Review copy provided by publisher
Lily Parker is new to St. Sophia’s School for Girls, but she’s already learned that magic can be your best friend…or your worst enemy.
They say absolute power corrupts absolutely. Turns out, even a little magic can turn you to the dark side. That’s why Lily has to learn how to control her newly discovered paranormal abilities, on top of avoiding the snobs who think they run her school, nursing a crush on a cute sophomore with a big, werewolf-y secret, and fighting the good fight with her best friend Scout as they take on Chicago’s nastiest nightlife—including the tainted magic users known as Reapers.
Then Lily’s invited to a private meeting with Sebastian. He’s hot, powerful, and offering to help her harness the magic flowing in her veins in a way no one else can. He’s also a Reaper. Lily can’t hide her suspicions. But she’ll soon find out that the line between good and evil isn’t always clear…
Lily and her BFF (best friend forever), Scout, are part of the Dark Elite, kids who fight the evil crawling around Chicagoland. During the day, they're your typical boarding school teens, lusting after cute boys, snarking about the local queen bee/mean girls, and going to classes. I really like these two characters. They have their own quirks and flaws but are still trying to do the right thing, despite the fact that, if they don't give up their powers when they get older, they'll turn evil and become Reapers, ex-Elite who suck the magic out of (and ultimately kill) other Dark Elites. Yes, it's a tangled web. One that gets even more tangled when you factor in Sebastian.
Sebastian is a Reaper but it seems like he's trying to help out Lily. In the first book, he did help her learn a bit about her powers and, in this story, he's always skulking around, appearing to feed Lily little tidbits of information. Some of this information is useful and some is just confusing. Plus, Lily's got feelings for Sebastian and she's not sure what to do about it. He's bad, right? That's what I want to know. It's like Neill is teasing me with the lack of information about Sebastian, enjoying my frustration. He's an intriguing character and, like Lily, I want to know what his deal is.
I like how Neill introduces aspects from her adult vampire novels (Chicagoland Vampires—and awesome series if you haven't read it!). There are some new baddies in town, slimy, vamp-like, slug creatures (yes, they're as pretty as they sound) and the kids have to enlist the help of another group of Dark Elite as well as get some info from the vamps. The answer to the mystery is rather obvious, with the clues dropping like breadcrumbs in front of the kids.
There's great potential in this series, potential that I don't think it's quite reached yet. Because this series is done episode-style, much like Rachel Caine's Morganville Vampire series, there's a major mystery surrounding Lily's parents, the company they work for, and Lily's boarding school itself, including the headmistress. So, the set-up is there but it's a bit too unclear at the moment. However, I have the feeling, as we progress, the pieces will start to fall into place.
All in all, a fun, fast read with great characters and a mysteriously dark city for them to play, love and fight in.
Cross-posted to The Book Binge.