4.5 stars out of 5
"I've tasted your blood, Anna. I know how pure you are, but to see through your eyes...I don't feel deserving. How can you give yourself to a hunter like me?"
**Please note, gifted by author for an honest review**
First I want to thank author Robyn Jones for requesting that I read and review her debut novel, Soul Walker. I was intrigued by the blurb but what really grabbed me and drew me into this book was one word, autism. I have lost count of how many books I've read where the lead heroine is different and/or gifted. She stands out from everyone else, with some paranormal explanation being the link. While Soul Walker is a paranormal read, a YA romance, there is a new twist on the heroine. Outside of the paranormal reasons for this and that, her gifts, her strengths, Anna is autistic. The fact that Anna is autistic, created a richness that blended so well, adding charm to a teen heroine in a genre where most are rendered fragile, needy and in desperate search of thee boy to 'complete them'. Anna's parents, Sam and Sue Pierce, wanted more for their daughter, disability be damned.
The occasional nightmare isn't really out of the norm for a 5 year old girls active imagination. For Anna Pierce, however, it was much more than that. A little girl, her dream sister, Daniella was in many ways, Anna's best friend. Time with Daniella wasn't always pleasant. Anna began seeing violence, monsters and bloodshed. According to Daniella, the only way to stop the nightmares was for Anna to stop talking, and so she did. Twelve years later, just before Anna's 18th birthday, tragedy strikes. Anna's entire world is stripped away from her, leaving her with a hard nosed grandmother, a couple of cousins she hasn't seen in years and a mysterious boy that seems just. so. familiar. Such drastic changes would prove difficult for basically anyone, now imagine a girl who has lived inside her own head for years.
Soul Walker was such an amazing read for me. I'm not the biggest fan of YA but Ms. Jones did a fantastic job telling the story of a 17 year old girl without making the story childish or juvenile. The storytelling was fascinating and as the reader, you get a real sense of Anna, her quirks and what drives her. Anna does have a special gift and a connection to a world she knows nothing about, a world she didn't even know existed. This brave young woman is now faced with moving forward in both of her worlds, worlds that slowly blend together creating one odd, delightful dysfunctional family. As the story plays out, Anna does make progress. She gets more comfortable, slowly learns some social do's and dont's but still remaining "Anna". Ms. Jones didn't magically 'cure' her autism. Another standout for me is Peter, our hero. Peter isn't 'typical' either. While his ethnicity is never actually stated, through descriptions, Anna's inner dialogue, we discover that Peter's skin is a gorgeous milk chocolate. I can only speak for myself but I enjoy diversity in my sexy, vampy heroes so this was a pleasant suprise!
Let's talk supporting cast. Anna's grandmother, Ella is definately rough around the edges but you can't help but love her. She too has to adjust to what fate has handed her. It isn't easy but she isn't one to give up easily. Then we have the the cousins. Sara, a teen mom to be, who seems very sweet and wants to look out for Anna. Betsy on the other hand, is bitchy, snarky and often a pain in the ass, but she too seems to have a heart of gold. Peter comes with his own odd little family as well. His Sire, Lillian is a Queen amongst the vampires. Lance, her mate and also the resident meterosexual of the group, well...I just couldn't get enough of him. Then there's Jared. Jared, in some ways, remains a question mark for me. He is the most fascinating of the supporting characters. His personality and charm, you can't help but love him as well. I expect alot more about him as the series progresses. He too has a past, a rough history where love is concerned, and a growing attachment to our heroine. Did I meantion he's also Peter's bestfriend? Towards the end of the book we meet Billy and his coven. They live very different than Peters current 'family', definately more from them and I can't wait!
Why not 5 stars? I had a couple of minor issues. A turn of a phrase can make or break for me. Anna would often say 'pray to the Gods of...', soft landings, gods of this or that. For whatever reason, that just annoyed me. Also, at one point, Peter has to be away for a few days and leaves both Lance and Jared to watch over and protect Anna. They don't exactly stay in the shadows. They're always hanging around and yet no one really questioned it. That struck me as odd especially considering Ella doesn't really know them yet there they were, hanging around her house. Not questioning it didn't seem to flow with Ella's personality.
Overall, Soul Walker is a fascinating, fresh approach to paranormal romance. I can't say for sure that this is a YA series. Keep in mind, in book one, Anna is 17 and learning how to cope with touching and being touched, what is appropriate and what's...well, not so much. lol I can only hope that it matures right along with Anna and her relationship with Peter. I have already recommended this book to two friends and now I'm recommending it to all of you as well. March can't come soon enough, I can't wait for book two!
For more on Soul Walker, visit Robyn Jones on her blog, http://robgirlbooks.blogspot.com/.