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Gifted by Annalise Hulse (The Evangeline Devine Series)

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TITLE: Gifted

AUTHOR: Annalise Hulse

PUBLISHER: Annalise Hulse (ebook, amazon.uk.co)

LENGTH: 341 pages

SUMMARY: (via amazon.co.uk) What really happens when we die?
It wasn’t a question that seventeen year old Evangeline Devine – Evie to her friends – had ever thought about much. There was no reason why she should – her life on the small island of Jersey with her family and best friend Seth was untouched by tragedy, idyllic even.

Until the day that Evie nearly dies herself. When Seth pulls her from the watery depths that nearly claim her life, Evie is no longer the carefree girl she was. For now she is the recipient of an unwelcome supernatural gift. Now the dead are all around and impossible to ignore.
But when someone close to her dies mysteriously, Evie is forced to embrace her new power, for she may be the only one that can prove that it was no accident. Someone is getting away with murder.

With only the spirit world for guidance, Evie sets out to uncover the truth and find the vital evidence she needs to get the case re-opened. Soon she finds herself torn between her feelings for best friend Seth, who she’s begun to see in a whole new light since he saved her life, and the powerfully charismatic Piers Du Pont, who she finds herself inexplicably drawn to, even though he might just be the killer that she seeks.

As events unfold, dark secrets are revealed, loyalties are tested to their limits and Evie discovers that the path that Fate has chosen for her is more terrifying than she ever could have imagined.
Life, should she survive, will never be the same again……….

REVIEW: Always leery of self-published books that are immediately ebooks, this review was accepted with misgivings; however, Hulse’s debut turns out to be a pleasant surprise. There are few editing mistakes which are typical in self-pubbed ebooks and the writing is impressive.

But…on to the meat of the issue. The main character and the other characters’ stories are what really drives this book. Evie is confident, if even headstrong, and readers will admire her pluck. Her shining qualities are her loyalty and dedication to sincerity. The interesting thing is that while she never says something she doesn’t truly mean, that doesn’t mean that she’s always truthful. It’s difficult to create a character with principles who is also human but Hulse has accomplished just that. Seth is a loyal friend to Evie but his own story isn’t glossed over and readers will feel Seth’s struggle clearly as a subtle compliment to Evie’s conflict. Piers, too, is a fully fleshed-out character and Hulse does a great job of making the reader feel just as pulled toward Piers as is Evie. It is also refreshing to see parents play an actual role in the story. So many times characters’ parents are marginalized as uninvolved or struggling with their own demons in order to give the adolescent main character free reign. Hulse manages to capture the right balance between parents who are involved and in tune with their child while allowing interactions between characters to take place in realistic, sans-parents settings.

The plot itself is a treat. Hulse infuses a tired, talking-to-the-dead scenario with twists and turns that make it fun to read. Every time it seems the ending is predictable, Hulse throws in another twist that makes readers rethink their predictions. Ultimately, the plot is not so different than other paranormal romances but Hulse is able to craft the story in such a way that it never seems tired or cliche.

Hulse is one to watch and with three more installments in the Evangeline Devine series, there is much to look forward to with this author. Much like her small but spunky home of Jersey, Hulse is an ebook author who packs a punch. Teen fans of paranormal romance should definitely include this series on their To-Be-Read lists.

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