Reviewed by Tori
Favorite Quote: “I’m surprised she’d ever want to speak to me again. She almost died there.“
“You almost died there as well.”
“Yes, but I can’t get away from me.”
Emma is your average normal teenager who has had more than her fair share of grief. First her father passes away, then she loses her boyfriend in a fatal car accident. Emma tries to gain some sense of peace by visiting the cemetery every night with her dog Petel. One visit brings her to the attention of Eric, a new student at her school. He too is in the cemetery with a old woman. When the old woman hands Emma a glowing lantern, her world turns upside down and she awakens to find herself in her room, nursing a concussion and reassuring her mother that she is fine. From that point on, she begins to hear voices and sees the dead; including her father. In fact, she not only sees the dead, she can touch them, draw power from them, and allow others to see them. Eric tries to get her to stop. He plays an important role in awakening of powers in Emma but he tries his best to stop them. Eris is a hunter and belongs to a group that hunts and kills Necromancers. When it becomes apparent that Emma is not only a Necromancer, but a powerful one, Eric has to convince his partner and himself not to kill her. Soon Eric and his partner, along with Emma’s friends, find themselves trying to free trapped ghosts and avoid other Necromancers who want Emma’s powers for themselves.
I am a huge fan of Michelle Sagara West’s adult series, Chronicles of Elantra. She is one of my top ten fantasy authors and I recommend her to everyone who enjoys an exciting fantasy with packed with intrigue, darkness, suspense, humor, and no romance. That’s right folks. There is no romance in here, but once you hear the heroine’s backstory, it’s not only acceptable but demanded. When I heard she was writing a YA, I hurried to put in my request for it. Silence, her first in her YA series, The Queen Of The Dead, is written with the same lyrical prose and clean well plotted storylines, as her other books. The world building in lush in its convoluted layering of truths over lies that form an engaging easy world to relate to. The fantasy is built around the characters themselves rather than the world. Each character that is introduced into the story has a story that requires some careful digging beneath the surface. No one is what they seem and it takes time to understand that what you see isn’t the extent of what you get. The smooth writing and descriptive detailing drew me in and I found myself becoming heavily vested in the characters outcomes. I was pleased by the time and effort Ms. Sagra takes in developing her characters and their connections to the world and one another. I do admit I was a little surprised with how easily Emma and her friends accept her new gifts. There wasn’t much shock when told and the way they jump into help was a little disconcerting.
There are two main protagonists, Eric and Emma, but the secondary characters have such a strong footing in the story that you see them in the same light as Emma and Eric. Emma is a high school student who is merely going through the motions. Her boyfriend Nathan was her whole life and when he died, she was only left with pieces of herself. She is the kind of girl who strives to take care of everyone without actually having to give anything of herself. She exhibits this with her fierce protection of her friend Michael.
“Michael is a highly functioning autistic. I’ve known him since kindergarten. He does really well and he hasn’t needed a permanent Ed. Aide since junior high. But he’s very particular about his routine, and he doesn’t react well to unexpected changes.”
“And the person you dropped the book on.”
“He’s an asshole.”
“You go around dropping books on every asshole in the school, you’re not going to make it to class.”
Ms. Sagara’s heroines are often strong willful intelligent heroines whose sense of right and wrong often leave them battered yet triumph in the end. I found Emma to be similar to Elantra. Same matter of fact dialogue and strength of character with an undercurrent of vulnerability that is appealing. Her heroines never cross the line from broken to victim.
Eric is a broody, quiet hero whose reasons for being at Emma’s school in the first place are unknown and never fully developed. From the first moment you meet him, you get the feeling that he has been to hell and back and that he will kill Emma if she crosses the line from innocent to threat. I admit I wished at times he was more forthcoming with Emma to the reasons behind her powers but you can understand why he doesn’t. He figures the less she knows, the less trouble she may inadvertently get into.
Three characters who were a joy to meet and get to know are Michael, Amber, and Chase. Michael and Amber are Emma’s best friends from grade school. Michael is autistic but there is much more to him then we are allowed to first believe. He helps Emma more than she ever thought he was capable of and his very presence ends up saving Emma’s life a few occasions. Amber is great in that she “gets” Emma. She understands what Emma went through with losing Nathan and while she admits to not really liking Nathan, he biggest concern is helping Emma cope with his death. As Emma tries to take care of the people around her, Amber is quietly taking care of her. She is fierce in her protection of Emma and I look forward to seeing what her role will be in this series. Chase, Eric’s hunting partner, is an enjoyable annoying person. He reminds me of Julie Kawaga’s character, Puck. Sarcastic, playful, loud, yet all that is used to hide a dark past that begs to be told. Various other characters appear to round out the storyline and keep it on track.
As we venture deeper into Emma’s new life, I found the mystery and horror to be very appealing;dripping with action and suspense. While the world Ms.Sagara has built is definitely interesting and has the potential to become much more then revealed so far-I found her characters to be the focal point of this drama. As we race towards the end, I felt like I was on a roller coaster, my stomach pitching and rolling as each new clue and dramatic scene unfolded. I like how everything isn’t explained and some decisions are made without any hints to what the outcome will be. The ending is a climatic finish that satisfies the story wholeheartedly but leaves enough open to assure me that the next in this series,Touched (The Queen Of The Dead #2), release to be announced, will be on my auto buy list. If you looking for an engaging character driven fantasy that delivers on all levels, then I recommend getting Michelle Sagara’s Silence.
Overall Rating: B