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Review: Sleight

Sleight: Book One of the AVRA-K by Jennifer Sommersby was released in the U.S. on March 25, 2011 and is currently available online at Amazon and Barnes & Noble in eBook format.

Sleight is currently self-published in eBook format only.

Goodreads description:

Her mom is dead.
Ghosts follow her around.
Her best friend is an elephant.
And she’s about to meet the biggest game changer of all: a boy. With a secret.

When circus-dwelling Gemma Flannery learns she will be attending public school for the first time in her seventeen years, little does she know that fitting in with her 12th-grade classmates will be the least of her concerns.

A pro at hiding her knack for seeing the dead (“shades”), Gemma is grieving the recent suicide of her mentally ill mother, a process eased by the introduction of her first real love interest, the charming and painfully handsome Henry Dmitri, who is harboring his own collection of dangerous secrets. Together, they will be presented with a frightening challenge: to assume their roles as heirs to a 3000-year-old magical text, the AVRAKEDAVRA, a book the über-rich, sleight-of-being master Lucian Dmitri would do anything to get his hands on.

As each terrifying layer in her new reality melts away, Gemma unearths truths that her quiet, nomadic life with the Cinzio Traveling Players is not at all what she’d always cherished. Gemma and Henry must rely on each other to stop Lucian’s diabolical plotting that will bring the world to its tired, scab-riddled knees, and are sent on the flight of their young lives, to save themselves, their families, and the world from the darkest kind of destruction.

Let the chase begin.

***

Gemma Flannery is used to living a life on the road. Traveling with the Cinzio Traveling Players Company involved just that. Traveling. But for the first time in Gemma’s life the show has decided not to leave town.

Staying in one place and attending a regular high school is enough of a hurdle to overcome. Being gawked at or labeled a freak by the locals is nothing new for circus performers. But if her secret ever got out that she had the ability to see the dead, she would become a freak on a whole new level. Always being on the go helped to keep her secret safe.

And it also meant she never had to worry about losing her heart to someone. Moving from town to town, city to city, back and forth across the country, she never stayed long enough to fall in love. Until now.

From the moment she saw Henry Dmitri, he caused her cheeks to flush and her heart to skip a beat. Not only was he drop-dead gorgeous, but he was the son of the richest man in town. The man who convinced the Cinzio’s to stay. But unlike with Ash, her childhood crush, Henry seemed interested in her.

But when she discovers secrets about Henry and his family, Gemma doesn’t know what to believe. And when bad things start happening, not only is Gemma’s heart on the line but her life is, too.

***

Sleight is a beautifully written and imaginative story brimming with dark secrets and powerful magic hidden away beneath the big top. The story flows easily as the mysteries behind the AVRAKEDAVRA and its long history are revealed.

The story captivates from its first line, “The last funeral I went to was for a lion.” And readers will be drawn deeper into Gemma’s story with each turn of the page. The storyline is intricate, but not complicated, with plenty of room to delve further into the magical elements and learn more about the rich history of the AVRA-K in future books in this series.

Sleight is suffused with wonderfully descriptive and gracefully written passages that will transport readers into the elaborate world the author created, only to be returned as it reaches its cliffhanger ending.

While the story is longer than many in the genre, it doesn’t feel like it. The story moves along very smoothly and the end comes up very quickly.

Author Jennifer Sommersby has written a story that is a must read for those looking for something truly different, but with all the aspects readers come to expect from their favorite paranormal/urban fantasy stories – action, adventure, romance, magic, evil, a damsel in stress and a hero.

Reviewer gives this book [rating=5]

On a personal note:

Yay for this new series!

Sleight is one of those books that I wish I had time to read again. Sometimes I finish a book and just want to go back in to re-discover the characters and become completely submerged in the world once more. I know there were a million little details I missed on first pass and I so wished I had the time to re-read this book.

I love the author’s writing. It flowed so beautifully and the passages were so descriptive, I was able to visualize everything as it was happening. I was at the circus with Gemma, Junie, Ash, Ted, Marlene and Irwin.

I haven’t read many stories, if any, about old magic stemming from a powerful book, and in my lifetime only read one book about a circus, so these ideas were very new and different for me. And I’m glad that although the setting was in large part at a circus, it wasn’t the whole story. I didn’t feel like I was learning circus 101.

I love Henry, although I’m still waiting for him to let me down. I just don’t trust those nice boys.

The jury is still out on Ash, for me. He seems like a redeemable character that has just gone astray, but time will tell. I like that the good guys and bad guys, at least in this first book, are clearly identifiable. And that the bad guys are really, really, really bad guys.

There is a great variety in personalities among the characters, which I also liked. And I feel like I got to know each of them really well, though I’m still trying to figure Gemma out. I think she may be trying to figure herself out. She’s that mix of confident and not, outgoing and shy, brave and in need of protection that makes it difficult to put a label on her – but I liked that about her. It’s very real. She’s very real.

The action really picks up toward the end, and the ending is definitely a cliffhanger. Fortunately the wait isn’t too long as the next book is out this fall. But I was so sure that things would wrap up, or at least we’d just be left midway through their journey at a happy stopping point, so was totally caught off guard about that cliff. Didn’t see that ending coming!

***

A partial excerpt from my favorite passage:

I knew that within the sealed framework that was my heart, Henry would be my undoing, my last and only love until I exhaled my dying breath. I just hoped that when I finally did die, at the hands of Lucian or some other unseen entity, that Henry’s face would be the last I would see, that his lips would be the last I would taste, before moving onto the in-between.

Stratagem: Book Two of the AVRA-K will be released this fall.

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