Author: Gillian Shields (profile)
Published: August 4, 2009 by Katherine Tegen Books (Harper Collins)
Price: $7.49 Book Depository $8.99 Amazon
Series: Immortal #1
Synopsis: Wyldcliffe Abbey School for Young Ladies, housed in a Gothic mansion on the bleak northern moors, is elite, expensive, and unwelcoming. When Evie Johnson is torn away from her home by the sea to become the newest scholarship student, she is more isolated than she could have dreamed. Strict teachers, snobbish students, and the oppressive atmosphere of Wyldcliffe leave Evie drowning in loneliness.
Evie's only lifeline is Sebastian, a rebellious, mocking, dangerously attractive young man she meets by chance. As Evie's feelings for Sebastian grow with each secret meeting, she starts to fear that he is hiding something about his past. And she is haunted by glimpses of a strange, ghostly girl—a girl who is so eerily like Evie, she could be a sister. Evie is slowly drawn into a tangled web of past and present that she cannot control. And as the extraordinary, elemental forces of Wyldcliffe rise up like the mighty sea, Evie is faced with an astounding truth about Sebastian, and her own incredible fate.
Initial Thoughts: The first thing I noticed, of course, was the cover. It's beautiful and a bit mysterious, but the jewelled necklace thing has been done to death and the title is a bit cliche. Really, the only reason I gave this one a chance was that I've read some great reviews for it. Everything else seems a bit, well, old. As in done already, not very original.
Review: Did anyone else read the prologue and think: "WOW. What the heck is going on here?" I was hooked immediately. Then, the first chapter was spooky, haunting, beautiful. It had a bit of a Gothic feel, a bit Wuthering Heights, a bit Jane Eyre. Then she meets him and the whole encounter is so very Mr. Rochester that I was wondering if this was going to turn out to be a modern adaptation of Jane Eyre. (Unfortunately, it isn't.) Then the story shifted to her introduction at the school and the day-to-day life of a poor girl at a rich girl's school. The teachers were scary. From the start, you know that there's something off about this school. She's assigned a dead girl's bed, earning her the hatred of the dead girl's best friend. She can't seem to get to class on time to save her life, which is a big deal when your teacher is a malevolent harpy. One thing that nagged me was her inability to get to class on time. She's basically isolated in this big old house with nothing much to do but go to class. The relationship between her and Sebastian is a bit unrealistic. She falls in love immediately, risking her scholarship to see him. I was expecting him to be a darker character, especially given the prologue. However, I don't mind a sensitive, troubled hero. When everything goes crazy, I'm glad that he doesn't just jump in and save the day. The girl gets to take charge and be the hero(ine) which was nice. I loved the atomosphere of this book. I could picture the misty moors and looming old mansion perfectly. The problem was mostly with the characters. I can't quite put my finger on the reason why I couldn't really connect with them, but I couldn't. The ending wasn't very satisfying either. I'll give the second book a chance, because I enjoy Shields' writing style and the story has a lot of potential to get interesting, but it's not going on my list of favorites. It just didn't live up to my expectations. After the first part of the book, I expected something amazing.
Quick Review: This book was spooky and full of potential, but the characters were a let-down. Definitely worth a read, but I'd go to the library for it.