by Kelley Armstrong
Genre: YA Paranormal / Urban Fantasy / Science Fiction
Ages: 15 and up
This is the first novel in the Darkness Rising series, which connects to the Darkest Powers trilogy.
Description:Strange things are happening in Maya's tiny Vancouver Island town. First, her friend Serena, the captain of the swim team, drowns mysteriously in the middle of a calm lake. Then, one year later, mountain lions are spotted rather frequently around Maya's home—and her reactions to them are somewhat . . . unexpected.
Her best friend, Daniel, has also been experiencing unexplainable premonitions about certain people and situations.
It doesn't help that the new bad boy in town, Rafe, has a dangerous secret, and he's interested in one special part of Maya's anatomy—her paw-print birthmark.
I loved this book. I loved the characters, the story, the understated fantasy and the setting. Oh, did I love the setting. This book takes place in B.C., Canada on Vancouver Island, a beautiful area. What I found especially cool, though, was how much of it took place in the city of Nanaimo. This was a city I hadn't even heard of until a year and a half ago, just a few months before I went there. Kelley Armstrong captures the lovely city perfectly.
Maya, the heroine, is a wonderful character. Unlike so many YA girls, she doesn't go rushing into romance, there is no love at first sight, and when the love interest, Rafe, seems to be acting in a creepy or suspicious fashion she doesn't automatically discount the possibility that he is genuinely creepy. Thankfully, Rafe is not at all creepy once you get to know him. Kelley Armstrong once again shows her ability to write very realistic male characters who are not overshadowed by her heroines. Rafe is very believable. He has made some stupid mistakes in the past, but he learns from them. I love how he takes such good care of his sister.
Another thing I really liked about this book is that Maya's best friend, Daniel, is not a love interest in the slightest. He is likable and interesting, but there is no hint of a love triangle. I liked that for once the best friend will not end up with his heart broken by the heroine.
The only thing that irritated me about this book is that nothing is really resolved at the end. It is the first in a planned series but it felt more like the beginning of a longer novel. The ending was truly evil, so I can't wait for The Calling to come out. I am also kind of hoping that the Maya and Rafe meet up with Chloe and Derek from the Darkest Powers books at some point. :)
I would recommend this novel to lovers of strong, realistic characters and smart urban fantasy.
Content Ratings: Profanity, Sexuality and Violence
1 (mild) through 10 (extreme).
I rate it a 4.10 for mild to mid-level swearing.
I give it a 3.10 for references, hints, innuendos and a suspected attempted rape that wasn't.
I give it a 7.10 for murder and attempted murder.