A realm of monsters. A world of lies. She belongs to both.
Happy release day to this beautiful book that I had the pleasure of reading in advance, thanks to the author Julie Hall and to Book of Matches Media. Do you like reading about angels and monsters, characters with powers they don’t understand, all in an urban fantasy setting and with a slow-burn romance like the cherry on top? If yes, then you must pick this book up. See below for the synopsis, my spoiler-free review, and some of my favorite quotes. Then, do yourself a favor, and pick up a copy of this TODAY!
My name is Emberly, and everything I’ve ever been told is a lie.
Monsters don’t exist. Wrong.
The nightmarish spectrum world is just my imagination. Wrong.
In a few months, I’ll finally be free. Wrong.
It takes being dragged to a secret training academy in the mountains to unravel the truth. My captors–an elite race of angel-born warriors called Nephilim.
The deadliest of them all is an arrogant shape shifter, Steel. He’s gorgeous, lethal, hot-headed . . . and convinced I’ll be the death of them all.
Maybe he’s right. As soon as I show up, the monsters that have haunted me my entire life breach the academy walls. My only hope of saving my new friends is learning how to control my powers, but when a stunning betrayal hurts someone I care about, I have an impossible choice.
Stay and fight for a place to belong . . . or decide once and for all that I’m better off alone.
Enter the spectrum world, a realm in-between worlds where shadow beasts draw blood, reality is a maze of twisted lights and sounds, and life goals are whittled down to just one: survive.
Fans of Jennifer L. Armentrout and Cassandra Clare will love this Crescent City meets Crave mash up!
First of all, I have to say that I was pleasantly surprised by how quickly I became totally immersed in this book. I didn’t go into it with any expectation except that, having read the synopsis, it sounded right up my alley. And boy, did it grab me and hang on tight! I actually read the whole book in two sittings, and stayed up until 4:00 am to finish it. It was THAT gripping.
One of the things I loved most about this book is that it is an urban fantasy with all the monsters and magic and other trappings, but it is so much deeper than that, too. Emberly is a character I was instantly drawn to and felt connected to. She had never belonged anywhere in her whole life, and it had made her tough and independent, but you could also feel the longing she had for a group of people, a family, to belong to. I loved that this book explored this deeper theme, and I thought it was really well done.
Now let’s talk about Steel. Oh Steel. I am such a sucker for the strong, silent, broody type with secrets. And that’s Steel to a T. I really like him, and I loved the slow burn of the romance. I won’t say more because spoilers, but I thought his relationship with Ember grew in ways that were surprising but also matched the story well. There were times when I found him maybe just a little bit *too* jerkalicious, but it wasn’t over the top or anything I couldn’t live with.
Aside from Emberly and Steel, I gotta say I loved the side characters. Emberly truly starts to find her framily, and it is so sweet. I absolutely loved the twins, Sterling and Greyson. They are like two sides of the same coin, and create so many great moments of comic relief and amazing snarky banter. Add in Ash, who is about as sweet as they come, and you’ve got quite the group. I also enjoyed the complicated relationship between Emberly and Nova, and the way it evolves throughout the book.
One more thing to I have to mention is how awesome the magic and history is that Julie Hall has inserted right into our modern-day world. I loved learning about the world of the seraphim and angels, and thought it was well-explained without being dense. It was great that Emberly also knew nothing about her own history and magic because then we got to learn along with her, and that was great. I loved wondering about Emberly and exactly which line of angels she was going to turn out to be part of. And that made the ending that much more exciting to find out!
I am so very glad this is only the first book in a series because I’m gonna need more Emberly and Steel (and heck, the whole crew) and I’m gonna need is SOON. It is so awesome to discover a new author of urban fantasy who writes interesting and complex characters.
“People see me as weak. I’m not, but making it through the day without altercations is important if I don’t want to accidentally slip out of this reality.”
“On a bad day I’m a lot of things, but dumb isn’t usually one of them.”
“Being oblivious but safe sounds better than joining some paranormal circle of trust.”
“I’m too new to friendship to understand all the rules. Be honest, but not brutally so. Be sincere, but don’t let yourself be taken advantage of. Be accepting, but don’t be afraid to call someone out on their crap.”