Hannah offers a debut YA novella about a Catholic teenager who discovers something deeply troubling about her ancestry.
Seventeen-year-old Malady, nicknamed “Mal,” never took her classes seriously in parochial school. She sometimes has flashes of uncontrollable anger, but she dismisses them as typical teenage angst; sometimes she dreams about strangers dying right before they do so in real life, but that’s probably just a coincidence, she thinks. It turns out that Mal’s family has a big secret that they need to tell her, although her parents keep insisting that she isn’t ready to hear it. Then Mal’s grandfather, whom she thought was long dead, comes for a visit. His identity has huge repercussions for Mal, as it means that she’s destined to fulfill a prophecy to be a leader in an upcoming war. She’s understandably upset by this news—but unfortunately, she doesn’t have much say in the matter. Hannah’s prose is sharp and snarky, and her characters speak in the familiar, perennially bored sarcasm often seen in modern YA fantasy: “I’m an Angel of Death,” says one, “or if you’d like, a Grim Reaper of some sort. But that’s not what’s got your sister’s feathers all riled up.” This slim volume builds slowly to the big revelation of Mal’s heritage, although the reader will likely see it coming from a mile off. (Who has a grandfather nicknamed “Lucie,” after all?) And although the author assembles a large array of otherworldly cast members, they don’t have much to do—at least not yet. At fewer than 80 pages, this book is a mere introduction to a forthcoming series in which Mal navigates a dark and dangerous supernatural world. Whether Hannah’s take on this well-trod fantasy territory will offer anything new remains to be seen.
A stylish, if not terribly original, preface to a paranormal series.