A young woman must deal with a missing sister and a peculiar university in this debut paranormal adventure.
Hailey’s life is not quite what it seems. She works with her sister Holly as a waitress at her family’s pub in Pittsburgh, dancing for the crowd and teasing the friendly bartender, Fin. The bar is a popular local spot run by her Uncle Pix, who has taken care of the sisters since their parents died in a fire. In her dreams, Hailey sees a strange being named Asher. When Holly disappears, the normal veneer of Hailey’s life begins to evaporate. She learns Asher is an Envoy, responsible for ferrying souls from the earthly world to the other side. He and his fellow Envoys are trapped in a realm between heaven and Earth, and Hailey’s death would allow them to return home. One in particular, Cobon, is plotting to see this happen. Hailey’s life changes when she leaves Pittsburgh for a university in The Middle of Nowhere, Alaska, where she learns of the paranormal world she’s about to become a bigger part of. Fin is not what he seems either—he and Asher are both part of the university. And they both want to protect her, but they’re at odds with each other, creating a complicated love triangle with Hailey’s life hanging in the balance. There are obvious parallels to the Harry Potter series and the YA novels that followed in its wake. Hailey has to suddenly come to grips with a perilous new world and finds out she’s more special than she thought she was. The university is populated with weird and wonderful characters, just as Hogwarts was in the Potter books. But McCoy has been careful to create her own mythology, familiar enough to draw in readers and unique enough to keep their interest. In Alaska, there are people-eating trees, yetis, and poltergeists. The Envoys can be terrible beasts, but Asher’s struggle with his love for a human becomes compelling. Hailey is a strong character even when she doesn’t realize it, which gives her an inviting vulnerability. And the revelations surrounding Fin as his story unfolds make for some delightful surprises. There are a lot of facets to recommend here, chief among them McCoy’s worldbuilding ability and characters readers will surely want to see again.
A charming and inventive tale with a brave heroine confronting romance and dangerous entities.