Undertow (Undertow #1)
By K.R. Conway
Published October 11th, 2013
Young Adult | Urban Fantasy | PNR
Source: Received from Author (via NetGalley) in exchange for an unbiased review (Thank you!)
About the Book:
Eila Walker knows luck is not a friend, so she is downright shocked to inherit a million-dollar Cape Cod home. And yeah, her new town isn’t perfect: the cheerleaders are heinous clones, the local undertow can kill ya, and her Great Grams was supposedly fried by lightning in the harbor square. Still, Eila is hopeful her luckless days are in the past . . . until history decides to repeat itself.
When drool-worthy Raef O’Reilly becomes her friendly, yet weirdly protective shadow, Eila thinks life is pretty darn perfect – until she is hauled beneath the waves by an unnatural undertow. Revealing coal-black eyes and iron-like strength as he rescues her, Raef can no longer hide what he is . . . or what she can do. Eila, last of her kind, can supposedly channel the power of human souls, while Raef is more adept at stealing them. Even worse, the legend about her ancestor isn’t such a myth, since Eila’s grandmother was one kick-butt warrior until her lightning-like power backfired. A power that is written all over Eila’s DNA.
Determined to stay one step ahead of a dangerous clan that is hunting her, Raef, along with three unlikely allies, will do all they can to protect her. But as hidden pieces of their brutal histories unravel, Eila begins to understand just what went down in the harbor square. She soon realizes that following in her grandmother’s fearless footsteps may be the only way to save those she loves . . . including Raef.
I absolutely LOVE stumbling on new authors who bring with them new worlds and unique supernatural “creatures”. This is Ms. Conway’s debut novel and I believe she really knocked it out of the park! Sorry, lame metaphor but I’m watching the World Series. Either way… it’s a fantastic new world with a deep rooted history!!
Story / World Building / Tempo
The story starts off with a flashback to over 150 years prior. Painting a dank, dark setting on the docks in New England, Ms. Conway introduces us to the protagonist’s grandmother during a clandestine meeting. That’s how we learn of the two main types of supernaturals in this series: Lunaterra and Mortis.
Flash forward to present day when Eila (the granddaughter and voice of the book) is in the process of getting settled into her new home on the cape in Massachusetts. As the house has sat empty for many years, of course the locals are curious about the new neighbors. Add on to that the perils of navigating through the hells of high school and Eila actually manages to make a few friends. But it’s the fact that she’s drawn the attention of the “hottest guy in the school” that makes her the head cheerleader’s enemy number one. Clichè, yep, but what are you going to do? It serves a purpose in the plot.
The story moves along at a great pace and “reveals” come at the perfect moments. And even though this is truly a YA-level romance, the magnetic tension between Eila and Raef is potent. I swooned quite a bit during this one :D. It made me wish for an adult version of this story – maybe these two when they’re older?
Eila was great as a teenager who’s had a whole family history and a new LIFE thrust upon her. She’s very mature to begin with but still waffles and see things in the world like any teenager would. And, of course, her decisions reflect being a teenager. I really loved her spunk!!
Raef completely endeared himself to me because he was written so thoroughly and, dare I say, “fleshed out” well. Figure this one out: Raef is part protector, predator, annoying little brother, sulky teenager, master carpenter, and oh yeah – sexy as HELL!! No, the kitchen sink was NOT thrown in – these character traits work well together. I think he and his “big brother” are the best characters in this entire book.
Speaking of big brother… I want Kian to have his own book. It’s just an idea.
Kian, Ana, and MJ are excellent supporting characters and often steal the scene. Seriously, each one could hold their own book, a novella at the very least.
Despite a definite ending to the “crisis” in Undertow, there are plenty of loose ends (no spoilers here) to tie up in the next book in the series, Storm Front, expected summer 2014.
About the Author:
I have been a journalist for 15 years and serve on the Board of Directors for the Cape Cod Writers Center. I also drive a 16-ton school bus because I am ENTIRELY NUTS.
In addition to working jobs that should come with a warning label , I hold a BA in Psychos (Forensic Psych), torment the tourists about Jaws, and occasionally jump from the Town Neck bridge in an attempt to reclaim my youth.
I live on Cape Cod with two smallish humans who apparently are my kids, my fishing-obsessed husband, two canines (adept at both flatulence and snoring), and a cage-defiant lovebird that sleeps in a miniature tent. Nope – that’s not a type-o. The bird is quite the indoor camper.