Author: Lani Woodland
Publisher: Pendrell Publishing
May Contain Spoilers
Sixteen-year-old Yara Silva has always known that ghosts walk alongside the living. Her grandma, like the other females in her family, is a Waker, someone who can see and communicate with ghosts. Yara grew up watching her grandmother taunted and scorned for this unusual ability and doesn’t want that to be her future. She has been dreading the day when she too would see ghosts, and is relieved that the usually dominant Waker gene seems to have skipped her, letting her live a normal teenage life. However, all that changes for Yara on her first day at her elite boarding school when she discovers the gene was only lying dormant. She witnesses a dark mist attack Brent, a handsome fellow student, and rushes to his rescue. Her act of heroism draws the mist’s attention, and the dark spirit begins stalking her. Yara finds herself entrenched in a sixty-year-old curse that haunts the school, threatening not only her life, but the lives of her closest friends as well. Yara soon realizes that the past she was trying to put behind her isn’t going to go quietly.
Though I thought that the pacing could have been a bit smoother, I found Intrinsical an interesting read. It reminded me of an old school gothic romance, with a character driven storyline. There is tension and suspense in abundance, but Yara’s strong personality moves the plot forward. As she is forced to accept what she is, she finds determination and confidence, but this is not an easy achievement for her. She has spent most of her young life afraid of people judging her, and this fear defines her identity for herself. She lets the fear of being branded by outsiders to rule her life, and almost allows it to kill her.
Yara’s Brazilian grandmother is a Waker. She can see and communicate with spirits. This gets her labeled a nutcase, and though Yara loves her, she is also embarrassed by her. As a result, Yara refuses to have anything to do with spirits of the dead. She ignores her grandmother when she tries to teach her about the gift, which manifests in the women in the family. Yara has even convinced herself that the ability to see ghosts has skipped her. More than anything, she wants to be normal, and to her, seeing ghosts is about the worst thing that could happen to her.
Yara does a pretty good job of pretending to be normal, until she enrolls at Pendrell, an exclusive boarding school. Her parents are out of the country working, and Yara didn’t want to go with them, so off she heads, with her best friend, Cherie, to a school steeped in mystery. It was actually Cherie’s wish to attend the school, because, unlike her friend, Cherie is all about the supernatural. Pendrell is supposed to be cursed, with students dying suddenly and very mysteriously, and she is determined to find out why these tragedies are occurring. The girls quickly make friends with Steve and Brent, two boys at the school, and quicker than you can say “Boo!” they are embroiled in danger as the curse raises its ugly head, claiming another victim and putting them all in harm’s way.
Despite the plot being a bit too convenient, I liked the creepy setting. I also liked the characters, especially Cherie. She gives Yara a much need kick in the pants several times, and she can also roll with the punches like nobody’s business. What’s that? You see a ghost? Cool! Cherie embraces the occult where Yara shuns it, and it’s her friend’s enthusiasm and acceptance of ghosts that saves Yara’s hide. Cherie is an unsung hero, and she deserves props. Lots of them.
Yara is much more level headed and reserved, until you get her angry. Then watch out. She doesn’t take no for an answer, and she never gives up, traits I always admire in a protagonist. I enjoyed reading along as she works her way through the dangers that threaten her, and as she finally accepts who she is. That’s when she can finally get down to business; after finally embracing what she’s capable of doing, there is nothing that can stop her from saving the people she loves from danger.
I don’t want to give away much of the plot, because the strength of the book comes from Yara slowly unraveling the mystery surrounding the Pendrell curse. The pacing is occasionally too leisurely, but just when my attention started to wander, events began careening forward, pulling me along to the adrenaline-laced conclusion. The ending is satisfying, all of the loose ends are tied up, but I could easily see Yara embarking on another adventure while working to further hone her skills. Maybe this time with her grandmother in tow?
Review copy provided by author