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Review: Sleight by Jennifer Sommersby

Sleight by Jennifer Sommersby

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Release Date: March 30, 2011

Publisher: Createspace
Source: own/Purchased
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About the Book:
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.

What I would like to know is why there aren't more people going on about this book? It's fantastic!

I first found out about Sleight... well, I don't remember precisely how I discovered it, but I did a feature on it for Covetable Covers because I was so in love with cover. And being an unapologetic cover girl, I was almost ridiculously eager to become entangled with the story. I'm happy to report that although Sleight tantalized me with its cover, it was the story behind it that hooked me in and arrested my attention.

Gemma Flannery was certainly a winning determinant, as she's an attractive character--a girl I think everyone can identify with. She's a bit shy with underlying snark, and she's trying to cope with the recent loss of her mom. While she didn't strike me as bitter, nor hostile toward the world, she strives to keep attention to herself to a minimum. Probably derived from her need to withhold her special ability to see the dead from everyone. From those first few pages, it's pretty clear that Gemma wants to escape notice. But, she slowly breaks out of that shell once Henry comes into the picture and he becomes her friend. She's willing to go along with what ever her best friend wants to do--with complaint, mind you, but with reluctant participation nonetheless. Later, when the deep, overlying mystery snatches her up, her reactions are genuine. She freaks out when she realizes what kind of dangers and surprising, almost unbelievable SUPERNATURAL truths involve her life, yet she's smart enough, brave enough to calm down and take up action, hunting down answers for herself. Her narration helped fortify a connection with me; her feelings and thoughts poured off the pages and onto my own. And that's the thing about Sommersby's characterizations--even though I didn't get to know every single character, I ended up liking them and feeling for them despite my lack of full blown connection with them. My only problem as far as characters WAS that lack of knowing more about the characters, AND the absence of some insight into the circus world. Sadly, I was given only glimpses of what it's truly like to be part of a circus and perform. Granted it's not the focus of the book, but if the main character is unique, one of the reasons being her circus background, wouldn't it stand to reason that the circus be a significant part of her, her life, and, therefore, the story? Maybe that's just me.

Still, in spite of my obvious love of Gemma and Co. (her very cool Circus fam), I wouldn't have been satisfied if there'd been no romance. As much as I am a cover girl, I'm a romance girl. I simply cannot completely immerse myself in a book without there being some kind of love interest and amorous scenes between the heroine and said love interest. So, I was absolutely pleased with Henry and Gemma's development into that romance stage. My favorite aspect of the romance was the slow simmering progress into that part of their relationship. They started out as FRIENDS. This is just about the most effective way of getting me fixed on a romance. It was amazing, seeing those long conversations in which each of them revealed themselves, those slightly awkward or embarrassing moments, the secret-sharing, leading all the way up to that tender, and oh so, so sweet encounter. Of course, there was a touch of the enigmatic to Henry and a bit of suspicion on Gemma's part. But it wasn't a Bella's-crazy-freaking-obsession-with-Edward-Cullen type of deal. I think Gemma felt that Henry was entitled to oddness and secrets, as she wasn't exactly forthcoming about her own abilities. The only thing that bothered me a little even as it warmed me was the sometimes overly sentimental scenes, where it bordered on the unrealistic.

But the most compelling part of Gemma's journey would have to be the big, hush-hush, magical Avra-K, short for AVRAKEDAVRA, an ancient text that one horrible, sicko villain is after like sharks after blood. The connection between Gemma, Henry, Lucian, and many others and their roles in this fight for the book kept me on my toes. The unexpected, yet somehow unsurprising betrayals of long-time friends, the deaths of people who came to matter, and the hidden truths that involve so many anchored me to the story. The undeniable link between Gemma's ghost-seeing abilities, her mother's death, and Henry's own innate capabilities promise for a thrilling, more exciting adventure on the horizon--and maybe my battle-deprived soul can expect some crazy fantastic fight scenes...?

Sleight laid the groundwork for something epic, and acts as a wonderful start to this magic-ridden, humorous, and intriguing series!


"You writing about the lion story?" his message said.
"Yup. What about you..."
"Same boring stuff. Probably will reuse an essay from another English class and throw in some details about the scheming you & I will do to rule the world."
"We should make the Hershey or Ben & Jerry's plant our lair of evil," I wrote. "Ample chocolate and ice cream to fuel our maniacal plotting sessions."
"Ur a fan of ice cream and chocolate, I take it?"
I laughed and spoke my response out loud as I typed it. "Duh! I'm a GIRL."
"Nuff said," he said. (44)

He reached for my hand and pressed it to his cheekbone.
"See? All better," he said.
A pleasant silence settled between us, our fingers intertwined against his clean-shaven face. The tingle of anticipation surged through me as Henry pulled me around to his side of the table. I scooted toward him, and he moved his hand to my cheek to brush a few wayward curls around the side of my face.
"May I?" (114) *melts*


Liz. R said...

I've been seeing a lot of good things about this one, glad you enjoyed it! Though I have to admit, every time I see "AVRAKEDAVRA" I think "Avada Kedavra" :P. Thanks for the review, I'll be keeping an eye out for Sleight! :)

Marathon said...

I did, so much. *lol* There's nothing like hearing you know who say those words! :D
Pick it up, though, when you can, I think you'll enjoy it!

Anonymous said...

"...his thumb and pinky finger curling around and resting on the back of my hand." beautiful details, wonderful story. Gemma Flannery ...Brused, battered, burned and bloody yet still beautiful. Henry was truly in love. Can't wait for ACT, I mean book two. Jennifer Sommersby has hit gold with this one. Absolutely made for Hollywood and the big screen. Hocus Pocus and ALA-KA-ZAM ...PURE MAGIC.

Marathon said...

I totally agree! I didn't know she was coming out with a second book?! When is it releasing?? *goes off to google*