My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Seventeen year old Ree McKenna has three goals: get through high school, convince her crush she is more than his best friend’s little sister, and save money for college. Fate, though, has other plans for her. After the untimely death of her older brother, Ree is haunted by dreadful nightmares and terrifying visions. To make matters worse, Ree has started to suspect that something dangerous is stalking her from the shadows.
A night full of frightening surprises leaves Ree with unsettling news. Gifted by the gods with unusual powers, she must devote herself to a battle that could very well lead to not only her death, but the demise of everyone she knows and loves. After all, Ree is the only mortal standing between the Earth and utter darkness.
Set in Savannah, Ga, Mortal Obligation is the first book of The Dark Betrayal Trilogy.
Okay, I have to say this from the outset - it's kind of like - the elephant in the room. There has been an explosion of paranormal fiction in the young adult market over the past few years to the point where, for me now, it's almost too much.
That said, I am still a huge sucker for the genre, in part because of my total Buffy fandom which still resonates from years ago (YES I ADMIT IT - I AM A BUFFY FANBOY) but also because, every now and then, a book will come along that offers the genre something completely fresh and engaging. It may not be totally obvious what that 'something' is at first look but it's there and it grabs you right away.
Georgia native, author Nichole Chase.
And this is indeed the case with author Nichole Chase's debut "Mortal Obligation". This first book in the Dark Betrayal triology (as evidenced by the title) is a considerable achievement for Nichole because she has in a number of subtle ways, introduced a resounding freshness and character to the genre which I think has been lacking in a lot of other titles of late.
Nichole Chase introduces us to Ree McKenna, a earnest and popular 17 year old at a cross road that is familiar to many of us. Approaching the end of high school she is looking towards a college future and has a creative mind and heart that will see her go far. Already, she has an artistic flair that befits someone much older and her job in an antiques shop no doubt fuels her love for all things arty. Unlike a lot of protagonists, Ree is less a loner and engages well within her peer group. She's popular and independent yet she is imbued with just the right amount of vulnerability that lends weight to the romantic threads of the story. In my mind Ree is the whole package, a gutsy young woman who is worldly and wise.
And because of the strength of Nichole's protagonist, Mortal Obligation's plot moves crackingly along. Part mystery, part thriller, part romance, the story follows Ree as she is forced into a potentially world ending battle with the Dark Ones - a group of evil Vampires who are obsessed with enslaving humanity. Balancing the everyday real world with the world of fantasy, good verses evil struggle and mythic ethos is a challenge that Nichole Chase has mastered in spades. Her mythic creation draws upon familiar thematic derivatives but she has molded them so attractively that - again - there is freshness and originality that one cannot help being drawn to. Nichole has a innate sense of tension, romance and humour and she taps into the reader's emotions to draw out the adrenaline, the warmth and the laughs when it is required. I am always drawn to books that encourage me to feel the story rather than be a passive observer of it and in this case, Mortal Obligation is no exception.
Settings and mood are also a strength of Mortal Obligation and this is no doubt informed by the fact that Nichole Chase herself resides in Georgia - the setting for the novel. Thus she has been able to capture a genuine feel for place, which clearly translates well onto the page. Georgia has featured prominently in many books and films that I have sat down with and I freely admit to being a fan of that most southern of icons. In Mortal Obligation, Nichole Chase adds another facet to my overall impression and I like it's personal feel. It's probably the most real of any impression I've experienced.
As the first book in a triology, Nichole has created characters and situations in Mortal Obligation that are attractive and emotive. There is modern coolness, theatrical tension and old school romance that that makes you root for the characters. Thus, I look forward to subsequent entries into this series with gusto.
Mortal Obligation with leave you wanting for more - even before you have turned the last page.
ABOUT NICHOLE CHASE: Savannah, Ga. native Nichole credits sucking badly at maths for her emergence as one of this year's most exciting YA authors. According to Nichole herself - "
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