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Formats
Paperback Book Details
  • 06/2017
  • 9781544766591 1544766599
  • 220 pages
  • $11.95
Lifelike
Peter Dudley, author
Jewel’s artistic talent is like magic, as if her brush were a witch’s wand, not a simple painting tool. She thinks she could surpass the old masters, if she could only escape her parents’ plastic existence. When she’s finally out of high school, she flees to San Francisco and a fresh start. What she doesn’t know is that her talent is fueled by an untamed and dangerous magic. When a mysterious, alluring art teacher promises to train her to control and harness that magic, Jewel puts her future–and her body–into his seductive hands. She soon discovers she’s not his first pupil, however, and as she learns the truth from the girls who came before, Jewel is faced with a terrible choice: Give up painting and spend her life running away, or risk her life–and her very soul–to destroy the man she’s fallen in love with.
Reviews
A young runaway must unlock the secrets of her creative magic to save the souls of dozens of young women in this darkly fantastic YA adventure from Dudley (the New Eden series). Budding artist Jewel runs away from home to start her journey to fame in San Francisco. When she meets Damon, a mysterious painting instructor, he takes her under his wing to teach her how to control her magical painting ability. But this is not the first time Damon has seduced a young woman, and she encounters the spirits of his former students trapped in the paintings in his home. It becomes a race against time to free the spirits of the trapped girls as Damon’s dark past is revealed and Jewel learns what he is capable of.

Dudley writes with a good sense of pace, and the novel’s premise is imaginative. Jewel is a likeable protagonist, although her godlike artistic talent and her perpetually flawless good looks might not endear her to teen readers looking for relatable protagonists. Damon’s romanticized characterization early in the book does a little too much to foreshadow the revelation of his malevolence, and he tends to steal scenes as the antagonist. Dudley’s tone can be uneven: while some passages ripple with intensity and lyricism, others lack nuance, blunting the impact of the story.

Where Dudley succeeds is in creating a tense, mysterious atmosphere. Damon’s style of magic, trapping his victims in his paintings by stealing their spirit while painting their portraits, is inspired. The trapped women themselves are well-rounded and intriguing side characters. The novel’s themes are pertinent in the #MeToo era; part of the book’s appeal is Dudley’s Lolita-esque dissection of the machinations of a much-older predator. This tale is both cautionary and empowering, and YA readers in search of a topical urban fantasy will find a lot to love.

Takeaway: Teen readers seeking an empowering tale about female solidarity against predatory men will appreciate this suspenseful urban fantasy.

Great for fans of Daniel José Older’s Shadowshaper Cypher.

Production grades
Cover: A
Design and typography: A
Illustrations: -
Editing: A
Marketing copy: A

Formats
Paperback Book Details
  • 06/2017
  • 9781544766591 1544766599
  • 220 pages
  • $11.95

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