Published: 7th February 2015
Publisher: Heaven Afire
Genre: Young adult paranormal fantasy
★ ★ ★ ★ ★ – 5 Stars
Seventeen-year-old Scarlett Blake is haunted by death. Her estranged sister has made the ultimate dramatic exit. Running away from school, joining a surfing fraternity, partying hard: that sounds like Sienna. But suicide? It makes no sense.
Following in her sister’s footsteps, Scarlett comes to the isolated cove of Twycombe, Devon, with grand plans to uncover the truth. Alone. But she hasn’t reckoned on meeting two boys who are determined to help her. Luke: the blue-eyed surfer who’ll see the real Scarlett, who’ll challenge her, who’ll save her. And Jude: the elusive drifter with a knack for turning up whenever Scarlett’s in need.
As Scarlett’s quest for the truth unravels, so too does her grip on reality as she’s always known it. Because there’s something strange going on in this little cove. A dead magpie circles the skies. A dead deer watches from the undergrowth. Hands glow with light. Warmth. Power.
What transpires is a summer of discovery. Of what it means to conquer fear. To fall in love. To choose life. To choose death.
To believe the impossible.
Note: I was provided with a copy of this book from the author for review.
I found it so easy to fall into this story; Tayte’s writing is smooth and has a natural feel to it that allows you to focus on the narrative and not the words themselves. The narrative itself is spectacular, not that it is explicitly grand exactly, but the way Tayte brings these characters to life and creates this story is wonderful and while seemingly simple, it’s surprisingly deep. From the first page the story grabs you with drama and a brilliant narrative voice and from there it becomes a curious but fascinating story where discovering the characters helps to understand the story and vice versa.
The characters are their own person and Tayte makes sure they have the right level of detail and personality behind them to feel in place within the story. Scarlett herself is rather fascinating, she is complicated and determined but she is also unsure of herself and she is looking for answers she doesn’t know she will find. Her voice is authentic and intelligent and Tayte expresses her moods and thoughts incredibly well, meaning you get caught up in her story quickly and have a great understanding of her desires. You can clearly see Scarlett’s uncertainty and confusion as she works through recent events and revelations and with excellent pacing and gradual development there is realism in the progression.
Other characters have the same level of realism. Luke and Cara are well developed characters and they each bring something to the story. Luke is a sweetheart but he isn’t cheesy in a way that makes him unbearable; he is cheeky and loyal, and he has a good heart. Cara on the other hand is clever and passionate and Tayte captures the teen voice perfectly, the one that shows youth, exuberance and stubbornness.
The descriptions and detail of Scarlett’s experiences and emotions was divine, and Tayte makes use of her characters to bring the story to life, rather than too much detail. Information is provided naturally within the story as well as through the characters leaving little need to explicitly state or describe things. The story flows smoothly and gently and Tayte includes multiple layers and side elements to keep the story rounded, while also connecting things and weaving them together with style and seamlessness. Her depiction of the small coastal town is credible, showing just enough detail required to keep the narrative going but it is not overdone, and with seemingly little effort she encapsulates the feeling and workings of a small town without making it feel too small or intrusive. One technically minor part of the story that stuck with me was how Tayte deals with issues characters may have, both mentally and physically. She restrains from focusing on them explicitly, but they are not ignored by any means, creating a balance that feels natural within the story and feels genuine and real.
There is a paranormal component to this story and I liked that it simmers in the background, only being brought to light when the story needed it to be. What Tayte has managed to do incredibly well is connect multiple things together without appearing to do so and nothing dominates the story, instead it is all linked together and of equal value. The paranormal aspect is almost hidden in the background, but at the same time it isn’t. It feels minute in the scheme of things, almost so you forget about it at times, but when it reappears it is a nice addition to story and provides it with extra depth and meaning, and moves the story along. Being introduced gradually and randomly adds to the mysteriousness and it is wonderful in that it often it explains nothing but offers great chances and speculations and theories.
This is undoubtedly Scarlett’s story more than anyone else’s, though Tayte is careful not to narrow the focus too much on her alone. It is certainly a story about discovery and looking for answers, and while Scarlett hunts for answers about her sister, she discovers things about herself as well. Tayte has absolutely enticed me with Scarlett’s story and I am eager to continue reading about these fantastic characters and this intriguing story.
You can purchase Death Wish via the following