Reviewer: Fiona Ingram, a South African writer who loves books, travel, animals, antiques, and adventures of all kinds! Read Fiona’s author site and find out about her recently published children’s adventure novel
Genre: Young Adult
Reading level: Ages 14 and up
Paperback: 360 pages
Publisher: Otherworld Publications LLC (December 7, 2011)
Rating: 4 stars
Available from Kalahari
Golden girl Heven Montgomery had it all: the looks, the body, the talent, the popularity, the good grades, and she is (of course) a cheerleader. Life is perfect…until one day something dreadful happens. Heven is attacked by some horrific creature while walking home from the library and she ends up terribly disfigured. Her life goes from hero to zero in one foul swoop. She can’t even remember what really happened. She hides away from the world, dresses in unattractive clothing, and is left with only one true friend, Kimber. Then gorgeous hunk Sam Kavanagh arrives at her school and things change. Although Heven is sure Sam must be put off by her appearance, he is not. Only Sam sees Heven’s inner beauty, which is still part of her. However, Sam also has terrible secrets; he is not who Heven thinks he is. And he is consumed by guilt about it.
This is a different kind of YA love story, involving the paranormal. It also reverses the ‘Beauty and the Beast’ theme in an interesting way. Just as Beauty discovered the Beast’s inner worth, so does Sam see Heven for who she really is. Heven also rediscovers her sense of self worth. Told from multiple points of view, the story unfolds to reveal an astonishing array of twists and turns, keeping the reader guessing until the very last page.
Author Cambria Hebert has done well with this first novel, getting into the YA thought patterns and expressions, really conveying the emotional highs and lows of the YA experience. Love, the first fluttering feelings, the angst, and ecstasy, and the intensity of each moment are all well described. Emotion, drama, action, horror, and character development make this a YA novel that stands apart from the rest. There is some violence but it is in keeping with the paranormal angle and is acceptable. I found some coincidences a little too convenient and editing issues were distracting, but the story is compelling. YA and paranormal fans will love this book, especially since the ending leads the reader into the next story.