Reviewed by Tori
Favorite Quote: “We all hold a beast inside. The only difference is what form it takes when freed.”
Aaron (Rain) Ryland has spent his whole life on the streets due to his mother’s drug addiction. When his mother dies from an overdose, he is sent to live with an aunt he’d never met before in the small town of New Wurzburg, TX. Right off, Rain senses things aren’t right in this town. He soon finds himself drawn to a group of outsiders at the high school. Particularly their leader, Friederike (Freddie) Burkhart.
Freddie isn’t your normal teenager. She tries to warn Rain away as others seek to draw him in deeper but he refuses to back down. He has finally found something-someone- he’s winning to fight for. When Rain learns exactly what is happening in this sleepy little town, he has to ask himself if Freddie is worth dying for. Because someone wants her dead and Rain may be the only one who can save her.
Haven is a young adult paranormal romance that borrows from Stephanie Meyer’s Twilight series and Jeanne-Marie Leprince de Beaumont’s Beauty and the Beast but with some gender swapping and much needed modernization. Lindsey takes the old classic trope of beauty saving the beast and twists new life into it, introducing us to a whole new paranormal world of wolves, witches, and magic with two outcasts who are determined to solve a series of murders while making sure they don’t lose their own lives in the process.
The similarity to Twilight is strong in the tone and initial setup. Rain Ryland is obviously Bella while Freddie Burkhardt is an interesting combination of Edward and Jacob. Rain is sent to the small town filled with supernatural beings to live with his aunt Ruby who is on the police force and finds himself unnaturally drawn to the mysterious Freddie and her cousins despite their overt antagonism towards him. There are even motorbikes involved. Lindsey expands on a small scene introduced in Twilight, one that hinted at the werewolves being controlled by vampires in the past. This is the base of the conflict but that is where the similarities end. Neither Rain nor Freddie are waiting to be saved There are no attempts to pretty everything up for the sake of love and acceptance. These strong-willed, intelligent, curious teenagers with raging hormones, mercurial emotions, and the survival skills who work together to save themselves.
‘He’d never feared losing something before because he’d never had anything worth keeping. ‘
The theme of witches controlling wolves is not new. Various authors have alluded to it in their stories but Lindsey succeeds in making it her own with her creation of Watchers, Weavers, and their dark history that she painstakingly records. The weavers are witches who use their magic to help the wolves. In return, the Watchers aka the werewolves protect the witches. Over time, this relationship has become warped becoming more slave/slave owner as the weavers decide who lives, who dies and uses deceptive means to introduce fresh blood into the packs.
“You’re romanticizing the monster.”
“And you’re vilifying it.”
Heavily character driven, the large and individualized cast helps to set the story and keep it in motion. I enjoyed experiencing the story through the eyes of a male protagonist. Lindsey does an excellent job building Rain’s character and creating a unique person more than able to handle what is coming his way. Freddie is just as unique and Rain’s perfect match though she maintains her autonomy in all aspects. Rain’s aunt Rudy is an interesting character and does her best to be parent his mother should have been. Lindsey builds Haven with a steady hand, confident narrative, and lots of organic detail; creating a world filled with potential and brimming with action, suspense, intrigue, and romance. Vampires, zombies, and more decorate this multi-layered fantasy. The addition of murder, mystery, and general mayhem helps to ground the story in reality while elevating it beyond the confines of the stereotypical YA paranormal romance.
”I’ve never had a friend before. I’d like that friend to stay alive.”
The romance has the sweet blush of first love with strong sexual undertone that definitely makes this a more mature YA. Lindsey does an excellent job of using the insta love romance as a way to further explain her leads personalities. These are teenagers who have each experienced extreme trauma in their lives so it makes sense they would connect with little fanfare. Lindsey does speed it up the romance as the story reveals but it makes sense due to the mature nature of the conflict and its subplots. Though vocal in their passion, the actual sex fades to black.
‘She all but consumed him, wrapping her arms around his neck and digging her nails into his skin. Hot. Demanding. Perfect’
Haven is a breath of fresh air in YA paranormal fantasy and sure to appeal to readers young and old. I truly hope Lindsey chooses to expand on this world and turns this into a series.