Braedyn is a normal girl just trying to survive high school with her two devoted friends, Royal and Cassie. Together they’re doing a pretty good job of shrugging off the slings and arrows cast their way by the popular crowd when a new boy, Lucas, moves into the house next door. Suddenly Braedyn finds herself falling in love for the first time.
But as her sixteenth birthday approaches, Braedyn discovers humankind is at war with the Lilitu, an ancient race of enticing demons that prey on human souls. Her father is a member of the Guard fighting against the Lilitu – and so are the new neighbors, including her crush, Lucas.
As her world starts to unravel at the seams, Braedyn learns the right answers aren’t always clear or easy. And as for “good” and “evil” – it all depends on how we choose to act.
Inspired by the ancient Mesopotamian myths of Lilith and her offspring, Thrall explores first love, strong friendships, and taking on adult responsibilities against the backdrop of powerful supernatural forces and life-and-death stakes.
I didn’t know what I was getting myself into with Jennifer Quintenz’s Thrall, but holy Hannah I was not disappointed. I’ve read a lot of young adult lately, but Thrall is young adult done right. Braedyn is introduced as a regular 15 about to be 16 year old who’s about to go through some big changes—and it was at this point that I started to worry. So many stories start this way (a young girl going through some unexpected supernatural changes or some sort of supernatural connection)—and peter off into the predictable, but I am happy to say that Thrall is not one of those stories. It expertly balances the stress of being a teenager and the stress of being introduced into a world you never knew existed—a dangerous and forbidding world.
Sometimes I think that authors forget what it’s like to actually be in high school and how difficult that time can be; add that to the fact that you have a character that’s having the veil pulled down on her regular life—and being brought into a supernatural world— and you’ve got an equation for a stressful situation. But the hard part is making it believable and Quintenz absolutely nails it. And not only is the character of Braedyn strong, but her friends (Royal and Cassie) are fantastic as well. Royal especially stood out for me—here you have a gay character that doesn’t fall into the regular trappings of stereotype. He is sold, interesting, strong, and has some of the best dialogue in the book—and he’s gay, which is who he is and it’s not used as some sort of cheap gimmick or for comedy. Totally balanced and perfect and completely who he is—I loved Royal and I am so pleased to see such a well represented character. People are beautiful because of all the little things that make them who they are and the characters of this book feel real to me—and human. Thank you; just really fantastic work here.
What I also really enjoyed was the relationship between Braedyn and Lucas; for once, a teenage relationship actually captures what it felt like to be in a teenage relationship—the insecurities, the challenges, the overwhelming feeling—but what I loved the most about this is how Braedyn and Lucas complement each other. Obviously, there’s tension between them and for certain reasons they can’t be together openly, but it seems genuine and not unhealthy—they miss each other and want to be together, but they’re not obsessed with each other in that unrealistic, all-consuming way that seems to be the trend in a lot of fiction. It was a well-developed, believable relationship that I completely found myself buying into and I can’t wait to see how it develops with the books to come.
It’s pretty obvious that I loved this book, but I have to say that in addition to the fantastic characters and dialogue, amazing pacing (that kept me flipping the pages till the very end), and the really interesting overall story, I loved what this story does with morality. There’s no definitive evil or good—just shades of gray and reasons why individuals act the way they do. Parts of the story will have you questioning what is good and what is evil and whether certain actions are justifiable, which was refreshing to see in a young adult novel within a genre that typically is very clear cut when it comes to depicting good and evil. Life just isn’t that way and many times things are just an overwhelming gray—which is absolutely worth exploring and writing about, especially when the writing is this fun to read.
As for critiques, I don’t really have any. I genuinely enjoyed the hell out of this book and if there was anything that I didn’t like, it didn’t stand out.
Okay, long review summed up: This book was really, really solid. I loved the characters, the setting, the pacing, and the story. I really can’t recommend it enough and I pretty much am going to tell anyone who will listen that they should read this book and series. I absolutely cannot wait to read the second book in the series, Incubus.