Author: Sherry Soule
Genre: YA, paranormal, romance
Publication Date: June 2011
Synopsis: Thirteenth daughter. Heritage witch. Demon slayer.
They say every town has its secrets, but that doesn’t even begin to describe Whispering Pines. The townsfolk are a superstitious lot and the mystical disappearance of a local teen has everyone murmuring about a centuries old witch’s curse.
Sixteen-year-old Shiloh Ravenwolf is a heritage witch from the Broussard family, a family both destined and cursed. When she takes a summer job at Ravenhurst Manor, she discovers a ghost with an agenda. That’s where she meets the new town hottie, Trent Donovan, and immediately becomes spellbound by his charms. Yet she is determined to discover the connection between them before it’s too late.
Finally, Shiloh’s met someone who is supercute and totally into her, but Trent may be the next victim on the supernatural hit list. And Shiloh is the only person with the power to save him. Complicated much?
It sucks to have a destiny, especially since Shiloh would rather spend her summer being a normal girl who worries about clothes and boys, not the supernatural. But she’s never been
normal and the stranger things become the more her own magical senses awaken.
With cryptic messages from a pesky wraith, she will begin to understand the mysterious significance of the strange mark branded on her wrist, and decide how much she’s willing to sacrifice to protect the other teenagers in town.
Unfortunately, for Shiloh, not all ghosts want help crossing over. Some want vengeance.
☆: 3/5 – solid story, good plot, but could have used another draft or two.
Review: First, my thanks to the author for sending me a copy for review. Thanks, Sherry! Now, down to business. “Beautifully Broken” has a fun premise and a refreshing heroine (and one of color at that! yay diversity!) who’s not afraid to grow as a person/character throughout the entire book. Which is nice, because so many YA books not only forget that heroes/heroines of color exist, but also because having the character grow as a person seems to have become not an important issue (when it should be) within YA lit as a whole. The main plot and arc were very original (even if I could see bits of “Secret Circle”, “Buffy”, and “Charmed” in there), it was a good, solid story and generally a fun read.
However, I wasn’t entirely sure we needed the extra mini-arc/sub-plot of a romance entangled with everything else. If anything, it made everything feel a little more cluttered and harder to follow (in terms of distraction – is Trent a good guy? Or isn’t he?) within the last half of the book. Frankly, I would have been just as interested (if not moreso) without the romance premise altogether. It kind of disappointed me. Does YA need yet another troubled-girl-who-sees-paranormal-stuff-then-falls-in-love subplot? I honestly don’t think so, and I think that “Beautifully Broken” would have been just as – if not moreso – awesome without the romance element than with it.
Shiloh is a great heroine to be sure, but I just felt like the entire romance part was loading a bit too much onto her plate. And while that’s good for advancing a story, it became yet another part of the puzzle to keep in mind in terms of the rest of the plot – one piece too many.
And then there’s the question of Shiloh’s age. This completely comes down to word choice in dialogue scenes, but whatever. While I can understand wanting to keep the book younger YA friendly with language, parts of Shiloh felt far too young compared to what her age actually was, and thus, unrealistic. Soule held back on this one, when she could have made Shiloh a much realer character than she ended up at the end of the book. I hope this changes in future books, since this looks to be the first in a series.
The technical details: there were a few typos and syntax errors, but for an independent press, it was a very, very good first run. It’s hard to get all of that under control whilst on a budget, so I’m glad it turned out the way it did under the technical detail area.
But when it comes down to it, I think another draft or two was needed to smooth things out, because the last half of the book, while wrapping things up in terms of plot and arc, got a bit confusing. I think had this another draft/copy edit tacked onto it, it would have turned out far better.
This isn’t to say that this is a bad book – quite the opposite. It’s brimming with potential. But it didn’t quite live up to that potential, which is always kind of disappointing.
I think this will be a hit with younger YA audiences, and this is definitely worth a read if you like your witches fiesty. Aside from all of my nitpickiness, I enjoyed this read and I look forward to more from Soule in the future.