Foreword Reviews - - Spotlight Young Adult Books / Fiction - HAN­NAH HOHMAN LETI­TIA MONT­GOMERY-RODGERS

Kim Chance, Flux (JAN­UARY) Soft­cover $14.99 (408pp), 978-1-63583-012-5

Keeper is an invit­ing step into a strong, mag­i­cal young woman’s new and ex­cit­ing jour­ney.

Keeper is an in­trigu­ing South­ern Gothic tale about a fan­tas­tic, mag­i­cal world.

Lainey Styles is log­i­cal and aca­demic; if it doesn’t abide by the sci­en­tific method, it isn’t real. That makes an un­ex­pected su­per­nat­u­ral al­ter­ca­tion feel all the more in­sid­i­ous. A blood­cov­ered woman at­tacks her, leav­ing Lainey un­con­scious with a hand print on her arm. New ev­i­dence forces Lainey to con­front the seem­ingly im­pos­si­ble: she is a witch. And not just an or­di­nary witch. Lainey’s fam­ily legacy is to pro­tect the Gri­moire, a spell book with dan­ger­ous con­tents.

With some help from Lainey’s best friend, Mag­gie, who has a pen­chant for comic books and be­liev­ing the un­be­liev­able, as well as the mys­te­ri­ous and al­lur­ing new boy in town, Lainey must face a pow­er­ful war­lock who has plagued her fam­ily for gen­er­a­tions.

Lainey’s fam­ily, best friend, and pos­si­ble love in­ter­est make for a di­verse and in­ter­est­ing cast. She was raised by her pro­tec­tive un­cle and ec­cen­tric aunt, who make up an un­con­ven­tional, but sup­port­ive and present fam­ily—a heart­en­ing ad­di­tion in a young adult ad­ven­ture. Mag­gie, with her abun­dance of in­sight into the im­prob­a­ble, is also con­sis­tently sup­port­ive; Ty, a new­comer with an un­usual hobby, fits right into the gang, with his pro­tec­tive side and up-for-any­thing at­ti­tude.

A lot of the novel’s strengths come from these bonds; the re­la­tion­ships are in­ter­est­ing and well­rounded. Un­der­stand­ing and com­mu­ni­ca­tion are key to Lainey’s jour­ney, and she feels se­cure enough in her con­nec­tions to share her dis­cov­er­ies and feel­ings.

The world of Keeper is in­tri­cate, with a sto­ried past and mag­i­cal dy­nam­ics be­yond just witches and non-mag­i­cal folk. There are dif­fer­ent fac­tions and be­ings, only some of which are ex­plored. The prom­ise of more ex­plo­ration within this fan­tas­tic world is en­tic­ing; in­ter­est in a se­quel is as­sured.

Keeper is an invit­ing step into a strong, mag­i­cal young woman’s new and ex­cit­ing jour­ney.

Cole re­lents only to dis­cover Ash­ley didn’t in­vite him back af­ter all. As they’re dis­cussing the is­sue, Ash­ley is killed, and Cole’s night­mare be­gins anew. The peo­ple he loves are threat­ened once again. Just when things seem like they can’t get any worse, an old fig­ure from the school fire re­turns to re­mind Cole of an im­pos­si­ble deal he made that fate­ful day—a deal whose terms are fi­nally com­ing due.

Un­like many su­per­hero sto­ries, the body count in Strangers is per­sonal and painful. Al­though Cole him­self never has a clear un­der­stand­ing of the un­canny pow­ers at play, his very lim­i­ta­tions sharpen the stakes. Re­la­tion­ships—whether to the com­mu­nity, his friends, or him­self—are val­ued and valu­able, and the novel is rich with fully de­vel­oped char­ac­ters. No one is rel­e­gated to a prop in this story.

Haunt­ing, high-stakes, and filled with teenage char­ac­ters so real they feel like they could jump off of the page, Strangers is fast-paced and thrilling. The mys­tery of the ini­tial tragedies and the new trou­ble that emerges upon Cole’s re­turn are cap­ti­vat­ing un­til the last page, with gasp-wor­thy ac­tion and real losses sus­tained through­out. Robert­son blends Indige­nous mythol­ogy with First Na­tion re­al­i­ties in a novel that’s ut­terly unique and wholly con­vinc­ing.

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