REVIEW: Valentine by Jodi McAlister

Published: 30th January 2017

Publisher: Penguin Books Australia

Pages: 395

Format: Paperback courtesy of the publisher

RRP: $19.99 (or $9.99 fro the ebook)

4/5 Stars

Valentine is the first in a smart, witty and page-turning YA series with a paranormal twist for fans of Holly Black and Sarah J. Maas.

Four teenagers – all born on the same Valentine’s Day – begin to disappear. As the bodies mount up, Pearl Linford has to work out what in the supernatural hell is going on, before it happens to her.

Finn Blacklin is the boy with whom Pearl shares a birthday, the boy she has known all her life and disliked every second of it, the boy her subconscious has a totally annoying crush on. Finn is also the Valentine: a Seelie fairy changeling swapped for a human boy at birth. The Unseelie have come to kill the Valentine – except they don’t know who it is. And now both the Seelie and the Unseelie think Pearl is the Valentine, and if they find out she isn’t, she’ll disappear too.

Pearl must use all her wits to protect herself. Finn must come to terms with his newfound heritage. And then there’s the explosive chemistry between them that neither of them know quite what to do about . . .

Jodi McAlister is a natural born storyteller. Right from that first sentence she had had me hooked until the very end of the book. So much so that I devoured it in one sitting and have been contemplating the characters, the situation and the world ever since. While there are a few niggling issues for me with the book, on the whole I can say that the story is totally and utterly addictive. The world Valentine inhabits is mysterious, crazy and so full on that it’s hard not to get swept up in it all. The characters, albeit a bit immature at times, are engaging and charismatic and the setting is so vivid and believable that I felt as though I transported through the pages to the town of Haylesford itself. That doesn’t happen often.

The thing that stands out the most for me in this book, is the relationship between Pearl and Finn. It would have been so easy for McAlister as a debut author (or any author for that matter) to have a simple enemies-to-lovers relationship between the two and yet what McAlister has done is so much more than that. Even after the two are forced together neither character is complacent, nor all that accepting of their new found ‘relationship’; they fight like cats and dogs and question everything and anything. I can not stress to you how relieved I was with this turn in events, especially since there was no insta-love between any of the characters in the book. What’s more, the blurred lines of uncertainty hovering around Pearl and Finn makes their warring tolerance of one another so much refreshing. Here are two very confused and overwhelmed kids who are allowing themselves to be confused and overwhelmed and not rushing into anything head first. It was a refreshing and brilliant move on the author’s part.

I really enjoyed Finn’s character and his complexities and look forward to seeing him grow more (and gain more page space) as the series continues. As for Pearl, she is a bit hysterical for my tastes, and rather over the top. Because of this it took me a while to warm up to her personally, but I did really enjoy her character. After all, anyone is entitled to be that hysterical and overwhelmed given the shit she’s seen and the situations she’s faced. I really enjoyed the unique family atmosphere that Pearl has having been raised by her older twin siblings and I’m rather intrigued as to the mystery regarding this family and what it could spell for future books.

I read a lot of fantasy and fey books, and I want to thank Jodi McAlister from the bottom of my heart for filling a gap in the market and writing fantasy YA novel that rivals those coming out of States. Aussie YA has a strong place on the market, and yet for some reason there are very few Australian fantasy based YA novels that deal with the fey. Not going to lie, reading this book made me smile like an idiot, as only a book set in your own backyard can. There’s just something about having local settings that just enhances a book, don’t you think?

Valentine by Jodi McAlister was like a breath of fresh air. Personally I can not wait for the second book in the series, Ironheart, to be released as I have so many questions and theories surrounding Pearl and Finn that I just really need to get them out!

Ideal of fans of Holly Black, Julie Kagawa and Sarah J Maas.

 

To purchase a copy of Valentine, visit the following online retailers:

Penguin Random House Australia | Angus & Robertson’s BookworldAmazon AUS | Booktopia | Dymocks | Google Books | ibooks AUS | Kobo | OBD |

To learn more about Jodi McAlister, visit the following social media sites:

 Goodreads | Penguin Random House Australia | Twitter | Tumbler |

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