YA Horror Simon Pulse
Hook sentence: “Hey, King. How you feeling?”
Chloe King has been happy to coast through high school’s anonymity but the explanation for her long absence from school (as arranged by her people) is that she had Mono all that time. We feel her horror, her disgrace at this sentence and the snickers in the hallways find us cringing as well. Of all the things Sergei has done to her—this was the worst. She had hoped things would go back to normal but they hadn’t. The Order had been reasonably quiet since she gave up one of her lives to save her mom. She wasn’t really talking to anyone at Firebird right now—her feelings toward Sergei are still unresolved. Brian was missing. And Chloe was still torn between him and Alyec.
About the only one’s life that is still on course as a sophomore is Amy. She’s going to graduate a year early and is planning to go to Fashion Institute.
Chloe has dreams of her murdered sister and wonders about the brother she was told she may have. She isn’t sure how she feels about being the One, so she avoids Firebird. Alyec explains she is different from everyone—even other Mai. Adjusting to her old life may be hard.
Paul and Amy are breaking up and it begins to have its effects on the Trio’s relationship.
Out running on roof tops, in a game of tag, a housecat leads her to a human body, unmoving and broken looking. Brian, stabbed by the Order. She has only one place she can take him: Firebird. She is stunned by their reverence of her. Kim offers to be Chloe’s advisor. The Mai doctor tells her if she doesn’t want to take him to the hospital—his body will have to do most of the healing on its own. Brian kisses her for a really longtime before he passes out. A death sentence for a human.
Later, she meets up with Alyec and kisses him on the cheek because nothing else feels right then. She tells him about Brian—omitting kiss. Afterwards, she feels like someone’s following her then gets a call from Sergei. He arranges a meeting about Brian.
There is no sign of toxic shock yet for Brian. An awkward meeting to transfer leadership to Chloe takes place where she suggests he keep the business part and let her be the Spiritual Leader. The Pride is not a democracy, he says.
Alyec and Amy share a moment which makes Chloe annoyed. Alyec admits he’s a flirt, it comes with the purchase. He calls her on Brian. She tells him she has to think and goes home. She finds Xavier is alive and well. He says he was in a coma and then he just woke up on Oct. 19th—the day Chloe died for the second time. Kim says she’s lifting the curse by giving her life for a human. Brian and her catch up and kiss.
At a party her mom throws to get to know her friends better, Chloe breaks down about everything. Alyec comforts. She tells him she doesn’t want them together right now. He agrees. She tells him someone’s following her. Kim says she thought she heard someone approaching the house but no one was there.
Sergei asks her to meet him at an old abandoned theater, he has info on her dad. He traps her with the Rogue. The Rogue and the Order don’t want any mystical leaders who might unite humans and the Mai. The Rogue says he’s wrong. He hates all Mai. He and Sergei fight. Sergei dies. Police burst into the room while Rogue fighting Chloe and both take off their separate ways.
Chloe curses herself for not having come up with a plan for her friends to follow. She realizes she must assume leadership. She calls Brian’s father and offers him a truce. He says no.
The Order hasn’t been organized so well since her death and now the Mai will be defenseless with their leader down. She hangs up asking him how his son is. She calls police and tells them about fight, omitting herself.
The police uncover the many deaths Sergei has been responsible for, from his native Russia to the U.S. Chloe allows her people to absorb the shock that he was a traitor and a murderer even as she puts Igor in charge of the real estate part of Firebird and Olga as the CEO. She will lead her people to peace. Starting with following the country they live in, rules. Alyec roars his approval as do others. Someone is missing from the meeting. Later, she learns it is Dimitri and that he killed a member of the Order in retaliation.
Chloe calls Whitney and demands he and his cronies stand down. She warns they have his son. Taking everyone, including humans with her, she tells everyone that Mai and humans can be together to the shock of Amy. Alyec grabs Amy and kisses her long and hard. Richard is the one Dimitri killed. Paul breaks in with news of the Rogue’s capture and that he’s to be committed for his long line of murders.
The Order wants one more life to even the balance. Dimitri offers but Chloe says no. It’s to be hers—
These books really rocked. They were SO different from the TV show, but I loved both. If health issues hadn’t kept me from moving faster, this would’ve been a quick series read. I enjoyed the characters, the setting, learning about the Mai. And usually, I don’t change my mind about who a character should end up with, but this book did that for me. The only thing that bothered me were there were a few loose ends: the hinting of a brother (which I was so sure was going to be Alyec. Lol.), and the mystery surrounding her adoptive father. Neither were explained but continually hinted at from beginning to end. Is there to be another book in the future? I don’t know. I would revisit the characters if there were. It was a pleasure to watch Chloe go from a clueless high school student to a strong leader of a dying race. Her character arc and growth were amazing. I was very satisfied with this series and would read more books by Liz Braswell (who also writes as Celia Thompson).