Undertow: Book Review

Eila has her world turned upside down in an instant. Suddenly nothing and nobody is what they seem. Worse still is that she doesn't know what is coming for her or why.

Title: Undertow
Series: Undertow : 1
Author: K.R. Conway
ISBN: 9780989776356          Language: English

Classification: Fiction
Type: YA urban fantasy
Themes: supernatural, historical connections, family

What's it about?
Eila Walker finds herself being gifted a mansion that was once owned by a long-dead ancestor. Afraid she won't fit in having moved from Kansas to Cape Cod she soon finds herself with an interesting slew of friends. But having a crush on the wrong guy could possibly prove fatal for Eila and one night turns from fun to nightmare as she is pushed into the icy waters. She will need to have a fast history lesson if she is to preserve herself and others from the hidden dangers.

The text is written in first person and does a good job of being inside Eila's head. There are a range of characters that are different but really easy to relate to and like. Plot-wise there was an awful lot of mystery going on especially in the first half of the book.

A couple of cliches and sterotyped characters. Possibly a little longer than it should have been.

My Thoughts
I'll be honest - it's taken me several weeks to read this book from start to finish. Unfortunately a lack of time to sit with my Kindle to read marred me getting into the story in the beginning - however if it is any indication of the book - I just polished off 80% in about 4 hours of reading time.

"...I don't want to be too picky about Eila as I am thinking that the author is leaving room for her to grow more..."

I'll start with the characters because they are such an important element for YA novels. Eila switches between a brave and defiant heroine to being rescued as a damsel in distress. The situations probably do explain this a bit (heaven knows if I'd had some soak my only clothes in water and leave me naked with a towel in the changeroom in high school I too would have become a simpering damsel - which is probably why changerooms envoke fear into me even to this day). Being that this is the first in the series though I don't want to be too picky about Eila as I am thinking that the author is leaving room for her to grow more; she's not coming into the story as a seasoned Anita Blake type character (for the record I would also say that I would recommend that particular series for older readers due to content) she's younger and has no clue what's going on for the first half of the book...bit like the avid reader.

I will say I had a particular fondness for MJ. I don't know but there was something rather likeable about him from his unique talent, to his jovial and yet subtle sarcastic ways. Yes, I think he was my favourite character of the lot.

Okay, I did mention about stereotypes and cliches and my main issue here was with the characters. For the record though I am a 30-something reading this book and I will say that my perception of this may be disputed by many a teenage girl - perhaps even myself at 15! I did find that there were too many good looking blokes around Eila - and her falling almost immediately in love with one - well, I was intrigued but I'm going to admit that her love interest, Raef, was my least liked character - I liked Kian more. Nikki was the other character that too me was a little cliche as the blonde, nasty, cheerleader - but on the flipside I'm curious as to where that character will head to in the next book as well.

Plot-wise this book is not for the faint hearted. Admittedly, I felt like a bit of a detective trying to piece the clues together until a large chunk of the secret is revealed half way through. I thought it odd with so much being revealed and thought the book may "die-in-the-water" (no pun intended if you've read the book) but the pace picked up surprisingly well and admittedly I ignored my other work so I could finish the book to find out what was going to happen.

"I do have a few unanswered questions about a few things..."

The ideas interwined in this book were original and refreshing (considering I am halfway through writing a review of a book I read yesterday which...well originality was lacking). This is not a book that is looking to emulate anything out there. The Maris and the Lanterra clans are quite fascinating and I am keen to learn more about their history given what has so far been revealed. I do have a few unanswered questions about a few things but again my gut is telling me this is a deliberate move of the author's. The sprinkling of unanswered questions of the past really reminded me of how Y.S. Lee also managed to navigate leaving unanswered questions in her Mary Quinn series.

Also of note is the great twist at the end - I did not see that one coming - but of course if you want to know about it you'll have to read it yourself.

This is a book that is going to appeal to teenage girls up to the early-20s (I think some of us start getting a bit cynical about that age then). It is definitely far more interesting and engaging than most books out there in this genre and I'm curious to read on in book 2. Overall, a great book of intrigue suitable for any high school library.

Special thanks to the author, K.R. Conway, for providing me with a free copy of the book.

1 comment

  1. Ooh this one sounds good. I don’t mind if my hunk is too good looking for his own good LOL! Are there more books out or are they still being written?