- Reading level: Young Adult
- Paperback: 384 pages
- Publisher: Harlequin Teen; Original edition (August 1, 2009)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0373210035
- ISBN-13: 978-0373210039
- genre Paranormal romance
Kaylee Cavanaugh lives with her aunt, uncle and a younger cousin Sophie. All in all she seems to be a pretty ordinary junior student although in her past a tragedy occurred – her mother died in an accident when she was three and her father hasn’t been interested in her life very much ever since. One day she and her best friend Emma sneak into a club to have some fun. While they are dancing and picking up guys, Kaylee sees a dark shadow surrounding one of the girls. She has a death premonition about that girl and wants to scream very badly. She doesn’t fall to pieces only because a handsome boy called Nash Hudson helps her. Nash is a popular athlete from Kaylee’s school, and his behaviour was really sweet and understanding – he held her hand and sang quietly until she no longer felt the need to scream her head off. He’s so accepting of her unusual behavior that it makes her wonder if he has ulterior motives in getting close to her (like meeting her super-hot cheerleading cousin again).
Next day Kaylee finds out on the news that the girl she noticed in the club died and nobody knows why. That girl becomes the first of several teenage girls in the area to drop dead just like that, for no identifiable reason. Kaylee knows her screams have some connection to these deaths. Soon enough it also becomes clear that Nash knows much more than he’s saying; apart from that she finds that her foster family is keeping a truckload of secrets from her. Kaylee thinks she’s losing her mind or has a brain cancer but the truth is quite different – she’s not a human but a bean sidhe, or banshee. She has a lot to learn. Will she learn quickly enough to prevent other deaths? Will Nash be still willing to help her? Will her aunt and uncle reveal some family secrets? Or maybe they will send her to a mental health specialist again?
I grant you – a YA paranormal novel with banshees and other mysterious Netherworld creatures instead of vampires and werewolves is really something original. Such a new rendering of a very neglected corner of Celtic folklore I found very original and refreshing.
Side characters like Kaylee’s Uncle Brendon, his health-obsessed wife and stuck-up social butterfly of a cousin are well-rounded and believable. However the real star is Todd – he speaks with a voice of his own and you do want to know more about him and his unusual profession (he is a reaper; in fact one of Grim Reapers). I only hope he will be given more space in next installments – he clearly deserves that.
Finally the authoress has a noticeably different style of writing – rather simple but compelling. I read this book in one day and it was done without breaking a sweat. The plot unfolded at a nice pace, just enough to keep you hooked and there were no tiresome repetitions of words or phrases just to show we are dealing with teenagers (at least I didn’t register anything very annoying).
I don’t understand how teens in this kind of books can fall so deep in love in a few hours and be sure they are made for each other and they must stay together no matter what. Kaylee and Nash’s relationship was a bit skewed – she becomes clingy and needy so quickly and is always looking to him before she speaks. She even asks permission to speak on several occasions. Perhaps it is the whole bean sidhe thing.
By the way there are male and female bean sidhes in this book and the division of their roles got to me a bit. Female bean sidhes are uncontrollable, almost hysterical screamers who can keep a soul stuck for a while in the same place and say goodbye; male bean sidhes have Influence (it’s capitalized like that), which they use to calm the aforementioned hysterical females. And only males can direct the souls of deceased to a chosen place. Hmmm…Of course both male and female bean sidhes are the best when they work in a well-orchestrated tandem but still isn’t it a tiny bit sexist? I mean I would like the females being given more control over their gift.
The whole predestination theory with departed souls, planned deaths and living on borrowed time didn’t manage to persuade me. No way. Especially that it was clearly shown that even a reaper can cheat and be cheated. Where’s the logic in it? I also didn’t buy the final explanation of those mysterious deaths of young girls – it was unexpected, that’s true, but after a moment or two just unbelievable.
Not too bad, taking into account the fact that it is definitely not my favourite genre – a light, enjoyable read but in need of a gender role overhaul and maybe a better baddie. I heard the second part gets better so I might be tempted if I have time.