Monday, July 26, 2010

BR: Immortal-- Gillian Shields

Immortal: Gillian Shields
Young Adult, Fantasy (Witchcrafty type)
(Thumbs up from me!)

(side note--- I really need to figure out how to post pictures with my posts. I'd help just a bit, no, if I could put a picture of the cover so you KNOW WHAT I'M TALKING ABOUT.... grr... my stupid lack of computer skills...)

I enjoyed Immortal quite a bit more than I guessed I would. Maybe that’s because I’ve had NO LUCK with the last two books I read and was feeling quite pessimistic about my chosen genre. But Immortal proved to be another great addition to the Urban Fantasy genre.

Well, no, not really Urban Fantasy. I mean, sort of… but it’s a very non-paranormal urban fantasy. It deals with more of the spell-casting mortal types than the werewolves, vamps, faeries, etc… So does it even qualify for an Urban Fantasy? Oh gee. Now I’m all mixed up.

Whatever, it’s a Young Adult fiction. Oh, look, right on the cover: “Enticing gothic romance.”--Melissa Marr. Melissa Marr? SHE’S MY FAVORITE! (Aside from Maggie Steifvater, of course. Tied for first place in my heart.) Well lookie-there. Melissa Marr again refuses to let me down.

What you need to know: Evie Johnson is sent as a scholarship student to Wyldcliffe Abbey School for Young Ladies when her grandmother/pseudo-mother falls ill, and her dad is serving in HRH army. But from the beginning, things don’t go so great: the teachers are mean, the other scholarship girl is kind of crazy, and everyone hates her because she’s sleeping in the bed of Laura, their peer that died just before Evie arrived. Collecting demerits and bad judgments from both the Mistresses and her peers like they’re going out of fashion, Evie is starting to hate Wyldcliffe. And then she starts having fainting spells where she sees glimpses of a girl that seems remarkably like Lady Agnes, the girl that once lived and died at Wyldcliffe when it was a normal home some hundred years ago… In an attempt to get away from it all, Evie runs out one night to the lake, where Laura supposedly drowned (although others suspect otherwise), and meets a strange boy with strange depressed moods and always seems sick and like he’s keeping a secret. Sebastian becomes Evie’s nearly only friend, one she sneaks out every night to see for a few hours. Meanwhile, we read excerpts from the journal of the sixteen-year-old Lady Agnes, who in 1882 is starting to get into the Mystic Way with her childhood friend, having discovered the gift of the scared fire… Throughout the novel, we read the stories of both Evie and Agnes’s stories of discovering friendship, mysteries, and their strange ties to each other, Wyldcliffe, and, surprisingly, to Sebastian.

Immortal has strong ties to one of my other favorite series, the A Great And Terrible Beauty trilogy from Libba Bray. Where GATB is set in the late eighteen-hundreds, Immortal is set in the here and now, but both are set in the English countryside at boarding schools for girls. But where GATB is dark, Immortal is light. GATB was intense, and, well, dark. I liked it well enough; actually, quite a bit, but Immortal is like a fresher version of it. Again, the main heroine shows up at a boarding school as an outcast, is hated by the teachers, makes a circle of girlfriends close enough to be sisters, and they dapple in magic together, and the heroine falls in love with what should be a forbidden boy. But where in GATB, the girls are dark and selfish and confused but greedy of the discovered power, the girls in Immortal are pure in intent and are overall good girls.

The story was fast-paced, never lingered and dawdled, which was nice, but at the same time, I wished some of the scenes were written out a bit longer so there was more time--and matter-- to comprehend, especially the scenes with Sebastian. They seemed a bit rushed. But the turns of the plot were well thought out: not terribly surprising, but not completely predictable. And having the novel split into Evie’s story and Agnes’s journal? Very well done. Shields creates strong metaphors with the sea, which is really neat and serves a higher purpose towards the end, and the sisterhood between the two girls who lived generations apart is neat in a non-creepy way. The whole thing was very well done.

Apparently, there is a companion to Immortal, titled Betrayal, BUT BAD NEWS! My Barnes and Noble currently doesn't have it, so I'm going to have to order it online... so it'll be a week or two before I can get a review of it up. From the excerpt that I read, it looks really good. I'm quite excited for it :)

Gillian Shields: props for taking gothic romance/magic, and making it LIGHT and PURE instead of DARK and BROODING.

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