Sarah Fine’s “Marked”

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“Marked” was a good read. Sarah Fine does a superb job at creating a supernatural story line that is unique and gripping while blending in a love story that only gets more complicated as you go. The time period isn’t incredibly well-defined but it definitely has a post-apocalyptic vibe to it. Large cities now lack running water and most people are far worse off than they are today. Crime is rampant and unless you land a once-in-a-lifetime position, you’re going to struggle for all that you have.

Our hero, Eli, is a paramedic whose sister lands just such an opportunity at Harvard so they move to Boston which is one of the much better off cities. There he meets Cacia, our heroine, who has a far more interesting background. Her family are Charons (as in mythological guide to the dead). The family publicly runs the largest company in the city while privately helping souls of the departed go either to Heaven of Hell (though there isn’t much religion to it if that’s off-putting for you). Cacia, the rebel, is a paramedic by day in the hopes that it will balance out her familial responsibilities. With her secret life, it of course makes any relationship difficult. And as the story progresses, it becomes harder and harder for the two to come together.

The love story isn’t subtle at all though it’s also not very steamy. This is the first in a series and it’s much more about setting a foundation and building up the tension. You’ll nearly be at the end by the time you see that tension released. But I thoroughly enjoyed the foundation that Fine sets here. I’m always one to appreciate a story line after all. The characters are well-formed and have distinct personalities that make it easier to relate, connect, and cheer for (or against) them. The writing in general is strong, too. It does get a bit repetitive as that aforementioned tension builds, but it’s not terrible or distracting. Frustrating to the reader maybe, for reasons other than writing style.

My last review here, Dark Witch, was mostly about my disappointment at how the potential for a supernatural story fell to the wayside. This book is the complete opposite. It moves quickly and information is shared along the way so you don’t get bogged down trying to understand and remember all the moving pieces. This book is on a more basic level as far as the supernatural conflict goes. But there were clear hints at a more complex otherworld to be revealed as we go. And—no spoilers—but how things ended in this book make for a great scandal to kick off book number two.

5 out of 5 Whatzits I’ve never read anything by her before, but I’m definitely reading the next book and checking out other things she’s written. My only issue with this book was there’s a little bit of fuzziness about how all the different, well, creatures fit into the big picture. But I imagine that will become clearer as I continue in the series.

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