Month: May 2016

THE GIFTED: REBORN

Michelle Alstead’s The Gifted: Reborn opens with one of those classic lines that demands the reader’s attention:

I brought my mother back from the dead, and it’s a mistake that could kill us all.

giftedFifteen year-old Sarah Proctor is “gifted” with supernatural abilities. What she wants is a normal life, but between her abilities and the efforts of the Mallum—an evil race that wants to use her powers to their own ends—her life is anything but normal.

The Mallum possess an ancient staff that could enslave the entire human race. Sarah’s ability to channel energy from the earth could activate the staff. As the Mallum close in, Sarah will find herself with a choice—save the people she loves, or save the human race.

This is the second book in Alstead’s Gifted series. The first, The Gifted: Awakening Begun is good intro to Sarah Proctor’s saga, though the second book is enjoyable as a stand-alone. The story’s main strength lies in Alstead’s unerring sense of character. Sarah is, above all else, a teen. She walks the delicate line between compassion and chaos that any young adult reader (or parent) will recognize. The character-driven twists and turns are surprising; never contrived. Alstead’s prose is “gifted” as well. You will enjoy the sure voice and fierce pacing of this extraordinary YA novel. (Five stars out of five)

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SOUL RETRIEVERS

Sea background - dark red moody sky with reflection in water

Bureaucracies are prone to error. In David Burton’s Soul Retrievers, innocent souls may be accidentally sent to Hell. Grieving relatives have a recourse—hire a specialist to return the innocent to Heaven’s gates. The job is risky, though. If the specialist dies in Hell, his or her soul is trapped there for eternity.

 
The protagonist, aptly named Getter, has a new assignment—he must retrieve the soul of a ten-year-old girl. But the already insane dangers of his centuries-old profession are worse than ever. Retrievers are disappearing, including Getter’s brother-in-law. And Getter seems to be the focus of a prophecy involving war in Hell.

 
Anyone who loves comic books will love the slam-bang pacing of Burton’s novel. This reviewer has become somewhat tired of the faux-Middle Ages setting so popular in fantasy novels. The shifting maze of traps and horrors that is Burton’s vision of Hell makes for a refreshing change. I enjoyed this novel immensely. Burton’s prose is straight-forward, with hints of noir. His imagination is part Dante, part drugs. Enter this bug-infested Hell at your own risk. (Four stars out of five)