SWEET VENOM (Medusa Girls #1)
Tera Lynn Childs
Paranormal Young Adult
Available September 6th
Received from publisher for review
This review contains NO spoilers.
Grace is seriously hoping the move to San Francisco will give her the opportunity to start over she's desperate for. Always the girl who's never had the ability to stand up for herself or find the witty retort to a popular girl's jibe at just the right moment, she's willing herself the strength to make some personal changes when she starts at a new school. Unfortunately for her, her first day proves she's still the same Grace.
At least she thinks she is until she's carried bodily from a club by a young woman who looks exactly like her and claims to be a descendant of Medusa. Gretchen, Grace's apparent twin sister, has been fighting mythological creatures for four years while the human world remains completely oblivious. But things are changing, and she believes Grace's arrival is part of the reason.
Gretchen resolves to train Grace in the art of creature-slaying while Grace studies up on Gretchen's substantial texts detailing the girls' history and lineage. What she finds however, surprises them both. It seems they're not twins, but triplets. And there's one more sister out there completely unaware of the danger she's in.
Aptly named, Sweet Venom infects us from the first page, sending anticipatory tingles racing through our bloodstream as we prepare ourselves for mythological action and sisterly affection. Both Grace and Gretchen pierce our skin immediately, taking up residence far beneath it for the entire fun-filled ride and turning us into willing partners in their supernatural crime fighting. The story alternates between the first person point of view of both Grace and Gretchen (and eventually Greer) which in some books can be a distraction but in this one gives us full access to three exceptional young women. We get to learn with the characters as we go, starting off fairly in the dark with Grace and then slowly gleaning information from Gretchen as she attempts to familiarize Grace with her impossible history and potentially deadly new existence.
Though we get chapters with each of the three women, Grace is the character with whom we spend the most time, her lack of self-confidence causing us to feel instantly protective as she starts a new life in San Francisco. Though she considers herself fairly nondescript and a general doormat for the popular kids, she has a charming sense of humor about it all that prevents her from slipping down a spiral of self-deprecation into the world of whining. She's extremely intelligent, and when made shockingly aware of her family history, exhibits a determination and desire to succeed that has us cheering her on with every new display of inner fortitude.
Gretchen and Greer are as different from one another as they can get despite their identical appearances, and all three girls prove to be an interesting study in the nature vs. nurture debate. Adopted into separate families at birth, Gretchen, Grace, and Greer's personalities and attitudes are all drastically dissimilar, reflecting the environment in which they've grown up perfectly. However, running through each of them is a quick wit and a drive to excel, providing us readers the added entertainment of comparing and contrasting each character as we read, forming profiles in our heads that irrevocably bind us to each of them as well as to the war they're waging.
The only mild complaint with this story would be with regard to the romantic element. We meet Milo and Nick, objects of affection for Grace and Gretchen respectively, early on and their interactions are both so tense and humorous we find ourselves reverting back to our younger versions–giggling like schoolgirls at Grace's attempts to play it cool when faced with her crush, and smiling like idiots at Nick's admirable persistence despite Gretchen's repeated rejections. Though these moments are extremely well-executed, both Nick and Milo mysteriously disappear through the middle of the story only to make fleeting appearances at the end, leaving us to wonder exactly what their purpose is overall when the relationship between just the girls themselves is so very captivating. There's clearly more to Nick, and possibly Milo and Grace's brother Thane as well, than what we're shown in this first installment, and we can't help but hope their roles are a bit more clearly defined for us moving forward.
Ms. Childs enchants us with her twist of the Medusa myth, constantly keeping us on our toes as we pounce on both familiar and unfamiliar beasts with the girls and continually appealing to our endless curiosity by deftly leaving clues as to Gretchen, Grace, and Greer's destiny as descendants of the famous Gorgon sisters. Being the first book in a trilogy we are left with little resolution, but instead of frustration we feel only excitement at the prospect of spending more time in this world.