One of the more popular trends of Y.A. fantasy in recent years is the urban-fantasy novel. “Twilight” comes to mind, as well as The Mortal Instruments series by Cassandra Clare and the Heir series by Cinda Williams Chima. The latter two are on my list of all-time favorites, and it seems G. P. Ching will be joining the rankings as well with “The Soulkeepers.”
From the first line — “Death lived up to Jacob’s expectations” — Ching grabs her audience. It’s descriptive; the characters have a lot of depth and quirks that makes them interesting; and it’s paced to keep the reader from getting bored while they wait for more action, although slow enough that it took me a few days to plow through on the Kindle (although it wasn’t much longer than some of the other books I’ve read recently in a matter of hours).
High points of the book:
— The writing style: Descriptive and full of nuances that make it just a beautiful style to read.
— Interesting characters, most especially Dr. Silva, who is Jacob’s Helper and teacher. You don’t know what exactly Dr. Silva is until the end of the book, but she’s an interesting, quirky character, who just seems completely off. And the more Jacob questions things about her, the more the reader tries to puzzle together what she is.
— The weaving of religious elements into a world of fantasy, but still manages to ‘keep the faith.’ The plot worked together some very specific passages of the Bible, and managed to make them work for the story, the plotline and for the alternate universe Ching created. It gives the reader a familiar connection to the story, and the literature I love the most, has a connecting point to which the reader can relate.
I did have some unanswered questions, however, that weren’t exactly left hanging, but not entirely resolved at the conclusion of the novel.
— At one point, Uncle John mentions ‘the worst thing he’s ever done.’ And later, Jacob’s cousin tells him rather coldly why they had never met before, and I had the feeling that it was something that Jacob wanted to confront John about, but never did. There were some other elements that made me believe that her hatred of Jacob wasn’t because of the family business and a 150-year-old will. It made me wonder if John was aware of what Jacob was, and whether it was the real reason Jacob was there. However, the question was never fully answered for me.
— I’m still curious to know what Malini is, but I think that is something that Ching might explore in a later novel.
— I also wanted to know why the entire town was full of such bigotry, and why no one said anything about it. I could tell the adults weren’t fond of the level in which it ran with the teenagers of Paris, but also throughout the entire Laudner family with the exception of John. I felt the explanation for the Laudner response didn’t quite cover it. It might be just how the small town is – like it was lost in a time warp – but for someone like me, who has lived abroad and experienced diverse cultures, it was really hard for me to grasp the narrow-minded perspectives of these people. It made me feel like I was missing something.
Check out “The Soulkeepers” by G. P. Ching. It’s definitely worth it.