Jolly Fish Press, 2015
(Click here to read my review of book 1 of the Unseen series, Eleanor)
After the events of Eleanor, the frightened and secretive shapeshifter, Eleanor Anders, is working to adjust to the tentative beginnings of a new family. After the death of her adoptive mother, she's been taken in by the family of her boyfriend, David Venn, and the friends she couldn't keep from accumulating at school last year aren't going anywhere now. But as Eleanor has always known, attention is dangerous for her. The rumors surrounding her, spanning from promiscuity to Satanism to details perilously closer to the truth, aren't going anywhere either, and when Celeste, the girl from whom Eleanor borrows her physical form, is reported missing, people outside the small town of Jamesford begin to take notice of her reclusive doppleganger, including people who might have the means to learn the truth about her. Eleanor is trapped between her love for her fragile new life and her ancient instinct to run.
The motivations of the Venn family can be a little overly convenient. David’s mother, her edict that David and Eleanor behave as brother and sister for as long as they are legally foster siblings, and her questionable sentiments toward Eleanor beyond the fact that she’s important to David, fade in and out of the story at odd intervals until they’re finally brought to a sudden breaking point that feels a bit out of nowhere. David himself goes through a period of rejecting Eleanor just because of a gut aversion to her inhuman physiology, which after an entire book with him as the unconditionally accepting friend whom Eleanor would be wise to trust with the truth about herself, feels an out of character betrayal. Certainly Eleanor and David’s relationship was due for some serious rockiness, but his situation, stuck between Eleanor and her lingering distrust, his disapproving mother, and the unwelcome return of his mentally unbalanced father, could have been more than enough fuel.
If, like me, you didn’t know how you’d be able to wait once you found out Eleanor would be the start of a series, you won’t be disappointed. Heroic yet vulnerable Eleanor is back, building her confidence and her life one fragile, beautiful step at a time. As in any good second installment, the stakes have been raised, and the snowballing feud between Eleanor’s supporters and detractors and the impending notice by the outside world create a slowly sharpening backdrop of dread to Eleanor’s rising optimism. The action is more intense this time around as well, to a sometimes horrific degree that’s quite all right by me, and that mounting dread leads to a both clever and heart pounding final sequence that will make the wait for the next book even more torturous than this one was.
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