If you’ve had a glance at my “bookshelf” list, you’ll have noticed a series of books by Joss Stirling popping up on there. Finding Sky, Stealing Phoenix and Seeking Crystal are a series of YA paranormal-romance novels. Each book centres on a lead female character (Sky, Phoenix and Crystal, respectively), each one trying to come to terms with their own powers and what it means to fall and be in love.
I read the series in the reverse order, meaning I read Seeking Crystal, first, though it is the newest (comes out this October), then Stealing Phoenix and finally Finding Sky. So, in keeping with how I first read the books, I’m going to review the series in reverse order.
I first became intrigued by Seeking Crystal while writing some promotional copy for the book as part of my internship. It sounded really interesting and so I borrowed a copy, took the book home, and read it in 4 hours. Seeking Crystal is about a girl, Crystal Brook, who is from a family of Savants– humans with paranormal powers (telepathy, telekinesis, healing, etc)– only she’s not very good at any of it. Her sister, Diamond (yeah, they all have some cheesy names, but you will stopped noticing) is a pretty awesome Savant and has overshadowed her for much of her life. While on a trip to Denver, Diamond meets Trace Benedict, one of seven Benedict brothers–all Savants– and finds out he’s her “soulfinder”. The idea of the soulfinder is that every Savant has one; a soulfinder is more than just true love, they complete each other and their powers. So, naturally, Diamond and Trace arrange to get married, and Crystal is introduced to Trace’s brother, the annoying yet sometimes charming Xav. As the book’s blurb says “the personality clash is explosive” and, needless to say, the two don’t get along. Without giving the rest of the book away, Xav and Crystal eventually have to work together to save their loved ones from an old enemy on the hunt for revenge.
(See the rest of the review under the cut)
From an adult’s point of view, it was a quick and simple read, but that doesn’t stop the fact that I absolutely loved every second of it; I was sad when the book ended. Since I started reading the loosely-named “series” in reverse, I had no idea what was going to happen. Stirling did a great job of introducing all of the characters, their powers, and the world that they inhabit, without giving too much away about the first two, and without making it difficult for new readers to understand.
Overall, I loved it all, especially Xav, who reminds me of a young, fanon version of Sirius Black (fun, flirty, good looking, irritating at times) from the Harry Potter series. Crystal as the voice of the book was someone I could relate to, despite my non-teenager status of 23.
After Seeking Crystal I moved on Stealing Phoenix. It was never my intent to read them backwards, but that’s just how it worked out.
I liked Stealing Phoenix decidedly less, and it remains, after finishing the series so-far, my least favourite of the three. In Stealing Phoenix, the title character, Phoenix (Phee) is a part of a band of criminal Savants. Ruled over by a man who calls himself the Seer, she is given a job and a mark. The punishment for failure is unthinkable, but Phee has never failed. With her powers, she can stop time, and uses that to steal from her mark: Yves (pronounced ‘Eve’) Benedict, but Yves catches her in the act. Much to Phee’s horror, she discovers that he’s her Soulfinder. Add some more criminal Savants to the mix and you’ve got an adventure waiting to happen.
I read this one in about 4 hours as well, but I didn’t find the story as compelling, or Phee as easy to relate to, and found her reminiscent of Bella from Twilight. She was a bit dumb at times, didn’t clue in to the fact that there was any plan going on when really she should have, and had to be rescued way too often for my liking. I will give the book bonus points for coming up with some creepy punishments and powers, but it definitely loses it for a predictable main character. I also felt many of the main “good guys” were a bit sexist, which is always disappointing.
Finally, I read the first in the series: Finding Sky. I can’t decide if I like this book more, less, or the same as Seeking Crystal. This one seemingly had the most relationship-development in it. Sky, just moved from England to Colorado, can’t help but be drawn to the dark, dangerous and mysterious figure of Zed, the youngest in the Benedict clan, and the most volatile. This story is more about Sky overcoming her traumatic past than anything. What I liked most about it was that Zed spends a lot of time getting to know Sky. I might have to re-read it to get a full and final verdict on that, but it certainly seemed to be the case when I read it. This one gets lots of brownie points for a twisted revenge plot.
Overall I really loved this series. I’m in the process of re-reading Seeking Crystal right now, and I still think it’s pretty great. I have some problems with it though, mainly with the way in which women are sometimes portrayed and spoken about. I mean, we don’t all love chocolate and like pet names. It’s disappointing to see men refer to “their women”, etc. If I could change one thing, I’d change those aspect of the series, but it’s not something that would stop me from reading more, should Stirling continue the series. That said, I found the romance adorable and… well… romantic. I wish I could get my own Benedict man!
For the series as a whole I give the rating: 7/10
I can’t wait to see more. I mean, is there something wrong with the fact that I’ve enjoyed this YA novel so much? Hopefully not!