, that they are both banshees -
"I'm a bean sidhe?" Two tears fell before I could banish them, and I wiped the rest away with my sleeve. Nash nodded solemnly, and I repeated it, just to get used to the idea. "I'm a bean sidhe.”
He explains her ability to sing to the souls of the dead and his ability to direct them. She also learns of the reapers who come for the souls. They both believe that the three girls’ deaths are not normal, that something more sinister is at work. Nash enlists the aid of a reaper he knows to find out if the girls’ names were on ‘the list’ to be collected.

My Soul To Take is a terrific mystery on many levels from the central story arc of who is killing the young women to more personal concerns such as what do her Aunt, Uncle and father know about her abilities? What about her mother? It is also a voyage of self-discovery for Kaylee as she learns about her nature and the secret world she is now a part of. Nash is honest and open and does his best to give her the answers she seeks. Their chemistry and bond is built slowly, patiently and believably. These are fresh teen characters, no clichés, no super powers - just a young couple with a driving need to help as best they can and do the right thing. In fact the decisions made by the teens often lead to better outcomes then the choices made by the adults.

Aside from the death’s, My Soul To Take is refreshingly free of physical violence. The battles fought here are mostly metaphysical but the threat of dying at any time is real and sustains a tremendous level of tension and drama. Friends and family are placed in jeopardy and beyond and several key scenes are heart-stopping.

My Soul To Take is yet another fine young adult novel with tremendous appeal, intelligence, engaging characters and a good premise a little off the beaten path. I think readers of all ages will enjoy this series. My Soul To Take releases August 1, 2009. Rachel Vincent will be guest posting here on July 29 to tell us more about the book and the series. She will also be visiting on July 1 to talk about her next Shifters book Prey. Be sure to join us then.

Harlequin Teen
Published: August 01, 2009
ISBN #: 9780373210039
Format: Trade Paperback
Age Range: Young Adult
Pages: 282

Read an excerpt of Chapter 1.

Soul Screamers YA Series:

  1. My Soul to Take (August 1, 2009)
  2. My Soul To Save (2010)
  3. My Soul To Keep (2010)

Shifters Series:

  1. Stray (2007)
  2. Rogue (2008)
  3. Pride (2009)
  4. Prey (July 1, 2009)
  5. Shift (March 2010)
  6. Untitled (Fall 2010)

8 comments:

  1. Hi Doug!

    I'm really looking forward to My Soul To Take, is looks excellent. I can hardly wait to get it when it's release. Thanks for the great review and whetting my appetite for a new YA read. I'll be back to see Rachel Vincent's interview, it should be great.

    Dottie :)

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  2. I am on a YA rush at the moment, this book looks really good! Thanks for bringing my attention to it.

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  3. Great review! It makes me want to read it even more.

    ~ Popin

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  4. Oh, I'm so glad (and relieved!) that you liked it! ;-)

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  5. I think this book and series has a great future Dottie. I look forward to your thoughts when you get to read it.

    You're welcome Ana. UF writers are doing such great things with YA lately. I'm loving it.

    Thanks Popin!

    Hi Rachel I don't think you have anything at all to worry about. It's going to do really well. Although I didn't mention it in the review, I thought the last line in the book was terrific and promised some great things to come.

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  6. Fantastic review! This book sounds like a good read, I don't remember ever reading a book based around banshees. I'm looking forward to it. Love the cover!

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  7. Thank you so much for the early review! And even better that you loved the book. We're all proud of Rachel and the Soul Screamers series. Wonderful to see MSTT here.
    --Natashya Wilson, sr. editor, Harlequin TEEN

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  8. Fantasy Dreamer I think this has got to be a first with a Banshee as the central character.

    Thanks Tashya, it was an easy book to like. Rachel has a winner with this series and characters.

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