Series: Evangeline Devine
Author: Annalise Hulse
Rating: 4.5 stars
Evie plans to have an ordinary day on the water, but when she nearly drowns, things quickly spiral away from normal. When she wakes up in the hospital, she realizes two astonishing things: First, that Seth, her best friend who saved her, might be more than just a friend, and second, that she can communicate with ghosts.
Just as she’s getting used to the strange path her life has taken, someone close to her is found dead, and because of her gift she knows the truth: that he was murdered. Her investigation brings her to the doors of the wealthy Antoine Du Pont and his teenaged son Piers. But as she grows closer to finding the killer, she cannot always tell who she can trust – the living or the dead?
Ordinarily when I get review requests, I read the book descriptions and am like, “Meh, that sounds somewhat interesting.” When I read the blurb of Gifted, my response was more akin to, “A girl in England with supernatural powers? And two boys, one of whom is best friend and one of whom may be ebil? Sign me up!” Okay, yes, so I have an undeniable penchant for both the British Isles and love triangles with bad boys. But! The important thing is that in this case, I was not disappointed.
The story was quite exciting, with a lot of danger and high stakes that felt more real than your average paranormal dilemma. Evie is in a very precarious position, trying to solve a murder that no one believes is murder, while also dealing with a supernatural heritage that is more complicated than she knows. The people who she should be able to trust are keeping secrets from her, and the people being nicest to her may well be plotting her downfall. It’s a suspenseful journey, and we don’t know until the very end whom she should be trusting.
Gifted read quite smoothly throughout, and for the most part the story kept me captivated. There were, however, a few points where narration wandered away from the plot and stayed in little side stories for long enough that I was like, “Lalala, I don’t care. Can we go back to the main story now?” The first two of these points were related to spirits that Evie was helping. Esther, the ghost in her room, had a tragic tale that probably did not need to be described in as much detail as it was. (And the ending of Esther’s storyline? Yeah, just creepy.) Evie also helped the newly deceased Dan come to terms with his death, and while that was touching, it also felt kind of irrelevant.
The third thing that seemed out-of-the-blue and not plot-relevant comes later in the book and involves Evie finding out personal information about herself and her family. And I’m not telling you what it is because I do TRY not to put spoilers in my reviews. But the revelation felt very out of left field. Judging by the first chapter of the second book in the series, which is included at the end of the book, I’m guessing that the family secret is going to be a major plot point in the later books. Which I confess has me a little concerned that the story is going to go somewhere bizarre.
As I mentioned, earlier, the romantic conflict involves Evie’s changing feelings for her best friend Seth and her new association with Piers. Best-friend-turned-love-interest and boy-who-may-be-murderer are both compelling love interest tropes, and to have both in a single book leaves me at a total loss as to who I should like better.
Well, really, the proper choice makes itself apparent near the beginning of the story. Which is good in the long run. I really hate investing a lot of time in a series hoping beyond hope that she will choose the right boy, only to have her ride off into the sunset with the other guy at the end. But in Gifted, we even have a chapter from the right boy’s point of view. Ordinarily I might be skeptical of such limited changing of viewpoints, but in this case, I think it’s necessary to keep the audience on the right track.
The other non-romance-related chapter from someone else’s point of view? Yeah, that one is less necessary, and I’m less on board with it. But it’s really short, so I let it go. Mostly.
Will I read more?
I really enjoyed Gifted, meandering narrative tangents aside, so I definitely want to tune in for the next installment. I do have some slight qualms that the story might go somewhere inexplicably odd, but I have enough faith in the author to trust that she will bring the tale around to something good. For now.
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