Reading Level: Adult
Genre: Historical Fantasy
Length: 324 pages
Publisher: Leisure Books
Release Date: August 20, 2009
Stand Alone or Series: 1st book in the Strangely Beautiful series
Source: Bought for Kindle
Rating: 5/5 stars
I have had this book on my to be read list forever, not sure why I never got around to reading it. I bought it for my Kindle when I first got my Kindle (along with a million other books) so it kind of got lost in the shuffle. It was beautifully written, engaging, and romantic. It does have a gothic overtone to it and I ended up absolutely adoring it.
Six kids are given powers and a task, to guard humanity against the ghosts and darkness that haunt it…they are known as The Guard. Their leader is Alexi and he is given power over spiritual blue fire. There is a prophecy that in their hour of need the Guards will gain a seventh member; she will be lost and need protection but will also save humanity.
Many years have passed since the Guard have been given their powers. Miss Percy Parker is excited to arrive at Athens Academy. She was an orphan raised at a nunnery but deeply desired more schooling and a profession. Percy is looking forward to higher education and is determined to be the perfect pupil. Of course all that is put in jeopardy when she meets Professor Alexi; there is something about him Percy finds very distracting and the visions she occasionally has hit her all the more frequently in his presence.
While Percy tries to unravel the secrets of her history and of the effect Alexi has on her; the Guard is desperate to find their seventh as more and more violent hauntings plague London.
I really loved this book, it is beautifully written and blends together a lot of interesting elements of fantasy, history, and mythology. The book is set in Victorian London during the Jack the Ripper crisis. In this alternate London ghosts are real and it is the Guards’ duty to protect humanity from them and make sure the public is fairly ignorant about it all. That is pretty much the world, there isn’t a ton of world building outside of that.
Aside from the historical setting there is also some mythology in here; you should be able to guess how greek mythology ties in with the story given Persephone’s name. This mythology was blended into the historical setting in a creative and well done way.
What really drives the story are the characters. I loved the Guard and how each Guard member represents an aspect of the Goddess who gave them their powers. The lead guard, Alexi, is of course the most interesting and compelling of them all. He has that whole dark, brooding, mysterious and noble persona going on..which I will admit I am a sucker for. He also has a darkly witty sense of humor which I loved.
I also enjoyed Percy as a character; in the beginning of the book she’s comes off as a bit naive and ignorant but she definitely grew more backbone as the story continued. I ended up enjoying watching her grow as she grew more confident and daring. The chemistry between her and Alexi is amazingly well done and very engaging. There are some beautifully written scenes between the two that will take your breath away.
The writing is very lush, descriptive, and flows nicely. It was a book that was enjoyable and easy to read. It’s a good balance of plot, mystery, action, paranormal, and romance. I will admit this is a pretty romance heavy story; there are a few times where the story takes a pause so that Alexi and Percy can have a romantic scene together. However, I never felt like the romance overrode the interesting storyline. The story is fairly predictable but I still really enjoyed the path we took to get to that ending.
Overall this was a beautifully written story that did an excellent job of blending history, mythology, and supernatural elements. The story has a very gothic/Victorian feel to it and I enjoyed it a lot. The characters are really what drive the story and I loved them all. There is quite a bit of romance in here that was incredibly well done; it never took over the story but was definitely a driver. I would recommend this book to those who enjoy historical fantasy with some supernatural elements and romance.