Dorchester, June 2010
Some people will do anything to avoid it. Even trade their immortal souls for endless existence.
Secretly, inexorably, they are infiltrating our world, sucking the essence out of unsuspecting victims with their hideous parody of a kiss.
Adam Thorne founded the Institute to study and destroy his monster of a brother, but the key to its success is held in the pale, slender hand of a woman on the run. There is something hauntingly different about Talia O’Brien, her unknowing sensuality, her uncanny way of slipping into Shadow.
This is the place between life and what comes after - a dark forest of fantasy, filled with beauty, peril, mystery. And Talia is about to open the door.
The book starts out reminiscent of Meet Joe Black or Death Takes a Holiday. The wraiths have shades of Sherrilyn Kenyon’s daimons, stealing human souls to survive. And then there’s homage to Sleeping Beauty. But Kellison takes each of those and makes them her own, weaving a darkly beautiful story.
For those of you who read my previous blog on what makes a keeper for me (see here under the Con section), let me just say the laundry hampers are overflowing, we’re out of peanut butter and jelly, and there’s a suspicious stain on the rug by the back door (just kidding – I did let the dogs outside to pee).
- Adam is not the perfect hero by any means. He’s flawed, deeply so, sometimes to the point of bordering on psychotic in his single-minded determination to kill his wraith brother and rid the world of wraiths. He doesn’t try to hide the fact that he’s using Talia for his own purposes, and this hurts her.
- Talia, on the other hand, starts out weak. She knows she’s different but doesn’t understand how or why. When things get too much, she turns in on herself, pulling herself into the comfort and safety of her shadows. But like the Sleeping Beauty she’s likened to, she eventually awakens, discovers who and what she is and, with Adam’s help, becomes what she was born to be.
- As I said, both characters are flawed in the beginning and it takes almost the whole book for them to work out their issues, both within themselves and with each other. I didn’t feel the chemistry or attraction between them – at first. But the story builds and as each draws strength and awareness from the other, so does their love. It’s a natural progression and by the time Adam tells Talia he loves her, we believe it.
*spoiler alert ahead*
In the end, it’s revealed that there is some kind of treaty between the government and the wraith population. What the heck was that all about? It doesn’t make sense and is never fully explained. I mean, why would the government give up so easily? These things must feed on human souls or go mad (they can’t be killed – only Death can take them out). How can any government condone something like that? At the time, there were only about 10,000 wraiths in the US. That doesn’t seem like enough to warrant the entire US government admitting defeat and letting them have their way. What, they were going to turn a blind eye to that little problem and expect the entire nation to go along with it? What was the government going to do, let the wraiths feed on death row inmates and the terminally ill? That twist didn’t work for me.
The ‘IT’ Factor:
Plot hole aside, this author takes what’s been done before and blends it in a way that it makes it new and fresh. And it’s the way she did it, using vivid description and sensory detail, which I believe sold this book. The author paints with her words, pulling the reader into the scene not as a sideline observer, but as a participant. This book was extremely well done, reading like a it was written by a seasoned pro and not a newbie author. I can't wait to read more from this talented writer.