She Smells the Dead is the first book in the Spirit Guide series written by E. J. Stevens. The title alone was enough to grasp my attention. It promised a new twist on the ever-popular young adult fantasy genre and I was eager to get started to see whether it delivered on it's promise.
She Smells the Dead is told from the point of view of Vanessa Stennings, more commonly referred to as Yuki. It's the start of Yuki's senior year and with that comes a lot of change and of course, a lot of drama to deal with. As if teasing jocks, her studies and beginning to see her best friend Calvin in a different light wasn't enough, Yuki has an even more overpowering problem. She can smell the dead. Yuki has what she calls 'smell impressions' which are smells related to the restless soul of someone who needs her help in order to move on and be at peace.
As the main character, Yuki is both enchanting and believable. She stands out from the crowd and doesn't allow those who can't accept her bring her down. She's often called a 'witch' by her classmates, egged on from her unique looks and style. The best thing about Yuki, in my opinion, is that despite the spiritual talent she has and the responsibilities that come with that talent, she's still a girl who is trying to find her place in the world. I can relate to her as she's alike to most teenage girls; she copes with the stress of school life, her best friends and confusing crushes. She doesn't claim to understand who she is or why she has her talent, but she does the utmost to deal with it.
Stevens successfully introduces and develops other characters throughout the book which allow She Smells the Dead to be an entertaining read. There's Calvin Miller for instance. Yuki has been best friends with him forever. However Yuki is beginning to see him in a new light which confuses her a bit. There closeness and commitment to each other is compelling to read. I loved being introduced to their relationship and I hope in the following instalments to see further developments. I definitely believe they have the potential to become a new power couple in fiction.
If reading about a teenage girl who can smell the dead was not interesting enough, Stevens adds even more to the plot with the life-changing revelation of what Calvin truly is. I don't want to give anything away for those who are yet to read this book but this revelation plays a big factor into allowing the story to be so uniquely interesting. I'm eager to see how both Yuki and Calvin develop throughout the series.
Stevens writes in a way which is straight-forward yet allows emotion and detail to still stand out. For me, she beautifully told a story which not only had me reading the book in one sitting alone, but had me begging for more. I can guarantee fans of the paranormal and fantasy will love this book. It's a great introduction to the series and I can't wait to read the next instalment, Spirit Storm.