Note: this review is based on an ARC I received from the publisher
Premise: Dru Anderson knows all about scary creatures like werewulfen, suckers, gator-spirits, chupacabras, ghosts, and zombies and she's helped her dad track and kill a few. It's a rough life but Dru has been doing this since her grandmother died and her dad came to take her with him. They've moved from one town to the next while tracking down the next supernatural target. Now Dru is sixteen and the latest town is Foley, South Dakota. They've been here for a very short time, still unpacked (though they never unpack anymore), when one night Dru's dad goes out after something doesn't come back the next morning. Dru knows something horrible has happened - her gifts warn her in her dreams and it isn't long before she's forced into battling creatures by herself. An unexpected ally appears in a schoolmate - goth boy Graves has taken an interest in Dru and offers his help despite not knowing anything about the trouble she's in. Both of them are alone in the world until that point, but things get further complicated when Christophe shows up talking about the Kouroi and telling Dru she's more special than she thinks.
My Thoughts: This is the first young adult book by Lili St. Crow. She's also written adult books like the Dante Valentine series, the Jill Kismet series and others.
I've read a couple of books into the Dante Valentine series and Dante to me is a really tough kind of character and once I read some of her past I understood where her demons were coming from. I think it's Lili St. Crow's speciality to create strong women characters because Dru also has some elements of this toughness in her. She's also realistic. Dru has been through a lot and her coping with her father's death was dealt with in a reasonable way. Dru has to fall apart a little bit, and that's when Graves finds her. She's in shock, but she rallies because her life is in danger, and part of her coping mechanism is hearing her father's voice pushing her on to survive. I prefer having a main character like this, especially since she's our narrator.
Graves too is not without his depths. To Dru he first he came off as naive, but as she gets to know him she learns he's smarter and more resilient than she'd expected. I'm always happy (um, possibly biased) to see half-asian characters in books so he's already a positive addition to the book there, but his sense of humor in scary situations also endeared me to him. I hope in the next book we can learn a bit more about his back story (and Dru's).
Lots of action is going on as Dru and Graves run into supernatural creatures I was not familiar with along with some familiar ones (werewolves, vampires, zombies) with their own special twist. The zombie scene was particularly nerve wracking and brought to mind those horror movies where you have to watch through your hands! But maybe I'm the only chicken who does that.
It's a sensory read - for example, weather is one of the things I found very well described. It's winter in the Dakotas, and the descriptions of the cold and the snow and ice in a small town were prevalent throughout the book. Boy, am I glad it's spring now because St. Crow's descriptions took me to a place with bad winter storms and a hushed world covered in white.
Overall: If you want a recommendation for a young adult urban fantasy, I'd put this on the list. It has a serious, believable teen as a protagonist and the creatures that roam around in this book are really creepy. It's refreshing to read an urban fantasy aimed at teens that doesn't have a high school cliche as a main character because I don't recall knowing anyone really like that. Dru on the other hand is tough, but she's also vulnerable and scared and thinks that she's just a kid, and she is believable. This is the start to a very promising series.
Strange Angels is available May 14th.
Betrayals (book 2) is available November 17th (this date I'm not 100% sure of)
Originally posted on janicu.vox.com