Author: Tracy Wolff
Genre: Fiction/ YA/ Fantasy/ Mystery
Source: Kindle Unlimited
Favourite Quote: ‘”Like it’s right there, waiting for you to just reach out and grab it, but you’re so terrified of what will happen when you lose it that you never make the reach?”
“Yes,” he says, again, his voice low and deep and comforting in a way that burrows inside me.
I tilt my head up until our eyes meet, and then I whisper, “What did you do?”
For long seconds, he doesn’t say anything. He doesn’t do anything. He just stares back at me with a look in his eyes as scarred and broken as the rest of him. And says, “I decided to take it away.”‘
After losing her family in a car accident, Grace finds herself on a long journey to Alaska; a flight through a storm, a tiny plane over mountains and a 90 minute snowmobile ride through the wilderness, she soon finds herself staring up at the gothic castle looming around the mountainside, a place she now has to call home.
Katmere Academy is an elite boarding school, where her uncle Finn is the headmaster and the only family she has left along with her cousin Macy, who is willing to do anything to make her feel at home. Only the school itself is not all it seems. Its students are divided into factions that don’t ever mix, everyone goes outside without protective layers from the frozen Alaskan weather, and Macy avoids all questions about what goes on around the secretive school and it’s strange behaviours. It’s only when Grace starts to connect the dots around the mysterious Jaxon Vega who keeps showing up wherever she goes, that she soon realises that everything she believed to be fantasy, just turned reality, and the fantasy wants her dead.
‘”What is wrong with you?”
“Got a century or three?” His smirk is back – he’s obviously proud of getting to me – and for a moment, just a moment, I think about how satisfying it would be to punch him right in the centre of that annoying mouth of it.
“You know what? You really don’t have to be such a -”
“Don’t tell me what I have to be. Not when you don’t have a clue what you’ve wandered into here.”
“Oh no!” I do a mock-afraid face. “Is this the part of the story where you tell me about the big, bad monsters out here in the big, bad Alaskan wilderness?”
“No, this is the part of the story where I show you the big, bad monsters right here in this castle.”
Here one for all you Twilight lovers out there! A fantasy romance full of vampires, witches, dragons, warlocks and werewolves. I’m sure this will be a guilty pleasure for some. I for one will admit that the Twilight-esque cover drew me in in hopes of another vampire romance I could obsess over.
Unfortunately, like most vampire romance these days, I felt a lot of the story just stole pieces of Twilight and mixed them into a Harry Potter gothic castle with additional fantasy characters to attempt something new. Don’t get me wrong, I still enjoyed getting lost in the story, but it missed the spark I was looking for.
In a brief summary, you have the elusive bad boy who runs with a small group feared by all in the school who goes out of his way to protect our main protagonist from a distance, being incredibly needy with her whilst also trying to stay away from her by running away but coming back when he realises it’s pointless to run and is determined to stay by her side for all eternity? Yeah. That sums it up. I mean, the fact that they live in Alaska which was Twilights recommended location for hiding from the world as a vampire, as well as the fact that Jaxon literally gives Grace a copy of Twilight with a quote from it to warn her away. *rolls eyes* Just take another look at the cover if you’re still not convinced.
For all that, I thought the plot was pretty good, Grace being the only human in the school is already someone of interest, but when ‘accidents’ start to happen all around her, even the protection of Jaxon and his brothers isn’t enough to stop the murderous intent of someone in the school. Although besides the obsessive first love forbidden infatuation between the two main characters with five minutes of meeting each other and the altitude sickness that goes on for wayy to long at the start of the book, I felt the book was missing emotion at times. Grace had just lost her entire family and had to leave her life behind to move to the middle of nowhere in the mountains of Alaska, yet she was so obsessed with Jaxon that you tended to forget why she was there in the first place or the amount of danger she is in whilst being surrounded by supernatural beings. Ignorance is bliss.
Grace herself was a bit of an annoying character for me. She had clearly been through a lot with her parents death to warrant someone with experience and maturity, she stands up for herself when she needs too all the while silently coming to grips with her new life in a new school with new family and friends as well as enemies. She has all the characteristics you would expect from someone in her situation, anxiety, fear of the unknown, desperate to blend into the crowd instead of being the centre of attention, but also strong and determined to push through each day. So far so good for our main character. But then she nose dives into an obsessed lovestruck teenager and all thoughts go to Jaxon Vega and his bad boy secrecy. It doesn’t help that for the majority of the book you only have her perspective to see through. I say majority because you actually get to see Jaxon’s perspective towards the end which brings a bit more depth to the story you didn’t have previously.
‘Stillness and an agony so deep I can barely see it behind the layers and layers of defenses he’s erected. But I can see it. More, I can feel it calling to my own pain. So awful I can barely stand it. So awe-inspiring that I can’t stop it.
So I don’t. And neither does he.
Instead, we stand there, frozen. Devastated. Connected in a way I can feel but can’t comprehend by our very separate horrors.
I don’t know how long we stay like that, staring into each others eyes. Acknowledging each other’s pain because we can’t acknowledge our own. At least until he reaches out and gently takes hold of one of my million curls. And just that easily, I forget how to breathe again.’
Macy was a sweet character who just wanted to make Grace feel welcomed and find a place to call home after everything that happened. Unfortunately she comes across immediately as distrustful with all the secrets and avoidance even though she’s doing it out of protection. I wasn’t sure how long she was supposed to keep the charade up considering the school is made up of magic classes and supernatural beings but she tries. It would have been cool to see more of her powers.
I like the additional characters in the book that helped to bring the school to life, but they were quite limited, mostly Flint and Lia and a few surrounding faces. I would have appreciated this aspect more if the author gave you chance to get to know the brief few characters better, however that wasn’t the case so you felt the school was a lot smaller than what it was considering it was based inside a huge castle. You knew other students existed in their factions of witches, werewolves, warlocks, dragons and vampires, but you didn’t get to know each faction individually which was a bit of a let down. I hope the author makes up for it in the next book because that could have really brought the atmosphere to life.
I would have loved to have seen a bit more of the gothic castle itself along with its supernatural classes and a few more interactions with the various factions before the romance took over completely. There was so much potential in the location that went unused besides a few creepy underground passageways and endless snowy grounds.
Overall I wasn’t entirely impressed, but I would still recommend it for those who love a good vampire romance.
My whole world changed when I stepped inside the academy. Nothing is right about this place or the other students in it. Here I am, a mere mortal among gods…or monsters. I still can’t decide which of these warring factions I belong to, if I belong at all. I only know the one thing that unites them is their hatred of me.
Then there’s Jaxon Vega. A vampire with deadly secrets who hasn’t felt anything for a hundred years. But there’s something about him that calls to me, something broken in him that somehow fits with what’s broken in me.
Which could spell death for us all.
Because Jaxon walled himself off for a reason. And now someone wants to wake a sleeping monster, and I’m wondering if I was brought here intentionally—as the bait.