Monday, September 13, 2010

Review: Firespell by Chloe Neill

Book: Firespell (Chloe Neill)
Stand-Alone or Series:  Series,The Dark Elite #1

Pages: 246
Genre: Young Adult
Description (From Goodreads):
 As the new girl at the elite St. Sophia’s boarding school, Lily Parker thinks her classmates are the most monstrous things she’ll have to face…

When Lily’s guardians decided to send her away to a fancy boarding school in Chicago, she was shocked. So was St. Sophia’s. Lily’s ultra-rich brat pack classmates think Lily should be the punchline to every joke, and on top of that, she’s hearing strange noises and seeing bizarre things in the shadows of the creepy building.

The only thing keeping her sane is her roommate, Scout, but even Scout’s a little weird—she keeps disappearing late at night and won’t tell Lily where she’s been. But when a prank leaves Lily trapped in the catacombs beneath the school, Lily finds Scout running from a real monster.

Scout’s a member of a splinter group of rebel teens with unique magical talents, who’ve sworn to protect the city against demons, vampires, and Reapers, magic users who’ve been corrupted by their power. And when Lily finds herself in the line of a firespell, Scout tells her the truth about her secret life, even though Lily has no powers of her own—at least none that she’s discovered yet… 
I was already a big Chloe Neill fan (author of the Chicagoland Vampire Books) and Firespell just reinforced my love. Although the novel is a short one, Firespell is rich with well developed characters, plot and settings. 

Neill once again paints a vivid world with her writing. Her descriptions of everything in Lily's world are fabulous, whether it be the Gossip Girl-esque boarding school Queen Bees or the creepy world of Underground Chicago. Lily's school, St. Sophia's is also wonderfully depicted - it is an old convent located on Erie Street in the heart of downtown. The school definitely has the creepy vibe going, with stone floors, cold decor and a twisting labyrinth of a floor plan. It is exactly the kind of place you would expect monsters to lurk.

The characters are also given the same wonderful, descriptive treatment. I was in love with them all from the start. Lily, our protagonist, snarky, vibrant, teen with fabulous fashion sense. She often rocks vintage looks, in contrast to the "army of plaid" as Lily puts it, that is the student body of St. Sophia's. She is a down to earth girl, who doesn't exactly fit in with majority of the girls at the school, save Scout and Lesley. She is from up-state New York and out of place in her Chuck Taylor's and faded Ramones t-shirts. Scout, who quickly becomes Lily's BFF, immediately became my favorite. She is a rebel, complete with nose ring and quirky habits, and mortal enemies with the the school Queen - Veronica. You also quickly learn that Scout is hiding something, which the book description says, so I don't feel too guilty about saying it. Scout is a spellbinder and a member of an Elite teen group of Superheroes. Basically this chick is awesome. I love the two of them together - they make a great sassy duo. I also love their vintage/old school interests. They are not cookie cutter characters; they have a unique flavor. Scout loves comic books and Queen (her text message tone is the Flash Gorden theme)and makes references to the epic 80's movie (which is based in Chicago), Ferris Bueller. Like I stated before, Lily often rocks vintage clothes, which include bright yellow boots. it is nice to see characters that embrace their differences and show that it's cool to be yourself. Scout makes statements of this sort throughout the book - she is all about being true to herself.
Scout takes Lily under her wing and somewhat by accident, introduces Lily into her world. Here Lily meets and befriends two members of Scout's group, Michael and Jason. Let the swooning begin. It quickly becomes apparent, which boy belongs with which girl - Michael with Scout and Lily with dreamy Jason. I am really interested to see how these perspective relationships develop - hopefully Scout will get over her denial and accept her feelings for Michael. One can hope, right?

Although, I enjoyed this book, I did have one issue with it. The book was a bit slow to take off. The real action doesn't begin until the second half of the book, and while the first half was interesting, it was not particularly eventful. I expected the action to begin sooner, especially with how much of the plot the book's description gives away. However, I don't want you to think this book was boring, it was the exact opposite. Even thought the action was slow to begin, I never found myself bored with the book.

Firespell was a great start to a new series. Neill doe a fabulous job crafting Lily's world and creating a mysterious, exciting plot that will keep readers interested in books to come. There are plenty of questions left unanswered and plenty of places for the plot to take us in future books, and I am excited to read book two, Hexbound - which comes out in January of 2011.

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