After joining with a man who can kill with his mind, a 13-year-old telepathic girl learns many secrets in this paranormal novel.
In an unknown coastal town, locals grow up with the legend of notorious murderer Lord Talson, known for his bright yellow eyes, his ability to kill with his mind alone, and his cruelty. He’s based in a massive offshore building that’s “the headquarters of a very powerful and secret society of organized crime” called the Silver Shadows, which keeps tabs on the Thomason family, especially their daughter, Katerina Alicia. At 13, Kat is troubled by dreams of yellow eyes and people screaming in pain. Her father explains that when she was a baby, Lord Talson attacked them both but failed to kill them for unknown reasons and has been lying low ever since. Nevertheless, when Kat receives an invitation to visit him, she accepts. Talson explains that not only doesn’t he want to murder her, he’d like to teach her about her power to connect with and influence another’s thoughts. He also offers her a position among the Silver Shadows. Powerfully curious, Kat joins them, setting her at odds with her father. As Kat learns more about her abilities, repercussions emerge from years-ago events in the Sharktooth Bar, a fishermen’s haunt where a Silver Shadow was killed and another imprisoned for illegal gambling; related to this, Kat’s best friend’s father was killed by Talson. Slowly, more truths emerge about Talson’s and the Silver Shadows’ origins as well as the complicated nature of Talson’s powers, building to a dangerous confrontation in which Kat will have to make some difficult choices affecting many others.
In her foreword, debut author Torgersen explains that she began this novel at 16 “with no research, no plan, and no idea of where my plot was headed,” finishing when she was 20. Not unexpectedly, the book betrays the writer’s inexperience and lack of control. It’s often repetitious and clumsy; for example, “ ‘What happened?’ asked Kat, wondering what other strange things might have happened.” There’s an ongoing and unfruitful obsession with how old characters seem to be: Remi Nelson “was thirty-five, but looked forty-five, at best”; John Carl “was thirty-three [but] looked older”; though Kat “thought Talson was much older than thirty-nine…now she thought he looked younger,” and so on. The crime organization is dramatic but not well thought out. For example, Talson’s ability to pay his followers depended on a now-gone gambling operation, so how does he now stay afloat? And why should payment depend on that since Talson can so successfully manipulate minds? Talson’s pronouncements often fail to ring true, such as “anger, pain, and killing” being “the three most complicated things in human existence.” The book’s ideas about mind control are complex but uninteresting and fruitless to remember because Talson lies, changing the rules. In better moments, the book achieves a poignant tone of magical realism, especially in scenes from Talson’s childhood.
Overlong and unengaging.