Sunday 27 November 2016

BOOK REVIEW: Possession by Annie Oldham

(Song and Shadow, #1)
Author: Annie Oldham
Genre: YA Paranormal Fantasy

Book Description:
Constance Jerome wants nothing more than to make it through her senior year of high school without being noticed. But when her mother drops the world's biggest bombshell, flying under the radar just isn't in the cards. It turns out Constance is a necromancer—one of the few who can travel the realms of the dead. Apparently it runs in the family. And now there's a threat coming: another necromancer with plans to disturb the living and the dead, and Constance and her mother are the only ones who can stop him. If only they knew who he was. Or what exactly he was up to. A quiet senior year isn't an option, and Constance must race to stop a high school apocalypse before the balance between the living and the dead is overturned.

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Annie Oldham's Possession explores the world of necromancy and its importance in helping to shape reality, or more specifically, how it shapes Constance Jerome's reality. The concept of necromancy, presented as a form of sorcery used to communicate with the dead, is pretty straightforward, but the practice of the craft, as Constance quickly comes to realise, isn't as easy to wrap the mind around. At the age of 17, Constance discovers a disturbing revelation from her mother that turns her world upside down: Constance is a necromancer, as is her mother. The divide between the living and the dead is one that should always remain separate, and it's the necromancer's job to maintain the balance, but when Constance hears news about someone trying to disturb the natural order of things, she realises the true danger that comes with the job.

Posession is a book that ticked many boxes for me. There were elements of magic, adventure, the supernatural and suspense. The scenes deeply rooted in necromancy, such as Constance and her mum visiting the cemetery and entering Limbo and Constance performing exorcism on her schoolmates, were highly captivating. I loved these scenes as they allowed me to engage more with the characters and become obsorbed in their world. I really felt as though I was part of the adventure, unraveling things with Constance. For me, the topic of necromancy and the way the subject was explored was entertaining. I thoroughly enjoyed these scenes.

When it came to the ordinary moments in Constance's life, such as her relationship with her parents, her school life and her relationship with the school jock Seth, I often lost interest. These moments were somewhat tedious as they were very repetitive. Because of the constant reminder of how Constance felt towards Seth, Seline, Greta, her mum, her dad, etc, it almost felt as if every scene was the same scene. We were just going around in circles. Seth came by a few times for a study session with Constance and it would always go the same way. Greta would interract with Seline, Seth's girlfriend and Constance's enemy, and the reaction from Constance would always be the same. I get that Constance is judgemental but it became frustrating to see the same scenario time and time again. I get it. Seline's a mean girl, Seth's a pushover when it comes to his girlfriend, Greta loves attention, Constance is an outcast. There was so much focus on these specific elements of the story that the important details suffered greatly. For instance, why did Seline steal the candle? I didn't get the sense she knew its purpose before she stole it so why take it? To her, it was just a candle, wasn't it?

There were numerous other issues with the plot and characterisation that I questioned. Having no explanation for certain things was also disappointing as the topic was so interesting that I really wanted to delve into it. Most of the time, the excuse wasn't good enough, that being Constance's mother having not much clue about necromancy as she was never fully informed herself. Being Constance's guide, she wasn't very helpful, and considering she's been at the necromancy gig for some time, I found it hard to believe she didn't know more than was portrayed. With certain key elements having no explanation, I had a hard time being convinced by many events that took place over the course of the book. I also wasn't very convinced by the reason behind why Seline decided to cause chaos at her school. Maybe with a little more depth to her character, I might have been a little more persuaded. Like the character Tiresias said, "Such dark power for something so trivial. Will mortals never learn?"

Despite my yearning for more explanation, or just an explanation, and more fully formed characters, I did enjoy the book. I found Constance to be an intriguing, dynamic character. She carried the story well. There were just certain elements of the plot that needed more focus. It was a good read.



Award: Silver
Rating: 3 out of 5 Stars
Source: Review copy via I Am A reader

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