HALFLINGS (Halflings #1)
Paranormal Young Adult
Received from publisher for review
THE STORY (from Goodreads)
After being inexplicably targeted by an evil intent on harming her at any cost, seventeen-year-old Nikki finds herself under the watchful guardianship of three mysterious young men who call themselves halflings. Sworn to defend her, misfits Mace, Raven, and Vine battle to keep Nikki safe while hiding their deepest secret—and the wings that come with.
A growing attraction between Nikki and two of her protectors presents a whole other danger. While she risks a broken heart, Mace and Raven could lose everything, including their souls. As the mysteries behind the boys’ powers, as well as her role in a scientist’s dark plan, unfold, Nikki is faced with choices that will affect the future of an entire race of heavenly beings, as well as the precarious equilibrium of the earthly world.
With Halflings we literally hit the ground running, dropped into the story as our heroine is fleeing a quartet of hellhounds intent on torturing and maiming her for reasons we can only guess. The story continues to progress at a fairly quick clip with Nikki constantly running afoul of trouble of the supernatural variety, and while events happen swiftly one after the other, the mythology of the halflings sent to protect her as well as the mystery of why Nikki even requires protection unfolds a bit slowly and not altogether clearly. Despite our confusion and the fact that fallen angels are certainly nothing new to young adult literature, Ms. Burch’s halflings are an intriguing addition to the already existing mix, their half-fallen angel, half-human status making them outcasts of both Heaven and earth, destined to constantly battle for those who refuse to accept them as one of their own.
When the first chapter has Nikki bravely facing down the nightmarish hounds without so much as a whimper of fear, we can’t help but smile to ourselves and prepare to fully support a girl with an iron will and a strong survival instinct. Unfortunately, though we are told repeatedly that Nikki has been thoroughly trained in martial arts and can more than handle herself, we almost never see her put those skills to use, instead one of the halfling boys always seems to swoop in and pluck her from danger’s desperate grasp. This fact does get acknowledged about halfway through, with Raven offering to teach her to defend herself, but even after their one brief session it’s still difficult to fully believe in Nikki’s ability to do any harm as we really never see her try.
Additionally, though we are prepared for a love triangle based on the synopsis, the key points of the shape itself never seem to truly form, with Mace being the primary interest (which is perfectly fine, the less of an actual triangle there is, the better in my opinion) and Raven acting as the quintessential bad boy giving the good boy a half-hearted run for his money when it comes to the girl. As with Nikki’s defense skills, we’re simply told she has feelings for both boys, but at no point do we feel the chemistry ourselves, the relationship between the three of them remaining a flat piece of unblemished glass, missing those scrapes, scratches and cracks that make things so much more interesting and beautiful for the imperfections. The dirt, the grit, and the darkness are missing even though we read words that tell us those elements are present, and we’re left with characters who are clean and shiny and a bit less memorable as a result.
The consistently fast pace of this tale has us reaching the last page in record time, yet after reading the last sentences we realize that despite the nearly 300 pages we’ve just devoured, we don’t know that much more about Nikki or the halflings than when we started. Obviously in a series not every little detail can be revealed in the first book or logically the subsequent books would have nowhere to go, however, the final chapters are a bit of a jumble of love, loss, and nagging questions that leave us wishing a little more time had been taken here and there to help guide us through a world that has the potential to be infinitely fascinating.