When a sudden, debilitating illness places 17-year-old Cora Sandoval in the hospital, she wakes up with the unsettling power to see other people’s auras and judge their feelings by the colors she sees. She always sees herself, however, as glowing bright silver. To make things more confusing, Cora soon captures the attention of Finn, a handsome Irish exchange student who may be hiding secrets of his own. Unable to get any answers from her suspiciously tight-lipped father, Cora goes to Ireland to seek the truth, eventually uncovering the mystery of a special race called the Scintilla, of which her mother was a member. Scintilla are hunted by other beings called Arrazi, who gain power by taking other people’s life forces; this, it turns out, is what really happened to Cora’s mother, who vanished in Ireland when Cora was 5. Clark’s novel is laden with standard tropes: a bookish, unpopular heroine; a family secret; and, of course, a rakish, mysterious boy inexplicably drawn to the heroine. Yet these all provide a foundation for an intense story that expands on aspects of real history and mythology. Cora’s personality and deadpan humor pop off the page, as do the novel’s evocative, emotionally charged descriptions of people and places (“Do houses have memories, too? Can they recall the squeal of a little girl chasing after a grasshopper in the grass?”). Cora is an active heroine, using her aura-reading power, as well as a quickly developing ability to read the histories of objects, to traverse an unfamiliar country and discover illuminating treasures. The love story sometimes distracts from the plot, although it’s full of passion, as well as irrational jealousy when Cora meets a man with a silver aura like hers. However, it eventually becomes an integral part of the tale.
Despite typical paranormal teen traps, Clark’s novel is a powerful, heart-wrenching adventure.