My Soul to Keepdeals with the issue of drug abuse, but if you’re worried it will be a preachy Very Special Episode type of story, worry no more. Rachel Vincent raises the book above that level — both by allowing the damage to strike very close to home for Kaylee and by placing the issue in an enthralling plot — so that it never feels like a simplistic “drugs are bad, mmmkay” fable.
In My Soul to Save, Vincent introduced readers to Demon’s Breath, a sought-after intoxicant among the denizens of the Netherworld. Kaylee now emerges from her month-long grounding to find that someone has brought Demon’s Breath to her high school and that several of her acquaintances are using it. And for human kids, using Demon’s Breath is a nearly inevitable ticket to insanity or death. Then, Vincent makes terrific use of a tiny, forgettable detail from book two and puts Kaylee through a wrenching betrayal. Now she has to deal with the repercussions of that betrayal while thwarting a hellion’s sinister designs.
The human (and bean sidhe) characters have believable shades of gray that inspire compassion even when their behavior is reprehensible. For example, one Demon’s Breath user became addicted by accident; that initial event was not his fault at all. Yet he is still morally culpable for what he did after that to feed the addiction. As for the hellion, he’s horrifying; My Soul to Keep features so many chilling ways a hellion can destroy lives and relationships.
Kaylee shows admirable strength at the novel’s end; I’m reminded of Albus Dumbledore’s words about the courage it takes to stand up to one’s friends. I am so tired of wilting heroines and it’s so gratifying to see one who calls people on their bad behavior and stands up for her own needs.
This ending leaves the Soul Screamers series in an uncertain place — but at the same time it’s blown wide open, with so many interesting directions Vincent could take it. I had been slightly disappointed in My Soul to Save and unsure whether to continue — but after My Soul to Keep, I’m eagerly along for the ride.
Soul Screamers — (2009-2013) Young adult. My Soul to Lose is a free prequel novella in ebook format. Reaper is a novella available on Kindle or audio. Publisher: She doesn’t see dead people, but… She senses when someone near her is about to die. And when that happens, a force beyond her control compels her to scream bloody murder. Literally. Kaylee just wants to enjoy having caught the attention of the hottest guy in school. But a normal date is hard to come by when Nash seems to know more about the need to scream than she does. And when classmates start dropping dead for no apparent reason, only Kaylee knows who’ll be next… SOUL SCREAMERS The last thing you hear before you die…