Grace Divine has always wondered what happened the night her brother Jude wandered home late, covered in his own blood—the night no one in her family will talk about—the night their friend Daniel Kalbi disappeared. Now secrets that have been buried underneath time and religious votives can’t help but come to light—because suddenly Daniel is back, and not only that—but people are going missing.
Everyone knows that Daniel is bad news. Her entire family is reluctant to so much as acknowledge his existence, much less invite them into their lives again. When she sees him, though, Grace can’t help but recognize the boy she once knew… the one she once was madly head-over-heels for. At first the remembering hurts—and she hates him for coming back into their lives and complicating things again. The more she learns about his situation, though, the more she feels like it’s her duty to help Daniel step out of darkness and back into the light. Isn’t that what her name means, after all? Grace?
She has no idea just what it is that Daniel needs saving from, though, nor how awful some monsters can really be. What she really doesn’t realize, though, is that it might end up being her own soul on the line.
I thought this was a fantastic debut book. There were a few things that seemed a little slow and out-of-context, but they all fell into place as the book went along, and while you could definitely see one or two of the twists coming, there were others that took me by complete surprise, and made the reading fun and suspenseful. The book is about religion and redemption, but not in any way preachy, and the themes really are fairly beautiful, more about finding and forgiving yourself than anything, and Despain was not at all afraid of pulling punches when it came to darker subjects.
Maybe the thing I enjoyed most about this book was the delicate balancing going on with the emotions involved. Grace is coming to care for Daniel again, but at the expense of having her beloved brother pulling away from her, and shutting down in ways that she never expected or prepared for, which is more than she’s signed up for. Jude is feeling betrayed on all sides, and turning to near-strangers and desperate measures, that may have more dire consequences than he realizes. Meanwhile, Daniel wants the chance to apologize to Jude, but doesn’t feel completely worthy of it. The brother/sister relationship is sweet, despite the things pulling them apart, and as someone overly-partial to her own brothers, that’s something that I really enjoyed reading—it isn’t very often in fiction that a brother/sister relationship is done so well.
And yeah… I fell for Daniel. I really did. The ending is left very open for a sequel—and set up in such a way that made me really excited at the possibility. I don’t know if Despain is planning one or not, but I would happily snap it up. This book gets a strong A- from me. I acquired it through the magical Davis County library system.