A teenage orphan enters a world of magic and vampires to learn of her enigmatic origins and her newfound powers in Kell’s (Mandate of Blood, 2012) supernatural thriller.
Sixteen-year-old American Indian Phoenix Arizona was named after the city in which she was found, abandoned as an infant by her parents. She doesn’t know that she’d been born with the mark of the Prime Evil and that her mother left her behind to stop men from kidnapping her. But she’s all too aware of strange markings on her skin that expand every year on her birthday into twisting lines like intricate tattoos. She also has dreams of taking the form of a wolf and speaking to a spirit who claims to be her birth father. When Phoenix holds a dream catcher someone sent to the antiques shop where she works, she has a vision of a young boy being killed by a warrior. This dream catcher, it seems, has a power that people are willing to kill for, from Mafioso types to vampires. Phoenix’s father tells her that she can release her ancestors from a curse, but first the girl must protect herself and her friend Nathan from those itching to get their hands on the dream catcher. Phoenix also learns that she is capable of much more than turning into a wolf. This dark tale delves into more violence than the typical YA novel: Phoenix is sexually assaulted more than once, and the battles and deaths are decidedly bloody. Similarly, Phoenix is more poised and mature than her teenage years might suggest, especially regarding her romantic entanglements. She’s enchanted by vamp Richard, but she understands that she has deeper feelings for Nathan, whom she’s known for years. Kell delivers plenty of action, including numerous scenes of Phoenix, Richard and Nathan evading or fighting humans and monsters alike. Phoenix’s escape from two evil vampires at a club is particularly memorable. Kell saves answering certain mysteries until late in the novel, providing a satisfying finale while leaving room for a sequel or prequel.
Too bleak for readers on the hunt for adolescent vampire love, but it’s just right for those who like their supernatural stories with more bite.