Monday, November 7, 2011

Review: Lightbringer

K.D. McEntire
Paranormal Young Adult
300 Pages
Available November 15th
Received from publisher for review

Wendy is a Lightbringer–a reaper of souls able to send spirits of the deceased into the Light–an ability she discovered after the horrible car accident that robbed her best friend Eddie of his father. Turns out she comes from a long line of Lightbringers, and has been training with her mom to learn the ins and outs of such a unique gift.

When her mom mysteriously falls into a coma and Wendy can't find her spirit anywhere near her body, she decides to spend all her free time scouring the city in search of her. On one of her outings Wendy runs into Piotr, a Rider responsible for the protection of several souls of Lost children from dangerous spirits known as Walkers. Thinking he might be able to help her in a way no one else can, Wendy asks him to assist her in her hunt for her mother, a request he accepts in exchange for the return favor of helping him search for some of the Lost who have gone missing.

What Piotr and Wendy learn is that a new spirit known as the White Lady is amassing large numbers of Walkers and sending them out to steal the Lost. Walkers typically feed on the Lost, using all the youths' unlived years to strengthen their own spectral existence, but now they are simply taking them and not feeding, hording them instead for some greater purpose. As Wendy and Piotr struggle to figure out the White Lady's plan for the Lost, things about each of the two of them that have been hiding in the dark up until now finally make their way into the light and change everything.

Lightbringer illuminates a world that exists parallel to our own, one where life and death coexist simultaneously and where dead in no way means gone. It’s a world we could potentially reach out and touch if we knew it was there, feeling real enough through the paper pages to draw us in and have us itching to explore what exists just beyond the reach of our reality. Because we enter into this story at a point in Wendy’s life when she’s already cognizant of her role as a reaper of ghosts, we are left to play a bit of catch up with regard to the terminology and the distinguishing characteristics that define each type of spirit (Rider, Walker, Lost, Shade). Our resulting detachment from this initial role as an outsider does begin to fade as we slowly learn the the rules that govern the Never and its inhabitants, allowing us to fully engage with our somewhat temperamental heroine, her ghostly love interest, and her steadfast best friend.

Wendy is a character who has a gift for pulling us close and then pushing us away with shocking strength just as she does those around her, at times earning our sympathy for the hand she’s been dealt but then a few pages later knocking us back several steps with her abrasiveness. She often snaps at her family, Eddie, and Piotr, treating them to an attitude they did little to earn, and while we admire the bravado she frequently projects but doesn’t necessarily feel, the negativity that sometimes gets the better of her can be an touch off-putting. Luckily for us though, this tendency and behavior does not go unacknowledged by either Wendy or those on the receiving end of her wrath, and she is quick to remedy her wrongs with sincerity.

One of the more fascinating aspects of this story is Wendy’s role as Lightbringer, her inherited legacy of sending spirits into the Light one that remains difficult to decipher, leaving us to wonder whether or not this gift makes her a savior or monster. Given Piotr’s initial impression of her as well as the seeds of doubt planted by the White Lady, we begin to question, as Wendy does, the certainty that she’s doing the right thing. Wendy slowly begins to realize just how blindly she's been following her mother’s teachings without ever questioning the whys of it, and the more she learns about her ability the more a haze of confusion begins to replace what was once crystal clear to leave us all in an intriguing limbo scrabbling for purchase.

Though Wendy can be problematic at times and our general ignorance in the beginning keeps us at a bit of a distance, the overall story is rather captivating. We are given a little romance, a little heartbreak, a lot of emotional intensity, and a truly horrifying hooded villain even more grotesque once we finally see the face hidden beneath. We’re left with a solid conclusion for the most part with one huge exception, the uncertainty of one character’s fate sure to haunt us as we wait not-so patiently for a second installment.

Rating: 3.5-4/5

(I couldn't really decide between a 3.5 and a 4 - sometimes when I think back on the story Wendy's behavior and attitude bother me more than they do others, so I'm just giving a range:-)


  1. I love it when the villain is truly horrible I think it adds a lot to the story! Great review!

    Krazyyme @ Young Readers

  2. Sounds very interesting. I like having a character who isn't flatly wonderful. I just finish Bunheads where the main character is a nice girl but can also be catty and talk about her friends behind their backs. I liked that. It's more realistic of how "real people" - even nice people act. It seems like in so many books characters are either nice or they're not.

  3. Oh my gosh, the whole idea sounds so cool! I'm a big fan of reapers (or Lightbringers) thanks to Rachel Vincent and her Soul Screamers, and the whole premise for this book had me thinking YES PLEASE! :)

    Awesome review, Jenny! Even if Wendy did bother you sometimes with her attitude, this book still sounds like a blast and I'm definitely adding it to my ever-growing TBR list!

  4. Krazzyme - Me too! I love to hate a good villain, and this one was pretty fantastic:)

    Alison - You make a good point. And I did like that Wendy recognized her behavior and wasn't shy about apologizing for it, that made everything work a little better. There were just a few times where she made my teeth grind:)

    Mimi - I really enjoyed the premise and the different types of spirits and how they all fit together. Definitely looking forward to the next book (I'm hoping there is one based on the ending!)

  5. I don't think this one would work for me but it does sounds like a unique premise. I think stories about reapers are just fascinating--I blame Bill and Ted!

  6. I absolutely LOVE a villain I can truly hate. Usually the ones that rock are the ones who do things because they really and truly think it's for the better, but they have really good personalities. IDK if that made any sense. I guess it's like you want to like them, but their tendencies toward genocide really put you off. LOL!

    Anyway, my favorite characters in books lately have been the reapers, so it's pretty cool that they've done a book with an actual reaper. I'm excited and worried at the same time because of the reaper aspect, but Wendy sounds like she needs a good hair pull. I think I'll check the library for this one. Hope you had an excellent weekend, Jenny! :D

  7. I haven't read a good villain is a creepy villain in a long time....not sure about reapers...EKE!!

    That cover almost cracks me up, I was like what are those things pterodactyls??? LOL

  8. A character's behavior and attitude mean a multitude of things for me. If the character gets on my nerves, then no matter how good the storyline is, I just won't enjoy it. Thanks for the awesome review, Jenny!

  9. Felicia - The whole world was really interesting, I just had a little trouble with Wendy now and then:)

    Jen - ME TOO! And this villain I thought was brilliant. She was creepy and disturbing but also seemed oddly vulnerable, and then when you finally got to see what was under the hood she went to a whole new level of messed up:)

    Tina - Nothing too scary in this one, definitely more intriguing and creepy than downright scary:) And I think it's a chandelier on the cover isn't it? Maybe I just completely made that up:)

    Hafsah - Wendy definitely got on my nerves at times, but like I said, she was pretty good at recognizing and fixing her behavior so that mollified me for the most part:)

  10. Sounds like a fascinating book, Jenny. The dilemma with the reaper is really interesting as well. Though Wendy might get on my nerves, I think I can get passed it. I'll check the library for this one. Thanks for bringing this book to my attention, Jenny!

  11. This one sounds like it could be a good read - I'd never heard of it before your review! :)

  12. I hadn't ever heard of this book before. Crazy, huh?

    I feel like this book is one that would scrabble my little brain way too much. I mean, I barely know English, so the new terminology thing is not usually my... thing. LOL

    But who could resist a truly horrific villain? Thanks for introducing me to this book, Jenny.

  13. I'm definitely curious about the fantasy aspects of this novel! The concept of a Lightbrigner sounds very interesting. It's a bummer that Wendy is a bit too sharp-tongued, but I'm glad she realizes her flaws. Great review, Jenny! :)

  14. Rummanah - It was a very interesting dilemma, the more you learn the more you wonder if what she's doing is a good thing or not:)

    Leanna - It was very interesting, and a series I'm looking forward to continuing!

    Missie - I believe this might be the first YA release from Pyr, normally they do adult science fiction/fantasy so I don't think this one has gotten a lot of buzz just yet:)

    Lauren - If she hadn't acknowledged she was being difficult my rating would have been much lower, but she did and she owned up to it so it all worked out:)

  15. I haven't heard of this one, but it sounds really good. Good review!


  16. I know about not being able to decide, some parts are good, then there is that thing that annoy you and you cant make your mind up

  17. The villain definitely sounds good in this one, but I wonder if I will get caught up in all the terminology. I've never read a book with reapers in it, but I must admit it's tempting. Thanks for the honest review!

  18. The terminology would probably confuse me at the beginning too but the premise of this one sounds unique so I'll probably keep it on my wishlist. Wendy sounds like a real person - sometimes nice, sometime not so nice - and I'm intrigued by the way you talk about the villain.

  19. Don't you hate when you just CAN'T decide on a rating?? LOL

    I think this one sounds super freaking FABULOUS dude!!! Adding it immediately!!

  20. Oh I want to read this one so much. Just a little less when hearing about Wendy's behavior, but if it didn't bother you way too much, I think I can handle it. :) I've also had trouble deciding on ratings lately. I would do this, but my range sometimes is more than a point for different reasons! LOL

  21. This sounds really intriguing and it's actually sitting on my shelf! I'm going to have to read it soon. The reaper concept is one that I do enjoy & I like that she brings them into the light.

  22. A world parallel to our own? Very cool. Dead in now way means gone? Even cooler. Even though you had a few issues with Wendy, it sounds really interesting. And, I know exactly what you mean about the rating and going back and forth.

  23. This is up next on my review radar, and I'm hoping I like it as much as you did - a 3.5 is still pretty dang good! It does sound intriguing :)

    Great review - I seriously don't know how your thoughts are always so coherent. I babble.

  24. This sounds like a really interesting story, but I think the heroine sounds like one that will irritate me. Does she stay abrasive the entire time?

  25. Thanks so much for the review Jenny! I will be reading this book soon and can't wait to get into it. I like that the character snap. It make the characters more flawed and that feels real to me.

  26. You make this sound so good! I was a little afraid by your lower rating, but your review makes it sound like something I'll like. I don't like a bitchy MC, but as long as she recognizes she was mean and apologizes for it then I'm ok.