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Review: The Marked Son by Shea Berkley

The Marked Son (Keepers of Life #1) by Shea Berkley
Young Adult, Fantasy Romance, Modern Fantasy
Paperback $17.99 (334 pages, ENTANGLED PUBLISHING)
Ebook $7.99

Seventeen-year-old Dylan Kennedy always knew something was different about him, but until his mother abandoned him in the middle of Oregon with grandparents he’s never met, he had no idea what.
When Dylan sees a girl in white in the woods behind his grandparents’ farm, he knows he’s seen her before…in his dreams. He’s felt her fear. Heard her insistence that only he can save her world from an evil lord who uses magic and fear to feed his greed for power.
Unable to shake the unearthly pull to Kera, Dylan takes her hand. Either he’s completely insane or he’s about to have the adventure of his life, because where they’re going is full of creatures he’s only read about in horror stories. Worse, the human blood in his veins has Dylan marked for death…
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An Exciting Romantic Modern Fantasy for Teens (5 stars)

For years Dylan Kennedy has been the victim of his mother's romantic whims. Never finding 'The One' she has dragged him from place to place never allowing him to grow roots, stay long enough to really make friends. When she once more up-ends his life hauling him to Oregon his life changes even further. This is no simple change of scenery as she chases love. She brings him to her parents' sheep farm, to meet the grandparents he's never met, who don't even know he exists. Even still his grandparents make him welcome when—like a fierce summer storm blazing through—his mother abandons him there.

Ever different but not sure why Dylan's chance encounter with a mysterious ghostly figure in the woods begins an adventure to find his destiny. For Kera, the girl in white, and Dylan share much more than just their dreams. She will lead him to a world where the very thing that made him different in his world could be it's salvation if the one thing tying him to his own doesn't get him killed first.

Ahhh, it's like peeling back the layers of an onion. I'm sorry but my attempt at a description kind of tore at it. There's a lot going on in THE MARKED SON. Action and romance, magic and shapeshifting, sword-fights and tree surfing. Tree surfing you say? Yes, tree surfing. It's a very imaginative and yet modern take on fantasy. Berkley calls them Firsts, but it would be fair to say they are a somewhat fae-like race. Their world is in turmoil of the highest sort and Dylan falls right into the middle of it.

Kera, his paramour, is a young woman of a great many secrets and their pull to one another is almost animal. One might say they are a drug to one another and incapable of giving each other up once they meet. It was the one thing that actually didn't really work for me in the storyline. I just couldn't quite buy it and part of that might have been the result of the unusual storytelling style Berkley uses. Chapters alternate between Dylan's first person accounts and third-person parts about Kera. In a way it worked to endear Dylan to me and at the same time it made me feel alienated from Kera. I liked the concept more than the execution and some readers might find the switching back and forth between perspectives bothersome.

Surprisingly the secondary characters were what made me love the story. Bodog and Lucinda, creatures from Kera's realm, in particular charmed me. I also became very fond of Dylan's grandparents. Without the great cast of background characters aiding Dylan and Kera along the way the story might have made me want to punch the two love-birds for their constant obsessing over each other. Fortunately there's plenty of fighting and escapes and magic to give it a strong sense of adventure and action.

On the whole I think this is a great modern fantasy with a strong romantic thread but enough action to entertain both male and female readers. There are a few emotional moments and if you can get past the moments of lead characters goo-goo eyeing I think it'd even be a great read for many adults who enjoy non-epic fantasy. I would definitely recommend this one to fans of The Iron Fey series or Aprilynne Pike's Wings.
Notes: Review Copy via NetGalley.

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