Ladybird, Labybird

Abra Ebner. Crimson Oak (, $16.99 (172p) ISBN 978-0-9829505-4-8
Combining fairy-tale elements and a paranormal romance sensibility, this teen melodrama offers intriguing imagery, but suffers from syrupy prose, formulaic characters, and confusing plot points. Samantha was born under a full moon, surviving where her mother did not, and has been raised by her alcoholic, abusive father who blames her for her mother's death. Alienated, alone, and miserable, she only looks forward to two things: time with her horse and the mysterious keys her mother sends her from beyond the grave, which unlock various gifts. Her temperature abnormally high, Samantha burns others with her touch, further setting her apart. Then she meets soft-spoken Leith, and their whirlwind romance threatens to change everything. For the first time, she's truly happy, but living happily ever after (at least in this world) might still be beyond her grasp. Readers may find that Ebner's (Parallel) awkward phrasing and sometimes prosaic narrative ("I have an average body with curves that attract all the right thoughts from a boy's mind, such as sweet, cute, and sometimes sexy”) lessen the enigma of Samantha's condition, while a surprising revelation leads to an abrupt and frustrating conclusion. Ages 12–up. (Sept.)
Reviewed on: 11/14/2011
Release date: 09/01/2011
Paperback - 174 pages - 978-1-4565-7710-0
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