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Review: The Soulkeepers

The Soulkeepers is the debut young adult novel for author G.P. Ching. It was first released in the U.S. on March 10, 2011 in eBook format. It is currently available online at Amazon and Barnes & Noble in both eBook and paperback formats.

Published by CreateSpace, the print edition is 330 pages.

Goodreads description:

When fifteen-year-old Jacob Lau is pulled from the crumpled remains of his mother’s car, no one can explain why he was driving or why the police can’t find his mother’s body.

Made a ward of his uncle and thousands of miles from home, a beautiful and mysterious neighbor, Dr. Abigail Silva, offers to use her unique abilities to help him find his mom. In exchange, she requires Jacob to train as a Soulkeeper, a biologically gifted warrior charged with protecting human souls.

He agrees to her demands, desperate for any clue to the mystery of his mother’s disappearance. But soon Jacob finds himself trapped in a web of half-truths, and questions Dr. Silva’s motives for helping him.

***

Ever since he recovered from the car accident in which his mother went missing, Jacob has been suffering from disturbing nightmares. The doctors say it’s just his brain trying to recover from the trauma, but something about them feels too real.

Miles from his home in Hawaii, living with relatives that he never even knew existed, the dreams still come to him night after night. And now he’s having them about his neighbor across the street. A woman who appears to float more than walk and who doesn’t need shoes even in the dead of winter.

Already an outcast at his new school, all he wants is to find out what happened to his mom and go home. But with no money and no leads there will be no quick escape for him from the small town of Paris, Illinois. And when he is pushed to the limits one too many times, Jacob learns a secret about himself that makes him question who he really is and if his dreams are more than just fantasy.

With no one else to turn to, Jacob is tempted to accept the offer of help from his mysterious neighbor, Dr. Silva. But he has a feeling that she is keeping secrets from him and her help comes at a price. One that even for finding his mother just might not be worth paying.

***

The Soulkeepers is an utterly spellbinding, elaborate and spectacularly written young adult novel by author G.P. Ching. From its very first words – “Death lived up to Jacob’s expectations” – the story will pull readers in and take them on an adventure as Jacob discovers abilities he never knew he had and tries to uncover the truth about his mother’s whereabouts.

The story is equal parts paranormal mystery and epic adventure as Jacob learns about the importance of what he is and what his role is in the battle of good versus evil. The Soulkeepers will twist and turn, taking readers on a ride that will end way too soon in a place completely unexpected.

Author G.P. Ching delivers a book that is unequivocally unique, where both the story and characters are the stars. Her writing is simply magical and will enchant readers with its easy flow and moments of humor – especially in the chapter titles. The book talks of God and religion but in no way feels as if the reader is being preached to or as if being made to learn a lesson. Each point has relevance and is key to the story’s development.

The Soulkeepers is a must, must, must read. It’s a story that will be enjoyed and devoured by readers who want to be completely swept away by an adventure, who love a battle of good versus evil, who need a puzzle to solve and who can find excitement outside of a love triangle.

Reviewer gives this book [rating=6] Like In-N-Out Burger‘s infamous secret menu this one deserves my off-the-menu 6 star rating.

On a personal note:

Holy wow! What a surprise! I was not expecting to get as caught up in the story as I did. When I finished reading this book I felt like I’d been on a huge adventure and it took me a long time to come back to reality. I was so completely absorbed.

I am totally hooked on this book now, which just better be turned into a series with a sequel coming out really, really soon, as I’ve only just begun to learn about Jacob’s abilities and desperately want to know more about what is expected of him. And there are other characters, which I will not name, that I really want to see have a happy ending, even if it’s several books down the road.

The Soulkeepers does not read anything like a typical self-published book. If I hadn’t been told it was when I read it I might never have guessed. It has that very polished, finished feel that traditionally published books have, where a content editor has gone through and eliminated the non-essentials.

Everything in this book felt necessary to the story, which was detailed and elaborate and so well thought out. And I was so transfixed by the story that there was one piece of the puzzle that I completely forgot about that really came back to surprise me at the end.

This story is a definite standout and a breath of fresh air and there is no way I will be forgetting all the different elements. Another thing I love is that it focuses so much more on building the story itself rather than by creating drama by adding in heartbreak or a love triangle.

Even though Jacob is very well developed and definitely likable, he is not nearly as much the focus as the story itself, which is absolutely addictive. And much to my surprise he is not my favorite character. I actually have two, but again I cannot say who or I will be totally spoiler-y.

I am so glad the author approached me to read her book. I will be buying this eBook for my nook so that I can read it again on whichever device I have with me at the time.

No question, this book is not one to miss. I just wish the second book (if there is one planned) will be out soon, as I feel like after that long read everything’s just gotten started and I’m so ready for more.

Favorite passage:

Jacob didn’t believe it. He’d accepted that everything would end in black nothingness and for him it did. What he didn’t expect was that the end was just the beginning.

***

To read an excerpt of the first three chapters from the author’s blog, CLICK HERE.

UPDATE: The author confirmed that this is the first book in a series. (YAY!) The second book, currently titled Medicine Woman, is planned for release this fall and a third book entitled Double Helix is also planned.

Bio excerpted from the author’s blog:

I was born the youngest child of five to a florist and a sheet metal worker. Writing has always been important to me.  My first story,  The Dog Who Ate Pancakes was about a gastronomically snooty labrador. I was six when I wrote it. I think my mom still has that one somewhere.

I write full time now and am a partner at DarkSide publishing.  My short fiction has appeared in various print and electronic publications.  The Soulkeepers, my debut YA novel, will be released spring of 2011.

I live in Illinois with my husband, two kids and one very demanding guinea pig.  That last bit sounds like a joke but honestly, Mr. Pig will barrage me with high pitched squeaking until I dispense parsley.  It’s a love-hate relationship.

To read the author’s complete bio, check out her bio at http://genevieveching.blogspot.com.

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