TITLE: Unnatural Souls (A Realm of the Claimed Prequel)
AUTHOR: Linda Foster
PUBLISHER: Glass House Press
A year ago, Grace was in an accident that should have killed her. In fact it did--her soul left her body, and she saw her own lifeless self as she began ascending to Heaven. But then her brother, Ash, sold his soul to a demon to save her life, and suddenly, she found herself back on Earth. Now, the clock is counting down to the day when the demon returns to collect Ash's soul. Not only is Grace devastated over her brother's impending doom, but since returning to life, she's discovered that she possesses a number of supernatural powers--teleportation, telekenesis, the ability to see dead people... and she can't control any of them. So when the Archangel Michael offers to help her learn how to wield her powers and give her a way to save Ash in exchange for her agreeing to help in the inevitable war brewing between Heaven and Hell, she sees little choice but to agree. But Michael won't be the one teaching her... that task falls to Kali, a demon seeking redemption. And furthermore, demons are hunting Grace because of her powers.
Holy wow, this is an amazing little book! I'm a huge fan of stories about angels and demons, and so this story really hit the spot to me. UNNATURAL SOULS a follow-up to Linda Foster's previous Realm of the Claimed novella, FALLEN SOULS, which told the stories of how Ash sold his soul and how Kali fell from Heaven, but it does fine as a standalone. Knowing Ash and Kali's backstories certainly made UNNATURAL SOULS a richer read (and I highly recommend you pick it up too!). But if you just walked into UNNATURAL SOULS without knowing it's a follow-up, you'd be totally fine. Foster does a fantastic job of orienting the reader to the world, the stakes, and the situation right away.
Pause for disclosure: Linda and I are both published with Glass House Press. However, neither Linda nor Glass House requested that I write this review, and everything I'm saying reflects my honest opinion as a reader.
Anyway, back to the fangirling. Can I just say, I love love love Grace, a character who goes from a terrified girl facing confusing and devastating circumstances to a kickass supernatural warrior. Her voice rings from the page--her anguish, her frustration, her anger, her confusion... She really comes to life, and you really get to know all her nuances and complexities through Foster's gorgeous writing. She's also one of those characters who feels honest, like a real person holding nothing back as you follow her thoughts and actions through the story. I also loved Kali, who makes a huge splash even though she's a supporting character. She's not entirely likable--in fact, sometimes, she's downright mean to Grace--but that's what makes her so interesting. She's a fallen angel who's spent an eternity in Hell, and yet you soon realize why Michael has faith in her and believes the core of her to be ultimately good.
The fast-paced action scenes--supernatural battles with the demons hunting Grace and Ash--in UNNATURAL SOULS were a real thrill to read. The book had me on the edge of my seat as it barreled toward its dramatic conclusion, which is satisfying enough for the time being but promises more awesome things to come (Foster has two more Realm of the Claimed novellas coming out soon, all leading up to the first full-length book in the series, SOUL BOUND).
I made the mistake of picking up this book super late at night, thinking I'd just read a chapter and go to sleep. Well... let's just say I had one heckuva book hangover the next day from staying up far, far, far too late. So you have been warned: UNNATURAL SOULS will suck you in, and you'll probably read it all in one sitting (it's only 100 pages or so long). I'm still reeling over how Foster managed to pack so much richness--worldbuilding! character development! action! drama! twists!--into such a little book, which is both a great read in its own right and a tantalizing teaser for more awesomeness to come.
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