What I Read in May: Fated by Alyson Noel, Winter's Shadow & Winter's Light by M.J. Hearle

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Fated by Alyson Noel
Strange things are happening to Daire Santos. Crows mock her, glowing people stalk her, time stops without warning, and a beautiful boy with unearthly blue eyes haunts all her dreams. Fearing for her daughter's sanity, Daire's mother sends her to live with the grandmother she's never met, but who recognizes the visions for what they truly are—the call to her destiny as a Soul Seeker—one who can navigate the worlds between the living and dead. 
There on the dusty plains of Enchantment, New Mexico, Daire sets out to harness the powers of her ancestral legacy, but it's when she meets Dace, the boy from her dreams, when things take an alarming turn. Forcing Daire to discover if Dace is the one guy she's meant to be with...or if he's allied with the enemy she's destined to destroy. 

I got on Google Maps, and I am fairly sure Enchantment, New Mexico is not actually real place. Thank goodness. Bad stuff happens there.

I enjoyed Fated, but there is so much information imparted, and so much to establish in this first book of the series, that I think the plot suffers slightly - I am certainly expecting more action in subsequent books with the sheer amount of background delivered in this novel. It's obviously been thought out and researched (as researched as a book about magical powers can be) in extraordinary detail, and if you are the sort of reader who wants to become invested in the world of a series and know all of these details, it's well worth picking up.

The book does require a lot of suspension of disbelief - there are twin characters that are the personification of good and evil, after all, which some readers might take issue with. But I think it's fun and out-there, and while I enjoyed the first book, I am especially intrigued to read the sequels because there are so many elements that can be explored further, this book felt almost introductory. Portals! Reanimated corpses! Different worlds adjacent to this one where fearsome creatures roam! The myriad abilities Daire has, including being able to effectively possess animals!

It certainly isn't disappointing in the inventiveness department, though some characterisations are a little incredible (when Daire's mother reappears she is just ridiculous, and has apparently forgotten about Daire's prior illness, and the twins are introduced flippantly considering their importance to the story). I do like that the love interest is not evil or likely to murder the protagonist. Lots of exciting stuff and awesome directions the series can go in!

Winter's Shadow by M.J. Hearle
Blake Duchamp…He’s all that Winter Adams can think of. Ever since their fateful meeting at Pilgrim’s Lament. Ever since he looked at her with those emerald eyes. Ever since he saved her life.

But Blake isn’t all that he seems. There is a strangeness about him, something dark and otherworldly. Something dangerous. He is her only protection against the gathering darkness. The only problem is, to protect Winter, Blake must risk exposing her to an even greater danger.


Winter's Light by M.J. Hearle
Blake is gone. He sacrificed himself to save Winter, leaving her alone, unprotected…hunted. 

An ancient enemy is rising, but Winter is no longer the innocent girl who was fated to die at Pilgrim’s Lament. She will not wait to be saved. She will do what she must to survive, even accept an unsavoury alliance with those who destroyed her love. In the gathering darkness, the enemy of an enemy is not always a friend, and Winter must find the strength to stand alone and fight for the one she loves. For she is the key to unlocking the secrets beyond the veil of shadows.

And she is Blake’s only hope.

So I was excited to read this new series for a couple of reasons: 1) the author is a Sydneysider! I do get very excited about new Australian YA writers. 2) Promotional materials promised no sparkly vampires or werewolves!

In both novels, a second narrative occurs in a few chapters throughout - in the first it's Blake's mother's story, and in the second it's a character 2000 years in the past who is linked to both central characters. There's a lot of thought that's been put into world-building. I really enjoyed these back stories, and I would love to have read more of them (so many opportunities for other books set in the same world!).

I think it's important to state that my preferences in YA paranormal romances seem to differ quite a bit from those of most readers who are fans of the genre. I am always more interested in the paranormal part than I am the romance part. The parts that involved travelling to a different reality - an incredibly creepy and alien one - were probably my favourite (how could they not be?), and there is a definite promise of the third book being more heavily involved in this other universe. Also, the incredibly ominous Skivers? I liked them, too.

Though I felt the beginning a little clunky, the story picks up and the ending of Winter's Shadow was fantastic. Winter's Light is my favourite of the series (so far!), mainly because the plotline is not centred around the burgeoning romance but rather Winter's growth as a character and her involvement in a larger war that is occurring. While I expected the twist in Winter's Shadow, in Winter's Light there was a twist that I did not see coming. The events of Winter's Light are on a much larger scale than the first book.

I think if you're a YA paranormal romance fan, this is well worth picking up, and I found the second book especially enjoyable - creepy and dark with an epic ending. I can promise no sparkly vampires, but there are some vampire-reminiscent creatures. There's a lot of familiarity about the series - the setting, romance and protagonist all fit very well within the genre - but it offers some interesting plot twists later on, and I've high expectations for the third book in the series. (More sinister paranormal beasties, I hope.)
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