Wednesday, 5 January 2011
Review: My Soul To Take by Rachel Vincent
Sixteen year old Kaylee has a secret. When she's near to someone who is about to die, she knows it - and she can barely contain the earsplitting scream that instinctively rises up in her throat. And once she starts screaming... she can't stop. The first time it happened, she was labelled crazy and prescribed drugs to eradicate her so-called panic attacks. But this time is different. In a crowded club, she spots a girl that has that darkness about her. By the next morning, the girl is dead. And only schoolmate Nash seems to be able to help her work out what exactly is going on.
Faster paced than your average YA paranormal, My Soul To Take is served up with an extra large helping of mystery. Kaylee's macabre gift makes it impossible for her ignore the similarities between the recent deaths of several local girls, and the swoonworthy Nash just so happens to have Reaper connections that might help them get the answers they're looking for. Because of course, there's romance here too. The spark between everygirl Kaylee and girl-magnet Nash tends towards the type of intense chemistry you'll find between the leads in adult paranormal romance novels, and while it's a familiar enough dynamic the context of bean sidhe lore breathes just enough new life into proceedings to keep things very interesting.
Since YA novels about banshees are few and far between, Rachel Vincent is exploring some new ground here in putting an urban spin on this eerie old legend. Where some paranormal novels seem to be struggling to reinvent the wheel, this one introduces us to a relatively unknown species with worldbuilding that's satisfyingly complex without ever seeming overworked. While the book never gets quite as dark as its subject matter might suggest it could, the intricacies of bean sidhe life are instead portrayed with a touch of welcome wry humour. And though the notion of an entire species whose females are inherently hysterical could make for some dubious gender stereotyping, in fact there's a lot more to Rachel Vincent's banshees than screaming. As a human teenager Kaylee is a fairly ordinary character, but her not-so-human characteristics cast her apparent tendency to freak out in a whole new light that makes for fascinating reading.
My Soul To Take is a promising first instalment in the Soul Screamers series. Rachel Vincent has taken some of the best loved elements of the YA paranormal genre and given them a quirky and unusual twist. The result? Compulsively readable.
Out: 1st January 2011, UK
Thanks to Mira Ink for providing a review copy of this book.