Title: Loreena's Gift
Author: Colleen M. Story
Source: For Review
RATING: 3.5 STARS
A BLIND GIRL'S TERRIFYING "GIFT" ALLOWS HER TO REGAIN HER EYESIGHT--BUT ONLY AS SHE FERRIES THE RECENTLY DECEASED INTO THE AFTERLIFE.
Loreena Picket thinks she knows herself. A blind young woman who lives with her uncle, a reverend at a small-town church, she's a dutiful niece and talented pianist for the congregation.
But they're both hiding a terrible secret. Loreena can kill people with the touch of her hand.
While her uncle sees her as an angel of mercy, helping usher the terminally ill members of his flock into the afterlife, Loreena has her doubts.
Torn between doing her uncle's bidding and the allure of the fleeting moments when her eyesight returns on the journey to the other side, Loreena cooperates with her uncle until her troubled older brother returns to town. When she reveals her power by saving him from a local drug dealer, she is drawn into a sinister and dangerous world that will test the true nature of her talent and force her to consider how far she is willing to go to survive.
An exciting debut that crosses fantasy and literary fiction, Loreena's Gift is a thought-provoking meditation on life and death and what ultimately lies beyond this world.
There are character types that show up in a lot of books. Everywhere we look, we are getting a lot of the same cookie cutter characters with minor differences thrown in for good measure. This works because the stories differ, but there are times when, as readers, we would like a fresh story with fresh characters. And this book delivered that. It has a main character who is blind. I will admit that when I saw that in the synopsis, I immediately signed up for the tour. I have a few "buzz words" that if they show up I automatically need to read that book. And "blind main character" isn't necessarily a trope (maybe not the right word, but can't think of anything at the moment) I go out and seek. But when it is there, I will read it simply for that. You don't see characters with disabilities enough in YA, or as main characters. So that was a winning factor for me with this book.
Another great thing about this book is that not only is the main character Loreena blind, but this isn't just a contemporary book about her life and how she deals. This is so much more. It has those elements in the story, because that is how we learn Loreena as a character. But this has supernatural elements. See, Loreena's touch will kill. I liked how the author incorporated this into the story nicely. And it didn't feel over the top.
Loreena lives with her uncle, who is a pastor, and with him she helps people cross over. This is the storyline, and we watch it unfold as Loreena fights how she feels when she is doing this "job" and we are given some complications with her brother, Saul. I really loved how well rounded Loreena was as a character. We got to see the strong side, as well as the side that grapples with what she is doing. And whether or not it's right.
I enjoyed this book a lot. I felt that the story was paced just right, and I didn't find myself looking ahead at chapter breaks and the like. I would recommend this book for the story and the well written characters, as well as a little something different when it comes to the main character. I felt the author was able to pull off all the elements in this book. And I would read more by this author in the future.
Colleen M. Story writes imaginative fiction and is also a freelance writer, instructor, and motivational speaker specializing in creativity, productivity, and personal wellness. Her latest novel, "Loreena’s Gift," was released with Dzanc Books April 12 2016. Her fantasy novel, "Rise of the Sidenah," is a North American Book Awards winner, and New Apple Book Awards Official Selection (Young Adult). She is the founder of Writing and Wellness (writingandwellness.com) a motivational site for writers and other creatives.