So true to my word, I am going to start reviewing good or interesting books that I read by new and up-and-coming writers, seeing as there are so many books I need to actually read anyhow. I think the author of this particular book will be very tickled that I kicked off my spring/summer book reviews with her debut novel. So without further ado, here we go with this book review.
Burden of the Soul is the debut novel from new author Kate Grace and the first in a series of young adult novels. I heard about this book from a coworker who was in the know, and I picked it out of the numerous e-books in my Kindle when I was in the mood for some light reading. As soon as I started reading it I discovered that this was by no means some fluffy little teenage paranormal romance. The book had much more substance to it, and my literature-loving brain could already pick out elements commonly used in storytelling.
But first, the story. Burden of the Soul tells the tale of Clara Gaber, a sixteen-year-old high school student who is just floating through life, doing the best she can to remain invisible by day while secretly pining over her crush and reading his blog by night. “[T]here was nothing wrong with mediocrity. We can’t all be special or in the highest percentile,” she thinks. As much as she tries to be normal, though, she is much different from her fellow peers. Not only is she able to slightly sense others’ feelings, but she also has had dreams about chasing a boy named Devin through green hills and never being able to catch up with him.
But it is on her sixteenth birthday that Clara’s world changes forever with the loss of her mother, and soon everything she has ever known begins to unravel as the rest of her family is taken from her. In the midst of all this she learns who and what she really is: she is half of the world’s oldest soul, the other half of which was stolen by a group of Fallen Souls for their own means. She came down to Earth in order to destroy the other half, so that everything would remain in balance. Soon everything—the dreams, the visions, and the secrets—begin to make sense for Clara, but she grapples with what she came down to Earth to do. She is determined to find another way around it, even if it means breaking the vow she made before coming down to Earth.
Grace’s characters are vividly fleshed out, yet it is clear that they will have much room to grow and change as events in the series progress. Clara is a female character with much agency; while confronted with all of these changes and revelations, she acts on her own and and butts heads with those who would choose to act for her. And while the series contains the love triangle that was used in Brontë and later in the Twilight series, there are also many elements of the hero’s journey within. Clara is the one whose decisions will affect the outcome of the conflict, even if there are those who would wish her to ignore her free will and follow her predestined fate. Grace also provides a foil to the fantastical element of her tale in the bustling urban setting that is New York City, which hides much behind its busy streets and picturesque parks.
While the first book ends on a cliffhanger, there is much more to come, and I am eagerly awaiting the next book in the series to see how this will all play out. There is nothing more to say: I am hooked!