“The Urban Boys” follows five friends in high school who, after one night in a preserve their families have forbidden them from going into, are gifted with heightened senses in order to protect a luminous supernatural race, and by proxy, all of mankind. But for such high stakes, the boys thankfully can save mankind by simply protecting their idyllic town from the evil-doers that have taken over a neighboring town. Stuck in a conflict that has been simmering for twenty years, it’s up to these five friends to keep strong, and save their town when no one else is capable of doing so. This is a story that attempts to cover a lot, especially with such a large cast of characters, and it’s a book I think is far better suited for middle-grade book lovers. If you go into it with that mindset, I think you’ll enjoy the “Urban Boys” a great deal.
I am not an “experienced” horror reader. I read a lot of true crime and violent thrillers, but when it comes to books that are traditionally classified as “horror”, well, then I believe “The Only Good Indians” is my first foray into that. And the jury is still out on if I like this genre, but I don’t think that’s the book’s fault? “The Only Good Indians” follows four young men after an upsetting event of their childhood comes back to haunt them (literally) on the ten-year anniversary of the event. Mixed in with the horror of being hunted by a force you don’t see coming, the author weaves in a seamless social commentary on what it’s like for American Indians both on and off the reservation. I really enjoyed those aspects, even though I can’t speak to the cultural representation. I thought they added a unique level to an already disturbing story. But I did have a hard time getting through this book, and not because I was too upset to read it, either.
“A Dark Infection” is the sequel to “A Dark Inheritance” in which ten years have passed since Tina was taken by the vampire, Kalmar. Slowly, she is being turned into a vampire herself, as the properties in her blood allow for her to accept the virus that is being introduced to her bloodstream through Kalmar. And, just like its predecessor, this book does not shy away from the fact that much of Tina’s current situation was, and is, not one of her choosing. So few with her blood type remain that she is coveted by vampires in order to ensure the survival of their species, but, and more importantly, she is vital to Kalmar. While Tina still struggles with the idea that perhaps her feelings for her vampire abductor, even ten years later, are not real and just a form of Stockholm Syndrome (which is valid), Kalmar has bonded to her, and wishes to remain that way. Despite stronger forces wishing to claim him as their own, and giving Tina away to another vampire in the process, Kalmar wants no other. While the vampire world of danger and intrigue continue to sweep Tina up in its wake, the world Tina was forced to leave behind also comes back to haunt her, weaving into a new mystery that threatens to destroy both of the worlds Tina inhabits. Except Tina, once again, doesn’t seem to be given a choice about which world she gets to save.
I have never read a YA fantasy novelette quite like “Spellraiser” and I mean that in the best way possible. It’s a familiar storyline: a rich prep school where those of lesser means are constantly bullied and looked down upon, except that there is a magical mystery underfoot. In the world of “Spellraiser” magic is an accepted thing, so there’s no real need for the characters to explain what’s happening to one another, which helps given the novelette’s unique styling—100 chapters of only one hundred words. In this world, spells are basically spirits that give the wielder—or the person being possessed—a wish-like attribute, be it beauty, strength, invincibility, or even the ability to read minds. The catch is, you have to release the spell every day or risk being completely consumed, and you can’t have more than 5 in you at a time or you will literally burn up. That’s not our main characters problem though. Her problem is that students keep dying mysteriously and she, as an outcast, keeps getting blamed for their deaths.
“Evangeline’s Heaven” is a unique reimagining of the fall of Lucifer, and what that fall looked like from the eyes of his daughter. Raised almost completely by her Lucifer, Evangeline is completely devoted to her father and is his loyal little soldier. When a decree comes that states that all Commoner angels—like Lucifer and Evangeline—are being banished to Earth to tend to God’s new fledgling creation, the humans, Lucifer and the other Commoner’s push back against the regal class of angels, the Dominion. The Dominion have always treated Evangeline’s people with extreme prejudice, especially Evangeline, who is half of both thanks to her mother. But while Evangeline’s cause may be good, her father’s true intentions are clouded in secrecy—a shroud that Evangeline does not want lifted until she has no choice but to see Lucifer for who he truly is, and then she will have to deal with the consequences.
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