Quill & Quire
As the second book in Kelley Armstrong’s The Darkest Powers trilogy opens, 15-year-old Chloe Saunders is still clinging, albeit precariously, to the notion that her life may one day return to its dull but safe routines. Never mind that her failed attempt to escape from the mysterious Lyle House group home has landed her in an even more sinister containment facility, and that her only adult ally, Aunt Lauren, appears to have been working for the bad guys all along. Such is the optimism of youth. That sense of optimism against great odds tempers The Awakening
’s increasingly dark supernatural elements and steers the novel clear of the goth-kitsch realm of a certain much-beloved teen vampire saga. Chloe’s experiences at Lyle House have reluctantly convinced her that she is a necromancer, and not, as the doctors and nurses there insist, suffering from the first stages of schizophrenia. Being a necromancer comes with its own set of headaches and challenges – visits from disembodied spirits and unwittingly raised corpses topping the list – but at least it’s better than being mentally ill. Now that she understands her true identity, Chloe just wants to learn to channel her powers and get back to her old life. But a cabal of ruthless scientists will do anything to stop Chloe and the other supernaturally gifted teens from living to see adulthood. Armstrong keeps Chloe and her friends’ typically adolescent identity struggles in the forefront as the conspiracies and clues pile up, grounding the novel in emotions familiar to YA readers. Derek, a budding lycanthrope humanized by his role as Chloe’s protector, is a particularly strong creation, a brooding mass of conflicted hormones and good intentions badly executed. The suspense rarely lets up, and fans of Armstrong’s adult Otherworld novels will enjoy the parallels between Chloe and her supernatural friends’ adventures and those of their grown-up counterparts. Bring on the third novel.
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“[The Awakening] hits the ground running, leaving readers tripping, stumbling and racing to keep up.… Will exhilarate even readers new to the series.”
“Armstrong has some fun toying with supernatural teen thriller conventions, and the taut pacing should please fans of the exploding genre.”