The awakening of a reluctant but resilient fantasy heroine.
Gemma Pointe is a college student with more than the usual cause for young adult turmoil: no parents, inaccessible memories, a peculiar birthmark and recurring dreams that are soothing by day, terrifying at night. All converge in her true identity, which she learns only after a menacing green-eyed stranger named Malakai recognizes and pursues her. Like him, Gemma is a supernatural, a member of a race known as the Essen, which has individualized special powers, potent and relentless enemies, and a mandate for secrecy among outsiders. She’s in the process of activating her abilities and marked for a pivotal role in her race’s destiny. She’s also attached to Jonny, to the boy next door, whose devotion provides ballast, torment and complications as she explores, fights and faces her fate. Shuttling between her previous reality and the world of the Essen, she unearths game-changing truths about herself, her parents and the history of the Essen. Seymour has created a well-described, living, breathing human environment that grounds and carries over into her handling of the fantasy realm. Human and Essen dialogues flow with ease, aside from some stiltedness that sometimes comes with laying the groundwork for such a detailed world: “Why are you so obsessed with my birthmark?” Gemma asks. “Malakai’s eyes narrowed. ‘Because it is not a birthmark, despite your continued insistence that it is. We all have them, always on the inside of the right arm. But yours is an anomaly. The anomaly. The symbol I’ve been trying to find my whole life.’ ” Gemma may be supernatural, but she has a banged-up humanity that renders her appealing and believable. Early chapters, however, lag with Gemma’s repeatedly recapping her encounters with Malakai. The repetition may help readers with the complex plot and numerous characters, but it proves distracting when the action is so limited. This cavil disappears as the plot’s intricacies accelerate; by midbook, both the pace and ingenuity of the plot propel readers to a climax that delivers satisfaction and surprises. The dénouement neatly lays the ground for further installments.
A worthy contribution to the earthbound fantasy genre.