Kaylee gets premonitions when someone is about to die--premonitions in the form of an uncontrollable urge to scream. She thinks she's losing her mind, but in truth she's a bean sidhe, or banshee. When her pretty young classmates start dropping dead for no reason, Kaylee learns the truth behind her heritage from Nash, the hottest guy in school, who's also bean sidhe. The pair must stop whoever it is that is taking the souls of girls before their time.
This is the first book I've read of the new Harlequin Teen imprint. I must say I was thrilled when I heard Harlequin was launching this imprint as I've always had a soft spot for the Mills & Boon paperbacks. At the end of my degree my nanna happened to have a big shopping bag full of them, mostly retro, which she loaned to me, and after all my exams the little paperbacks were a delight. Most of them. Some were awful. But the great thing about M&B is there's so many of them you can pick and choose the sort of story you're in the mood for. I also loved that the books got passed around the neighbourhood and all the local ladies who'd read them had put their initials on the inside cover so they didn't mistakenly read them twice. One of my life writing goals is to write a M&B and get it published. I've tried it once (after reading said paperbacks) and was asked to submit the manuscript based on the synopsis. I sent in but alas! It was not to be. My alpha male wasn't alpha enough I think. He was an archaeologist and resembled Giles from Buffy more than Fabio. What can I say. Giles is alpha to me!
But back to My Soul to Take. I really liked the fact that this book was about bean sidhes. I'm going to favour paranormal books with unusual paranormal aspects from now on. I'll always love my dear vampires and werewolves, but it's time to branch out. And there were grim reapers in this book! Lots of them, as in that fantastic television show Dead Like Me that went for one season (cry!) and that no one else has heard about in Australia (double cry!). It treats the afterlife as just another rat race and is very funny, but also very sad.
The lore behind bean sidhes in My Soul to Take is developed, as is the rest of the supernatural world. Vincent just scratches the surface of the nasties as this is book one and I'm sure she'll go deeper into it in subsequent books.
This is an interesting and unusual paranormal story, but on the downside the characters were difficult to warm to--especially Kaylee herself. She hates on herself, which dismays me. She has little sense of humour and always expects the worst to happen. This isn't so bad in itself; after all, her life has been no cherry. But combined with the gender roles behind Vincent's bean sidhe lore, and alarm bells started going off. The roles go something like this: female bean sidhes are uncontrollable, hysterical screamers; male bean sidhes have Influence (yes, it's capitalised in the book), which they use calm the hysterical bean sidhes. I mean, she's a bean sidhe, for heaven's sake. She's supposed to scream! Again, not so bad in itself, but these roles end up defining Kaylee and Nash's relationship: she becomes clingy and needy and is always looking to him before she speaks. She even asks permission to speak on several occasions. In this day and age this is a book crime in my opinion, irresponsible on the part of author and editor and an AUTOMATIC FAIL.
My Soul to Take is a light, enjoyable read badly in need of a gender role overhaul.