My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Who would have thought that a YA novel about witches could be so fascinating and deliciously dark? I was slated to feature Amy Keen within the month and eagerly devoured the first in her series. Most supernatural/paranormal YA reads dance on the campy side of the fence, without daring to delve into the darker side of things. Ms. Keen has no trouble doing just that, however, with tasteful excellence. I enjoyed getting the in's and out's of real life, from classic teen experiences like moving homes, first day jitters and new friends and the introduction of "the hot guy." I felt that Keen did a good job wrapping us up in Scarlett's fears and concerns. She didn't come right off as a bad ace, instantly able to control her "gift," or too much of a cliche, either. Instead she had real, albeit at times annoying traits that inevitably endeared her character to me. One of my favorite aspects of this novel is the web of history surrounding the town of Salem. Many have tried to depict it with differing methods. I have honestly never read a book like Embers, where past, present and future collide so effortlessly. Evil villians are top knotch here as well, when Scarlett isn't being her own worst enemy. What makes these bad guys terrifying, is that they're simply men with narrow minded passion. The love interest, Jake "Mc-Hotterson" wasn't too unapproachable. Like all of these three-dimensional characters, he has quirks and he is completely gorgeous without seemingly aware of the fact. I loved how real his relationship with Scarlett became, though half the time I was holding my breath, worried over the heartache I was convinced was to come.
Keen's writing is somewhat abstract at times, glossing over trivial conversations much as we tune things out in real life. I haven't read dialogue quite like hers before and once I was used to it, appreciated how her method sucks you into her storytelling. Use of the supernatural was not overdone, and kept mysterious. Twists and turns lead you down many paths in this novel, ending in a beautifully unexpected way.
I read Embers in one day, counting the late hours into the night and tonight. Don't just take my word for it. Take a chance to be engrossed in this rich, haunting novel by a unique and promising new voice.
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