Thursday, June 30, 2011

Review: Ada, Legend of a Healer

R.A. McDonald
Paranormal Young Adult
260 Pages
House of Lore Publishing
Available Now
Received from publisher for review

Ada has been bouncing from foster home to foster home ever since her Aunt Jessie gave up guardianship years ago. It seems each home is worse than the one before, so Ada does her best to get herself removed from them and placed somewhere new.

Now that she's fifteen however, placing her is more difficult and her social worker Gretchen is frantic to get in touch with Jessie to come and get her. When she finally does, Ada's not so sure being with her Aunt Jessie, in reality her mom's friend not her sister, is any better than being in the system.

Jessie helps Ada understand that she has the gift of healing, dragging her from one case to the next demonstrating how a simple touch can cure any manner of illness or injury. It turns out this is a dangerous gift to have however, and some very important people want to keep Jessie, and now Ada, as their own personal healers. Forced to separate, Ada goes to Paris in search of her long lost mother, but her gift is not an easy one to keep off the radar and those who are after her will stop at nothing to harness her power.

Though its cover might initially cause readers to balk at the nearly indecipherable and chaotic image, the story that lies in wait is simplistic in the best possible way, progressing swiftly and easily and entertaining us with every page. In the beginning as we are introduced to Ada's healing gift, we quietly chastise her for her attitude and unwillingness to help those so clearly in need as Jessie does. As the story moves forward though we begin to feel how much of a burden such a gift can truly be, questioning ourselves instead of Ada and wondering how we would deal with the weight of deciding between life and death, pain and relief, and misery and euphoria for strangers and friends alike. We quickly come to realize the predicament Ada is in, and our yearning for her gift coupled with our rejection of the responsibility that accompanies it makes for an emotionally enthralling read.

Connecting to Ada in the beginning is a bit of a challenge in and of itself, her seeming disdain for people in general understandable given her experience in the foster care system, but her icy quips and finely honed instincts telling her to push everyone away have the desired effect. It doesn't take long for us to become extremely involved in her life as she goes on the run though, willing the displays of strength we've seen from her thus far to carry her through and help her find a permanent home and family. The more she uses her gift, the more protective of her we become, shifting our disapproval regarding its use from Ada to those around her who risk her exposure and capture by repeatedly asking for assistance. We then have to physically shake ourselves for that reaction, knowing if we were suffering we would seek out any help possible as well. Thus, we as readers see Ada's gift through a variety of different filters, instinctively reacting to each one and learning about a different aspect of humanity through every new instance.

Beautifully blended into the turmoil surrounding Ada's healing ability is a sweet relationship with Daniel, a young man she meets in Paris who helps her learn to defend herself and perfect the art of escape. With each interaction we hope for Ada to find a haven with Daniel, awed by the lessons he gives her in expertly traversing the streets of Paris, and intrigued by the subtle quality to their increasing affection for one another. Though a taste of romance is present, the flavor of the overall story is not consumed by it, and we are continually swept from event to event as Ada searches for answers.

Ada, Legend of a Healer is a pleasantly surprising read, absorbing us into its pages quickly and refusing to relinquish us until the very action-packed end. This story isn't one to linger in one place too long, keeping us constantly on the move with Ada which, while keeping us glued to the pages, can also at times make us feel like we are playing catch-up as we attempt to chase after Ada before she gets too far out of our grasp. Additionally, this tale does end a touch abruptly, kicking us out mid-adventure but leaving us very much looking forward to meeting back up with Ada and Daniel again.

Rating: 4/5


  1. Oh, I don't think I would have picked this one up based on the cover. It seems like the story is engrossing though and I like that the romance is subtler, not taking the focus off the overall story. I'll add this one to my wishlist then.

  2. Seriously, I wouldn't have picked it up either. But this is why I love reading book blogs so much, I always discover something new:) Also I trust you blindly so this goes on my TBR pile! I am however a bit sad that you said that the romance is not stronger.. I recently read some books where the romance was not so well developed and I'm in a huge need of some swooning romance!

  3. This one sounds great to me! Thanks for sharing.

  4. I would not have been interested in this book at all, if not for your review. I am glad to hear that romance is not such a big part - I prefer it that way (is that very weird?). I need an action-packed page-turner like this now.

  5. Like the other comments I wouldn't have even looked at this. But it does sound like a good action packed read. Great review :)

  6. OOh I have this one on my Kindle and now I'm so glad I have. It sounds amazing. I want to start it right now :-)

  7. I like a character with icy quips. I think Ada and I will get along. It's also nice to have a story that isn't all about the romance. Those are unfortunately too rare.

  8. Have not heard of this book but it sounds great! I like books that can absorbed me fast. Nice review Jenny!

  9. Zahida - I definitely would not have picked it up if I hadn't read Melissa at I Swim for Oceans review of it. I thought it would be too young for me because the type is really large and there are illustrations running all through it, but I was very pleasantly surprised:)

    Danny - I was not looking forward to it to be honest, it was one I had to force myself to read and then I got sucked right in and loved it:) And it's not that the romance isn't strong - it's a very sweet relationship, it's just not the entire premise of the story which was nice I thought:) I'm like to swoon too, and this was satisfying I thought in that department:)

    Denise - You're welcome!

    Misha - It's definitely full of action, you hit the ground running and don't stop. I'm really looking forward to the next book:)

    Nic - It's worth a read for sure, I just want them to update the cover so it doesn't get dismissed right away!

    Slowest - YAY! Can't wait to see what you think:)

    Alison - I grew to really like Ada, for her age she was very mature and her healing ability was unique and fun to read about, especially with all the questions it raised.

  10. I haven't heard of this one but it sounds like an interesting read. I can't imagine having a gift like that -- the choices she has to make must be terrible. Thanks for the review, Jenny! As always, it's beautifully written. :)
    Happy reading,
    Mary @ Book Swarm

  11. Okay, I actually LOVE the cover of this one. From your review, I think it captures the tone of the book perfectly.

    Your review is rockin as usual, Jenny. Even though I hadn't heard of this book before hand, I think this is something that I would like even though the ending is a bit abrupt. But hey, it's a good way to build up anticipation!

    My Latest Review: Dead Rules by Randy Russell

  12. I dunno, I kind of dig the cover! Okay, maybe not the font, but the image is kind of neat!
    The concept of Ada is pretty interesting; glad to hear that it was a good read! :)

  13. You area always reviewing new books that I might have overlooked initially and I really like that! I like the sound of this one and I agree w/ everyone else when they say that the cover didn't catch their eye. That's why we shouldn't judge a book by its cover! ;) Thanks for the great review, Jenny. I'll have to check this one out.

  14. Mary - It was very interesting, I liked it quite ab it:) And thank you, I'm glad you enjoyed the review:)

    Carissa - I like that it's an illustrated cover and it matches the other illustrations that are running through the book, but for some reason it just doesn't work for me here:) Such a good book though!

    Lauren - I think it's the fact that it's in color and the type isn't working for me from a design standpoint. The other illustrations are in black and white in the book and they're gorgeous. I think the weird blue glow and everything cheapens the cover a bit. I'm a design snot though:)

    Christina - So glad I could bring this one to your attention. I would have overlooked it as well if not for Melissa. I loved this one:)

  15. I am being all negative again but I just do not connect to this book. Perhaps it is not for me

  16. Yeah that cover screams Im a b-book, but your review makes it sound really good. I want to meet this Daniel...:)

  17. Yup, I'm surprised because the cover does nothing for me. Still, I think it sounds right to keep the romance low key if Ada is discovering/developing her healing talent.

    Thanks for giving all types of books a try, and then schooling us, Jenny! Lesson learned. ;)

  18. Blodeuedd - It's probably not for everyone:)

    Tina - I was shocked by how much I enjoyed it, I had my cover-prejudice out in full force and then got it thrown in my face and I was glad for it.

    Missie - You're welcome, I live to school people;)

  19. I have this one sitting on my shelf waiting to be read, so I am very excited to hear that you liked it! I also agree that the cover doesn't do much for me, but the story looks very intriguing, and it sounds like Ada develops into a great character.

  20. I've never heard of this one before. It really is your review and the fact that you gave it a 4 that makes me want to read it. Plus, I've, as of late, been pondering the difference between books I love and books I only like. A lot of the time (unless it's a romance I'm purposefully reading), I feel like the story gets lost in the romance of the characters. I don't know, it kind of pushes everything away for me. I don't know if that made any sense or if I'm just rambling *or both*. It does sound like a good one. Great review Jenny!

    In the Closet With a Bibliophile

  21. This sounds brilliant! I hadn't even heard of it, but now I'm going to keep an eye out for it.
    Thanks for the brilliant interview!

  22. I like how you go from not really connecting with Ada to really rooting for her. I don't think I would have gravitated to this book (I hate to admit I'm a bit of a cover snob) but your review makes me really want to check out this book. Thanks!

  23. Sounds like you really got pulled into the story. I hadn't heard of this one but will look for it now.

  24. Don't think i've heard of this one before but from your review it does sound like something I would like.

  25. 4 even though you had a hard time connecting?? Hmmm... I don't know...

  26. Linds - Yay! Can't wait for your thoughts on it:)

    Jen - I've been reading a lot of romance-dominated stories lately as well, and as much of a fan of romance as I am, this was a nice break with just enough romance to satisfy without it being all consuming.

    Megan - I hadn't heard of it until I saw Melissa's review, but I'm so glad she and the publisher brought it to my attention:)

    Melissa - You just kind of wonder why she's being difficult with her gift in the beginning, but then quickly understand what the consequences of the gift are and you can't not root for her!

    Alyssa - I did, I ended up really enjoying this one:)

    Jenny - It's definitely one that's under the radar! I'm looking forward to more of Ada in the next book:)

    Ashley - It was only in the beginning, then it she really grew on me and I adored her:)

  27. The cover didn't grab me, but your review piques my interest. Might have to check this one out. Thanks for the rec!