Monday, July 20, 2015

Review: Death Wish by Megan Tayte

Title: Death Wish
Author: Megan Tayte
Series: Ceruleans, Book One
Publisher: Heaven Afire
Published Date: 7 February 2015
Buy: Amazon

I received a copy of this book from the author for review.

IN SEARCH OF THE MEANING OF DEATH, SHE’LL FIND THE MEANING OF LIFE.

The Ceruleans: mere mortals infused with power over life and death. Five books; one question: If the might of the heavens were in your hands, would you be sinner or saint?
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 an isolated English cove 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.
(Summary from Goodreads)


Weaving the joys of friendship and romance with the devastation of loss and grief, and questions of supernatural powers, Death Wish is an intensely atmospheric read.

Right from the very first page Tayte builds a tension that runs throughout the rest of Death Wish. Questions of Sienna's actions before her death, of her reasons for killing herself, of who Jude is, of who Scarlett is without her sister, plague this story. Yet they're not always the focus, and in this Tayte excels at evoking mystery. For the most part Death Wish is the story of Scarlett finding her place in the world and being herself. In the face of her sister's suicide, Scarlett breaks out of her shell, pushing herself to do things she never would have considered doing otherwise. She forms a quick and true friendship and falls in love. Death Wish is full of these cheery, awkward and real moments. Amazing adventures learning to surf, getting drunk at parties, and going on swoonworthy dates make the story a solid contemporary YA. Even Scarlett's dealing with her sister's death and her parents' lack of, well, everything adds to that. But on the periphery, constantly, is a shadow. Animals that appear to be dead only to walk away after a touch, glowing hands, the mysterious Jude...these things weigh on the story. Tayte only ever provides tiny glimpses of the paranormal elements but they're enough that even when you're laughing, you're waiting for the other shoe to drop. There's a palpable tension all the way through the book. While it's great, it also does become a little tedious though. One truth is revealed by the end of Death Wish, and it's not even that much, really. I can't help but feel the story was building and building but the pay off didn't hold up. Sure, Death Wish is the first of five books, so there's certainly more to come, but for now Death Wish stands as rather just an extended introduction. That is my only issue with this book though, as the writing and feel of the story is great.

As are the characters. Though there were times I wanted to shake some sense into Scarlett, for the most part I was invested in her story. You feel for Scarlett, for her wanting to experience more, and her bouncing between emotions is true to grief and trying to move on. It's real and touching. I adored Cara and Luke. Care is larger than life, wild, honest and beautiful. She always had me grinning. Whereas Luke is good and sturdy, trustworthy and just as beautiful. His romance with Scarlett is a slow build and I enjoyed every dreamy sigh inducing moment of it. And for that reason, I don't like Jude. As it stands, Jude is still a major enigma. Much like the paranormal aspects of Death Wish, he's sort of just there, hovering on the sidelines. There's no doubt Jude will become a big player as the series continues and his role will be interesting, I'm sure. But I also get the feeling he's likely to become the third point in an unfortunate love triangle and that prospect depresses me. My heart is set on Luke, sorry Jude. And I'm not the kind of girl to change allegiances. 

Death Wish is an engaging read, darkly moody and full of feeling. With more questions than answers, be prepared to want to read the rest of the series!

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