I have read all of Mark Del Franco’s adult urban fantasy stories and was quite sad that his publisher decided not to continue with the series. So the last book of his I read would be back in 2012 and I kept hoping that he would write another book; even through a self-publishing route. So when I found this – and he did go into self-publishing, I immediately purchased it. Even if it was a Young Adult book – because trust me, it was not one of my top favorite genres. I enjoyed this one a lot.
Before coming to my opinion, I do think that I need to mention that this book has several typos. Mr. Del Franco might need to find a better editor at that.
** The Story **
Arden Lewis found out that she was a Paragorn – a human with Talent (an ability to control one of the four elements: air, water, earth, and fire) – and then her family whisked her and her younger brother up to the city of Everglen, because more Paragorn lived there and they would be safer. On the first day of school, Arden immediately attractes the attention of a popular football player and they soon go on a date and become boyfriend-girlfriend.
As far as the young adult theme – and I admit I have only read several – duly noted, I didn’t think it offered anything new. In fact, it was quite stereotypical. We had a ‘freak’ girl being bullied by the bitchy cheerleader who thought she was the queen of the world. The cheerleader was the ex of the football player, and the boy still had feelings (apparently!) for her, so Arden found that the jock chose to side with his ex more than one time. It was all, well, high-school drama that I found a common trope and not particularly a fresh one at that.
However, I still enjoyed the story a lot because there were other things going on with the urban fantasy element (I’ll get to that). It was quite fast-paced and entertaining. Especially coming at the last 10%-15% of the book – where the high school drama escalated into something more life-threatening and dangerous when the ‘freak’ decided to take revenge on the cheerleader queen. You know that 90s movie, The Craft? Yeah, it was quite a show-down with a devastating result that I totally didn’t see coming.
** The World-Building **
The world-building was quite interesting. Again, it might not offer something new – these were about people with supernatural elements — but I still found that interesting. People with magic or supernatural abilities is one of my favorite themes in urban fantasy (more so than vampires or shifters!). So it was REALLY fun to read how Arden and her brother, Peter, practiced their Talent. The four ‘names’ for the Paragorn Talent were also fun: Sylph for air, Undine for water, Gnomus for earth, and Salamander for fire.
Since this was in a contemporary setting, I didn’t have any trouble understanding the urban fantasy element. There were two factions of the Paragorn where one faction was more dangerous than the other. I enjoyed how Arden slowly discovered that, and how dangerous the other faction was. It kept things interesting – with all the secrets – because the contemporary young adult element was pretty much predictable.
** The Characters (and Potential Romance) **
I really liked Arden – I thought she was a likeable heroine. She had an AWESOME relationship with her family, especially when it came to her younger brother, Peter. They argued and bantered like siblings but they also supported one another. I thought it rocked.
I also loved how Arden stood up for things she saw as injustice. Oh, when it came to her versus the bitchy cheerleader-ex, I also liked Arden’s plot for revenge *grin*. While there were stereotypical characters – like I mentioned above – when it came to the jock and the cheerleader and the freak, I mostly enjoyed this for Arden and her family.
There was not much of romance … I mean, sure Arden went out with Brandon, the jock, but I didn’t feel it as a romance. There was a potential with Davis Digby, though, that boy who wasn’t part of the popular clique at school, who was another Paragorn and ended up teaching Arden her Talent. I liked him and he might be the love interest for next books (whenever that may be).
I really hope that Mark Del Franco continues this series because the ending, that is like a teaser for something bigger. Not exactly a cliff-hanger but I definitely don’t see it as closure. This better not be the only book set in this world. Unfortunately, I still can’t find more information about the future books. I guess I just have to stalk Mark Del Franco’s website or livejournal for that.