Author: Julianna Scott
Genre: YA, Urban Fantasy, Paranormal
Publication Date: March 5, 2013 (Strange Chemistry – North America)
Source: NetGalley Review Copy
Summary: 17-year-old Becca spent her whole life protecting her brother from, well, everything. The abandonment of their father, the so called ‘experts’ who insist that voices in his head are unnatural and must be dealt with, and the constant threat of being taken away to some hospital and studied like an animal. When two representatives appear claiming to have the answers to Ryland’s perceived problem, Becca doesn’t buy it for one second. That is until they seem to know things about Ryland and about Becca and Ryland’s family, that forces Becca to concede that there may be more to these people than meets the eye. Though still highly skeptical, Becca agrees to do what’s best for Ryland.
What they find at St. Brigid’s is a world beyond their imagination. Little by little they piece together the information of their family’s heritage, their estranged Father, and the legend of the Holder race that decrees Ryland is the one they’ve been waiting for. However, they are all–especially Becca–in for a surprise that will change what they thought they knew about themselves and their kind.
She meets Alex, a Holder who is fiercely loyal to their race, and for some reason, Becca and Ryland. There’s an attraction between Becca and Alex that can’t be denied, but her true nature seems destined to keep them apart. However, certain destinies may not be as clear cut as everyone has always believed them to be.
Becca is lost, but found at the same time. Can she bring herself to leave Ryland now that he’s settled and can clearly see his future? Will she be able to put the the feelings she has for Alex aside and head back to the US? And can Becca and Ryland ever forgive their father for what he’s done?
☆: 3/5 stars – a good solid debut and a good magical story!
Review: This is a good debut, guys. I definitely hear other reviewers when they compare this to Harry Potter, but I’d say this is a bit of a darker version of “kid goes to magical school”. While I feel like I wanted a bit more than what I got out of “The Holders”, it’s still a very solid YA debut, and definitely worth the read.
I think Scott’s weakest area was the worldbuilding. I just didn’t entirely feel the whole paranormal world built around St. Brigid’s and our characters, even though Alex helped create a good chunk of it. Though the information and backstory of the world was separated well enough, I do feel there were pockets of infodumping that could have been re-distributed better throughout the book. I just wasn’t feeling this world as much as I could have and that was a bit disappointing. Ireland is a gorgeous backdrop, and I just wish I could have seen it a bit more in the sensory area than I was able to.
Scott’s greatest strength is in her protagonists and main cast. I found that I really liked Becca, Ryland, Alex, and the rest of the main cast characters, and found them very fleshed out. However, some of the big reveals when it came to the antagonist were pretty much handed to us within the first few chapters of the book, and his identity wasn’t exactly well-hidden. So those big reveals? Well, they felt a bit wasteful, and I wanted a bit more twists and turns than what I actually got concerning the antagonist.
The plot felt a bit simple, but its construction was good, sturdy, and supported all of its arcs and sub-plots really well. I love the idea of an X-Men type of school along with a shadowy antagonist, so this was right up my alley, and I enjoyed it. I just feel like it could have been so much more than it was.
Final verdict? This is a great debut, and definitely another feather in Strange Chemistry’s cap when it comes to books in their collection. I think I might just read book two after all. But that’s just how I feel about it. “The Holders” is out now from Strange Chemistry in North America, so be sure to check it out when you get the chance!