This dark, thoughtful sequel to The Mark (2010) eventually subverts practically every paranormal-romance cliché.
Seventeen-year-old Cassie has accepted her ability to see impending death; she is a descendent of the mythological Fates. Seeking guidance on this "gift," she leaves her small-town home and friends to immerse herself in a study of death, working at a funeral home, researching different spiritual traditions and visiting a young woman committed to psychiatric care after seeing the "Angel of Death." She also becomes involved with the supremely arrogant (and dangerously magnetic) Zander, who claims to have the answers about Cassie's purpose and destiny. Cassie is both mature and sensitive, ever conscious of the feelings of others and agonizingly aware of the consequences of her own choices, while retaining all the foibles and yearnings of a realistic teenager. If her school life and the multicultural Chicago setting are given short shrift, and most of the secondary characters remain opaque, that's because so much depth is given to Cassie's interior struggles. While it may frustrate some readers that her ethical quandary never receives a clear solution and so many plot threads remain dangling, others will respect her eventual acceptance of uncertainty.For those willing to ponder difficult questions and appreciate the opportunity to come to their own conclusions, Cassie's visions will resonate long after the last page is turned. (Fantasy. 14 & up)