By (the mysterious) Kirsten Miller
Available now from Razorbill
The Eternal Ones site
Years ago, when I was still in high school, I took a trip with the book club down to San Antonio for the American Library Association conference. We saw the exhibits and spoke in defense of our choices for the Best Books for Young Adults award. While there, I picked up an ARC from a very excited woman. It was INSIDE THE SHADOW CITY, the first book in the Kiki Strike series.
It was, in a word, amazing. Kirsten Miller brought New York City to life, complete with an extra crime-laden city of tunnels beneath. She also created a cast of strong, but flawed, girls and filled the novel with all sorts of useful tips. THE EMPRESS'S TOMB was just as good, and I'm sure THE DARKNESS DWELLERS will fight the good fight as well.
Thus, I was excited for Miller's paranormal debut. She was not content to do another vampire story. No, her romance is one of reincarnation. Two lovers who find each other again and again. But in the life Haven can remember, she might've died due to Ethan's lover getting jealous of his wife. When Haven Moore first sees bad boy Iain Morrow on the television, she knows he's Ethan. But she's stuck in Snope City, Tennessee, and he's in New York.
THE ETERNAL ONES is a fascinating blend of good and bad. The opening in Snope City seems cartoonish. Life in Appalachia is one where your entire community can be convinced that you've been possessed by a demon. Still, Haven's story is absorbing. She runs her own business, in order to get out, even before she sees Iain. She's passionate and clever and surprisingly not a nervous wreck due to her shrew of a grandmother.
Then she actually meets Iain. As more fantastical elements enter the scene, the tone and setting become more realistic. It's an odd effect. Here's where Haven started to annoy me a little. She doesn't know whether to trust Iain or not. There are good reasons in the not column, but she trusts Ethan to her marrow. Or should she not have trusted Ethan either? Haven switches her mind about her lover almost every chapter. For such a clever girl, she's easily swayed by any and all evidence.
I loved Beau, wonderful Beau, even more when he called her out on her wishy-washiness. Beau is merely a standout in a detailed supporting cast. He could just be the gay* best friend - he's sassy enough for it - but he's got more meat on his bones than that. He's an athlete and a fashion designer and he may be in denial about some things but he's not about to take crap from anyone, not even his bestie Haven. That is why Beau rocks. That and the fact that he annoys the bad guy with his awesomeness, which is always a plus.
So on the good column: characters, atmosphere, pace. On the bad column: oh-my-word-will-she-make-up-her-mind, Haven's crazy hometown. Half of THE ETERNAL ONES's love story makes me swoon. The other half makes me wonder why I'm supposed to believe in this eternal love when Haven doesn't seem to be giving it much of a chance. But on the whole, I devoured THE ETERNAL ONES. Miller's writing is compelling.
THE ETERNAL ONES is better than many of the paranormal romances lining the shelves of the book store. It's certainly more entertaining and funny and romantic than a lot of them. (But I like Kiki Strike better.)
*check out The Story Siren's LGBT Lit. Days