A young woman attempts to escape her destiny in Reed’s debut novel, a young-adult urban fantasy.
Velma is an orphan whose mom died when she was 4 years old and whose father abandoned her a few years later. After years in the foster system, she became emancipated when she turned 15. Three years later, she fell in with something of a mystical fight club. The fate of the entire world rests on a representative from each of two related groups—the Taram and the Eirum—who fight to the death and thus maintain balance, saving the world from destruction. These representatives, or chosen ones, are known as the Kachina. True complications don’t arise for Velma until Josh, one of her dearest friends (and for whom her feelings are possibly even romantic), is chosen as the Eirum Kachina and she, the Taram Kachina. That’s when she decides to escape and have her fate mystically cleansed in order to prevent her from having to either kill or be killed by her best friend. In Velma, Reed has crafted a complex, strong protagonist with a genuine dilemma far more mature and fascinating than the typical teen angst love story. The concept of the Taram/Eirum fight and its necessity is also quite unusual and intriguing. At the same time, however, the novel’s world feels underdeveloped. As narrator, Velma tosses a great deal of convoluted mythology at the reader without enough explanation. The exact link between this mystical fight and the fate of the world isn’t explained nor is the reason why these tribes are the ones to make the sacrifice. Velma and the others don’t seem to have any magical powers, which makes the question of why they must fight even more difficult to understand. It’s also hard to emotionally connect with such abstract concepts, particularly when the specifics are so sparsely detailed.
An unusual story that could have used more development and focus in its worldbuilding.