In this debut fantasy novel, after family tragedy, college-age Sage Frankle discovers her supernatural capabilities and bloodline legacy.
Sage stands numb in front of a casket. She recently lost her mom to cancer, and now her stepfather’s friend David has died of unexpected heart failure. Her stepfather, off the wagon and wild with grief, tries to strangle her, and Sage’s world goes black. Before she knows it, her stepfather is in an alcohol treatment center, and she has put her college classes on hold to live with her aunt Ilia at the latter’s inn in another part of Vermont. Sage goes for counseling but is too depressed, too scared to delve deep. She doesn’t remember what happened with David, but she seems to read others’ thoughts and has been having odd dreams. Her cousin Lilly, who had left for a trip around the time of David’s demise, returns home, drawing to the surface the dark energy lurking throughout the inn. Sage either sees or imagines Lilly in bondage sex with the local “Playboy Chef,” who is then weakened by a mystery illness. Handsome, angelic Lucien, whom Lilly treats as her master, arrives on the scene, as do Tate, a sweet, nerdy mythology major and son of the ailing chef, and Desden, Sage’s gay tattoo artist best friend from home. As Sage’s strange behavior escalates, Ilia finally explains all, and the group bands together to deal with the girls’ powers and the “portal” gateway of the inn. To launch this planned series of tales focused on these alluring young women, debut author Hampton sets up a diverse cast of players and a solid, believable back story that draws from Jewish folklore. Some of the characters, such as a crime writer who’s a frequent guest at the inn, are rather awkwardly introduced, perhaps to be further developed in future installments. Overall, however, Hampton conjures a heady blend of eroticism, fantasy, humor and coming-of-age angst that should appeal to both Twilight and Buffy the Vampire Slayer fans.
Ambitious, entertaining start to a sexy YA paranormal adventure series.