Series: Dead Things #1
Author: Martina McAtee
Release Date: August 2015
Format: Personal Purchase
Pages: 510 per Goodreads
17 year old Ember Denning has made an art of isolating herself. She prefers the dead. She spends her days skipping school in old cemeteries and her nights hiding from her alcoholic father at the funeral home where she works. When her own father dies, Ember learns her whole life is a lie. Standing in the cemetery that’s been her sanctuary, she’s threatened by the most beautiful boy she’s ever seen and rescued by two people who claim to be her family. They say she’s special, that she has a supernatural gift like them…they just don’t know exactly what it is.
They take her to a small Florida town, where Ember’s life takes a turn for the weird. She’s living with her reaper cousins, an orphaned werewolf pack, a faery and a human genius. Ember’s powers are growing stronger, morphing into something bigger than anything anybody anticipated. Ember has questions but nobody has answers. Nobody knows what she is. They only know her mysterious magical gift is trying to kill them and that beautiful dangerous boy from the cemetery may be the only thing standing between her and death.
As Ember’s talents are revealed so are the secrets her father hid and those in power who would seek to destroy her. What’s worse, saving Ember has put her cousins in danger and turned her friend’s lives upside down. Ember must learn to embrace her magic or risk losing the family she’s pieced together.
I got this book on Amazon during some promotion when it was free. I am so glad that I did, because I absolutely loved it. Loved it enough that I’ve already purchased and started reading book two. Children Shouldn’t Play With Dead Things is a bit over 500 pages, and for this urban fantasy, I think that is perfect. It gave the book enough space to really explore everything that happens, and not just gloss over it. This is kind of a YA book, although it doesn’t feel like it. The main characters are 17, but they definitely aren’t dealing with normal 17 year old issues.
So Ember just lost her father, whom she wasn’t terribly close to. Not at all actually. In the little bit that she speaks of him, I get the impression that it was a verbally abusive relationship in both directions. Anyway, dear old dad’s death seemed to be a catalyst for a ton of changes in Ember’s life. I don’t want to give too much away, but suffice it to say, this girl’s entire world changes in the blink of an eye.
Ember finds out she is a reaper. A reaper with reanimator abilities. She also finds out she has cousins that are twins, who are also reapers (a banshee reaper and a collector reaper). These new family members live within a mixed supernatural pack and they immediately bring her in as one of her own. You’d think that oh this is happy times now, but that is so not the case.
Mix in a sexy soul eater named Mace, and a slew of other vibrant characters and you’ve got quite the story. This book is told from multiple points of view. You get Ember, of course. Each of her cousins, Kai and Tristin. And also Mace, the soul eater. It wasn’t hard to follow, because each chapter is labeled whose pov it is. I really found it to help round out all of the story, and it was great to see their very different perspectives on everything.
This author is new to me, but I love her writing style. Everything felt very fluid and I found myself sneaking in reading time when I shouldn’t have been. The story was that good. She’s written this entire supernatural community in Belle Haven that has everything from reapers, shifters, wizards and witches, to fae and revenants and everything you could think of. But to her credit, it doesn’t feel overwhelming. Everything feels just right.
With this book being so long, there is a fair amount that happens to all of the characters. I love that there is not just a smidge of action, then a climax, and then it’s done. Nope, this book delivers over and over. If you are into supernatural or YA, then I’d definitely say give this a try. I’ve been kind of out of the paranormal stuff for a while, having lost interest, but Children Shouldn’t Play With Dead Things grabbed it back within a few pages.