A young woman comes of age while simultaneously realizing her Maori-related powers in Dauphin’s debut YA fantasy.
Scarlet Flint is a little different from most girls. For starters, she can read the minds and feelings of others, causing her no shortage of trouble. Her unstable life gets more chaotic once she moves from her Australian home to New Zealand. She ends up in the middle of the feud between the mysterious Sterling and his menacing brother, Manu. Her involvement turns out to be greater than she ever imagined just as her telepathic abilities increase. Scarlet is an Elemental, a half-human with supernatural abilities, a gift described in Maori legend. Sterling, another Elemental, quickly becomes her greatest ally—and possibly something more—as she struggles through the dangers she faces because of her powers. While fantasy books based on myth aren’t uncommon, stories based specifically on Maori myth are, making this novel unusual. Detailed explanations of Maori myth provide solid context—Dauphin even includes a glossary—but do not slow the narrative. The characters also help set the book apart. Scarlet is a remarkably strong young woman who faces each new challenge bravely. She is loyal to her love interest but also allows herself to be frustrated with him when he deserves it, and she aims to walk beside him, rather than chase after him. Sterling, too, intrigues. At times, he’s a charmer, evoking in Scarlet “the same feeling [she has] for stray puppy dogs,” but he also has a clouded past that he struggles with, making him a good boy with bad-boy appeal. Skillful foreshadowing appears throughout, and most chapters end with a teaser that keeps the pages turning.
Intriguing good guys struggle against ominous supernatural threats amid the lush backdrop of Maori legend.