Review courtesy of Dark Faerie Tales.
Quick & Dirty: This was a unique story filled with great characters, an engaging plot, and sweet romance. I would highly recommend this book to anyone that likes fun clean paranormal books.
Opening Sentence: "Is it ready now?" Dylan asked for the tenth time in twenty minutes.
Maggie has been a Soul Collector for the last 100 years. There's no denying that Maggie is the best and she is hoping that she will soon be promoted to The Guard. The Guard were an elite group of souls. Soldiers that protected humans and participated in top secret missions, earning collective respect from everyone in the After. To prove that she is a fully capable of being a guard she has to help them find a missing soul, but something goes terribly wrong and Maggie gets stuck inside a human body, a place she hasn't been in a long time.
Maggie has taken over Ally's body and she is a very important descendant of the Caelestium. The Caelestium are the original creatures of the after realm and many centuries ago they mated with humans to create the Prognatum. There are only a few Prognatum's left and they are closely watched by the guard until they turn 18, at which time they go through a transformation and join the Guard as special operatives for the Caelestium. Ally's birthday is only a few days away and if they aren't able to reunite her body and her soul by that time, Ally's soul may be lost forever. Maggie doesn't have any memories of her past life so being human is a whole new thing to her. As she tries to save Ally's soul, old memories start to surface and Maggie's not sure if she is ready to remember her past. Old enemies are making an appearance as well and everyone Maggie cares about is in danger and time is running out for Ally.
I absolutely loved Maggie. She is a fun, courageous girl that is very independent. She definitely has a mind of her own and when she sets her sights on something she does everything she can to achieve it. She is a very caring person, and a very loyal friend. Throughout the book you get to see images of her past and not all of it is pretty. But the more you learn about her the more interesting she became as a character. I really enjoyed getting to know her and I connected with her so easily. I can't wait to read more of her story.
Ally is your typical mean girl. Maggie see glimpses of her memories throughout the book and you get a pretty good image of what Ally was like as a person. She is a gorgeous popular girl and she isn't really a very nice person. I have to be honest, I am not usually a fan of the whole popular mean girl image most of the time, but it really worked for me in Ally's case. Maggie is really quite the opposite of Ally and it's fun to see how Maggie deals with Ally's life. You don't get to know a lot about Ally, so I hope that we get to see more of her in the next book.
Cooper has been Ally's guard her whole life. He was specially chosen to protect and watch over her until she turned 18. He is very distraught when her soul is stolen and he does everything in his power to try and get it back, but he also has to watch over her body and subsequently Maggie as well. As Maggie gets to know Cooper well she finds that she is pretty attracted to him. Cooper has always had a soft spot for Ally and over the years he came to really care for her, but with Maggie in her body he starts to develop feeling for Maggie as well. I totally fell head over heels for Cooper. I think he is so cute and I am totally cheering for him and Maggie.
Next we have the mysterious Jackson. Maggie first meets him when she is still just a Soul and she feels an immediate connection with him. She doesn't know how she knows him but he seems very familiar to her. Jackson also happens to be a Shadowed -- the enemy to the Souls. The Shadowed are clans made up of souls who were influenced by the Caeleste that crossed over many years ago. Since they are unable to return to the After, they gain their strength by feeding from the life force of human souls. Maggie knows that she should fear Jackson, but she can't seem to be able to stay away from him. You don't get to learn a lot about Jackson and his life in this book, but I am pretty sure he is going to be in the next one a lot more and I am really excited about that. I like Jackson, he is mysterious and a total hottie. He also really seems to care about Maggie and I can't wait to get to know him better.
I really loved this book. From the first page I was totally hooked and couldn't put it down until I was finished. I loved all the characters, they were really well developed and fun to get to know. The plot was very engaging and had some twists and surprises that I definitely wasn't expecting. There isn't a lot of romance in this book, but the little there was, was very cute and promising for future books. The idea for this story was unique and different from anything else I have ever read. I enjoyed Katlyn's writing and I am really surprised that this is her debut novel. While there isn't a cliffhanger at the end of this book, which I appreciated, I still can't wait to see what happens next. I would highly recommend this book to anyone that enjoys clean fun YA Paranormal books, it will not disappoint.
Full Disclosure - Katlyn is my friend. I'm thrilled to include her debut book on Dark Faerie Tales. I sent a copy of her book to Bridget because I wanted our readers to have another opinion. I didn't want anyone to think that my impressions about Soul Taken were biased.
Soul Taken was a complete surprise for me to read. In fact, I knew nothing about it until Katlyn told me that she had landed a book deal with Harlequin/Carina. I was captivated from the first few pages. The first thing that really stood out to me was the writing. Duncan delivered on show vs. tell, which isn't an easy thing to do. It was so easy for me to picture the events as they unfolded. The reader is instantly thrown into Maggie's engaging world as a Soul Collector and her latest mission to find a missing soul. I don't want to give too much away since Bridget goes into a fair bit of character and story plot-points, but I will say that you are in for a bit of originality with this story.
I really enjoyed Maggie as a character. She is relatable in so many ways. Her progression and character development throughout the story is believable and I found myself sympathizing with her situation. If I had to pick a boy that I like the most for Maggie, I'm going with Jackson hands down. He's a guy that I would want to get to know. I'm hoping that the readers will be treated to a sort of slow burn intensity that unfolds between him and Maggie. Intensity that reveals more and more about him, The Shadowed and if he's the "right" amount of bad for Maggie. I really enjoy swoony boys and breathless romance in my YA reads, so I hope Duncan delivers more on that front.
Overall, I'm pleased to say that Duncan successfully pens a captivating debut with Soul Taken. The story manages to entertain the reader with a unique concept and strong characters. I loved the feeling that I got when an element of surprise or a twist was thrown from one corner and I was looking around the next corner for the answer. All of the important elements that I needed to enjoy the story are present. The characters are entertaining and fun, the plot intrigued me with some twists and turns, and the pacing of the story was spot on.
Looking forward to more of Duncan's work.
FTC Advisory: Carina UK provided me with a copy of Soul Taken. No goody bags, sponsorships, "material connections," or bribes were exchanged for my review.