Three teenage sisters with extraordinary powers explore their abilities in Calderoni’s debut novel, the first in a young-adult trilogy.
First-person narrator Emerald Tempest and her older sisters, Mia and Terra, have always been special, gifted with “charms,” as they call them. This might seem magical to an outside observer, but according to Em, the charms are all rooted in physics. Em is able to manipulate time, making it seem to speed up or slow down. Mia can interact with different dimensions of the multiverse, “like tuning into a radio station.” And Terra can both sense and alter the vibrational energy of animate and inanimate objects. The sisters live in Santa Cruz, California, with their mother. The story takes off when Em develops a crush on Ryan Laurent, a new boy in town from New Orleans. (She muses: “I’ve never felt about a boy the way I feel about Ryan, and this is the first time I’ve had to find a place inside me for the feelings and questions that come with thinking about someone in this way.”) But his twin brother, Colin, threatens their burgeoning romance. A dark and moody soul, Colin becomes obsessed with finding a special book that he believes the girls’ Aunt Eva has taken from their family and which holds the key to time and dimensional travel. The sisters decide to investigate whether Eva, who has a history of drifting into and out of their lives, has indeed taken the volume and why Colin is so desperate to find it. The novel has many striking attributes, including a strongly developed, likable protagonist; an engaging writing style; and a distinctive magic system. But the tale feels underdeveloped, with too many unexplained, disconnected threads. It never gives the sisters the chance to fully use their powers, making the charms feel more like window dressing than vital story components. And the plot turns Colin into such a broadly drawn baddie that he fails to register as a real person. The narrative ends abruptly on a twist that, while intriguing, makes it feel as if the last pages of the novel are missing
An ambitious tale with an exuberant heroine who manipulates time but that lacks a lucid plot and believable villain.