Dennis turns the paranormal-romance genre on its head in this impressive debut.
Matt Malone is busy enjoying his freshman year of college drinking with his buddies, fraternizing with young women, playing soccer and occasionally studying, when a sports injury sidelines him. Soon he gets to know the beautiful Liv, whom he’s had a crush on since he first saw her in class. They start meeting outside of class and quickly become a couple. Liv is different from any girl he’s ever known, though it won’t be until nearly the end of the novel that he realizes just how different she really is. Matt’s injured knee seems to be healing at an uncanny rate, and though it shouldn’t be possible, it seems Liv had some effect on it. There are other troubling details about his new girlfriend. On their first date, she injures and possibly kills a man, though he definitely had it coming. Matt shares with Liv a story about one of his childhood teachers who mistreated and unfairly punished him, and not long after, the teacher is brutally killed. In love and obsessed with Liv, Matt cannot or refuses to see who and what she really is until things are about to get out of control. Dennis captures the sulky, somewhat self-absorbed demeanor of a university student in Birmingham, England, and includes sharp, funny observations of people and places. Describing a karaoke host, Matt says, “What he lacked in raw talent he more than lacked in energy.” The story slows down in the parts where Matt spends too much time relating the minutiae of daily life, though this too rings true for the voice of a college student who is accustomed to broadcasting such things via social media. The book’s ending feels rushed. The dramatic, anticipated scene ends quickly, and though Matt is forever changed by the event, only a few pages are spent describing how he copes with the aftermath. Still, the conclusion satisfies.
Strong writing and intriguing characters make this urban-fantasy-infused love story a treat to read.