Top positive review
A spoiler-free review!
on 20 May 2013
This is the story of Ember, a troubled 19 year-old who's always been able to sense the ultimate death of anyone she touches. She doesn't know why she has this 'gift', and not surprisingly it's resulted in a very solitary life. She generally avoids human contact and has never had a boyfriend. Her family life has been plagued with problems, in fact tragedy seems to attract itself to Ember like iron to a magnet. Then she meets Asher, and discovers that his touch brings a peculiar kind of calm. The book revolves around their relationship and their natures. Who are they? What are they? Is there someone, or perhaps a sinister group of people, who are trying to get rid of Ember? Unlike other reviewers, I won't spoil this book by telling you the nature of the characters - I would point out that this is not revealed in the story until over one third through the book, and it's not explained in the cover blurb so I feel that giving it away is a huge plot spoiler. Sadly I foolishly read the top Amazon review before buying, which explained what the characters were in the first sentence, and so the mystery was taken from me. What a shame, as the author skilfully drips information and clues into the plot, and I can't help feeling it would have been a much more satisfying read if I hadn't already been told.
It's an original premise (although if you've read any of Kalayna Price's 'Grave Witch' books, you will notice some peculiar similarities, probably entirely coincidental). I did have some problems with the actual writing however. It's written in first person present ("I open the door and see...") which always feels a little clunky, although after a while I did get used to the style and stopped noticing it so much. More unforgivably are the numerous typographical errors. I do think they're genuine mistakes, rather than a lack of ability on the part of the writer (not so for some other books in the Kindle store), but nevertheless they jar. It's a shame that the book wasn't more thoroughly edited. The ending didn't work perfectly for me; it left me with the feeling that the author had suddenly decided that she might want to write a sequel, or perhaps a series of them, and so made some hasty changes. Also I couldn't help feeling that the names Ember and Asher were a bit twee; it's all a bit too terribly symbolic for its own good.
All that said I've decided on 4 stars (rather than 3) because it's an interesting idea, and because the character of Ember was well-written: both troubled and strong at the same time. Someone who's suffered tragedy and numerous set-backs, but just keeps picking themselves up and moving on rather than moping around feeling sorry for herself. The plot is engaging and, despite having seen spoilers, I kept turning pages right through to the end. There were still some surprises. Plus I think the author deserves some credit for making a first person present narrative work at all - no mean feat. I would say that if you've been enjoying the recent rash of fantasy romances, this might just make a refreshing change.