From Goodreads: “Her mom is dead. Ghosts follow her around. Her best friend is an elephant. And she’s about to meet the biggest game changer of all: a boy. With a secret. When circus-dwelling Gemma Flannery learns she will be attending public school for the first time in her seventeen years, little does she know that fitting in with her 12th-grade classmates will be the least of her concerns. A pro at hiding her knack for seeing the dead (“shades”), Gemma is grieving the recent suicide of her mentally ill mother, a process eased by the introduction of her first real love interest, the charming and painfully handsome Henry Dmitri, who is harboring his own collection of dangerous secrets. Together, they will be presented with a frightening challenge: to assume their roles as heirs to a 3000-year-old magical text, the AVRAKEDAVRA, a book the über-rich, sleight-of-being master Lucian Dmitri would do anything to get his hands on. As each terrifying layer in her new reality melts away, Gemma unearths truths that her quiet, nomadic life with the Cinzio Traveling Players is not at all what she’d always cherished. Gemma and Henry must rely on each other to stop Lucian’s diabolical plotting that will bring the world to its tired, scab-riddled knees, and are sent on the flight of their young lives, to save themselves, their families, and the world from the darkest kind of destruction. Let the chase begin.”
Sommersby is a fabulous storyteller, roping in the reader in the very beginning through her pristine use of prose and characterization. I was enamored by both the characters and the writing as I read. Sommersby has a wonderful gift with words, and she captures the true nature of humanity as she creates life-like characters right on the page. Each character in the novel was created with love and care and, as you read, they become extremely real. Sommersby develops her characters so magnificently that you will fall in love with them and truly feel like you know them. All the characters are given true attributes of human nature, making it hard to draw an exact line between good and evil, though it blatantly exists.
As the story progresses, Sommersby does a phenomenal job explaining all the intricate details within the novel and keeping the reading informed, leaving few questions unanswered. A mastermind storyteller, Sommersby will have you on the edge of your seat as your turn through the pages. I was hooked from page one as the mystery, deception, and tension took hold, and I was amazed by the touching love story that will have all female readers jealous; Henry is magnificent!
I really enjoyed the many different quotes Sommersby chose to begin each chapter. Each one was selected with care, foreshadowing events to come. Sommersby obviously put a lot of time and effort into picking the perfect quote to aid the reader, and it is a refreshing way to begin each chapter. I also highly enjoyed the many references to Shakespeare hidden throughout the text. Gemma professes to be a lover of Shakespeare, and while there are many blatant references to the literary genius throughout the work, there are just as many subtle references as well. As an English teacher, the subtle references throughout the novel made it that much more enjoyable.
Sommersby is an up-and-coming author to watch, and her next novel in this series, Stratagem: Book Two of the AVRA-K, is set to release this fall. I can’t wait! Five stars for the beautiful story!
I received a copy of this novel from the author in exchange for an honest review.