Author: Jesi Lea Ryan, 2012
Not only must Cady deal with the grief, but she finds herself being the strong one in her family when her mother falls into the bleakest of depressions. Added to that is Cady’s discovery that she is an empath, which brings with it other, less pleasant developments when she discovers that she is at the mercy of everyone else’s emotions in addition to her own.
A new boy at school, Bryan, offers a glimmer of hope – as do Cady’s friends – and Cady is not along as she tries to come to terms with how her circumstances have changed. Despite all the difficulties, she comes across as a generally happy and spirited teen, and she’s willing to face her challenges despite the hurt.
Arcadia’s Gift by Jesi Lea Ryan is the first book in what looks like a series. It’s slow paced but thorough, and Ryan has used this to good purpose in order to build a solid setting populated by characters who feel authentic, and who have to deal with real issues.
What I especially enjoyed about the story was Ryan’s understanding of death, and the way the grieving process can cast a pall over a person’s life. Also, she approached the supernatural elements in the story in a manner that felt plausible. Actions have consequences, and though I could see where Ryan was headed with certain premises, the execution was nonetheless satisfying, even though it wasn’t overly dramatic as in “we’re going to save the world from itself” epic. Which is also fine. Sometimes heroes don’t need to move mountains, but work quiet miracles among the people they love.
While Arcadia’s Gift does take a while to get off the ground – and this clearly the author laying groundwork – I nonetheless enjoyed the story. Ryan has a light yet engaging tone, and she writes with a great love for her characters and subject matter, and I can imagine that this story will appeal to those who enjoyed all the obvious bestsellers in the YA paranormal/urban fantasy genres.