Release Date: Already on shelves
Cheerleader Isobel Lanley is horrified when she is paired with Varen Nethers for an English project, which is due—so unfair—on the day of the rival game.
Cold and aloof, sardonic and sharp-tongued, Varen makes it clear he’d rather not have anything to do with her either. But when Isobel discovers strange writing in his journal, she can’t help but give this enigmatic boy with the piercing eyes another look.
Soon, Isobel finds herself making excuses to be with Varen. Steadily pulled away from her friends and her possessive boyfriend, Isobel ventures deeper and deeper into the dream world Varen has created through the pages of his notebook, a realm where the terrifying stories of Edgar Allan Poe come to life.
As her world begins to unravel around her, Isobel discovers that dreams, like words, hold more power than she ever imagined, and that the most frightening realities are those of the mind.
Now she must find a way to reach Varen before he is consumed by the shadows of his own nightmares.
His life depends on it.
Not having read much of Poe's work, I wasn't sure what I was in for when I started this book. But quickly learned that regardless of your interest in him and his work, you won't encounter any confusion and I'm pretty sure you'll love the book as I did!
So what kicks start this wonderful novel is an English project. Popular cheerleader, Isobel Hanley, is paired up with 'goth freak' Varen Nethers to do a project on Edgar Allan Poe. Neither is particularly impressed with the match-up, but they're stuck together and soon this chance encounter grows into a beautiful, strong bond, yet at the same time brings with it a scary world of dreams and things not of this reality.
Both the characters and the plots are standouts in this novel. Isobel is not your typical perky, blonde stereotypical cheerleader. Okay, yes, she's a blonde, popular cheerleader who likes pink. But she has more depth and is SO much better than her absolute JERK ex-friends. I say ex because they do not take well to her hanging around Varen. Her boyfriend, Brad is.. ugh. What an ass. They do a bunch of awful stuff and make horrible threats towards Varen and all the while I just want to push my fist through the pages and make contact with the nearest nose. I'm so glad Isobel isn't one of those girls who just complains about the crap they're doing, yet still hangs around with them. No, she dumps their sorry asses and stands up for Varen. Right at that moment, this girl totally shot up in popularity with me, despite her popularity being downgraded in school.
I approve wholeheartedly of her new choice in friends - Gwen is awesome. Seriously, I'm loving this girl. She's funny and impulsive and persistent and not someone Isobel would have ordinarily hung around. I also really enjoyed the relationship between Isobel and her younger brother, Danny. That was everything a brother/sister duo should be. That boy is one funny kid, nearly all of his lines had me laughing. They argue, barter, cover-for-each other (but with a price), name-call and yet there is that underlying sibling love. I thought it was portrayed very realistically and hope we see more of it in the sequel.
What started our as a school project between two of the most unlikely students, become something far more intense. A connection was formed and feelings began to grow. I really like that they didn't instantly 'fall' for one another - it grew over time and felt very natural. Varen is not a character who lets his guard down easily, so it takes some time for Isobel to see that vulnerability that lies beneath and awww, I wanna give that boy a big hug. *pauses writing review to give imaginary Varen a hug* I feel better now, do you too? Good. I really loved him. On the outside, both he and Isobel are polar opposites - cheerleader and goth. But Varen is intelligent, sardonic, witty, sweet and who woulda thunk I'd fall for a 'goth' boy? See! Damn stereotypes in society. There is so much more to a person than how they choose to look.
The paranormal element comes in more heavily in the second half of the book, but it begins to emerge itself into Isobel's life after meeting Varen. She starts seeing things, hearing things, things that are not normal - creepy, scary, horrific looking things - are they real? As these occurrences become more frequent, there's times when she's unable to tell the difference between dreams and reality and soon the lines begin to blur together and overlap into what becomes a race to save Varen from the dreamland he has created. But will Isobel save him in time before he's lost to that world forever? Excellent question, you better read the book to find out!
I'm very happy to hear this is the first in a trilogy, because CLEARLY it cannot be it after that ending. I can't wait to see what happens next and how certain events will unfold. I also became more interested in Poe and his work from reading this novel, so it's encouraged me to do some research!