I can’t weep. I can’t fear. I’ve grown talented at pretending.
Elizabeth Caldwell doesn’t feel emotions . . . she sees them. Longing, Shame, and Courage materialize around her classmates. Fury and Resentment appear in her dysfunctional home. They’ve all given up on Elizabeth because she doesn’t succumb to their touch. All, that is, save one—Fear. He’s intrigued by her, as desperate to understand the accident that changed Elizabeth’s life as she is herself.
Elizabeth and Fear both sense that the key to her past is hidden in the dream paintings she hides in the family barn. But a shadowy menace has begun to stalk her, and try as she might, Elizabeth can barely avoid the brutality of her life long enough to uncover the truth about herself. When it matters most, will she be able to rely on Fear to save her?
After finishing this book, I couldn’t decide if I wanted to review this book on my weekly blog post, because I normally reserve my posts for books that I would give a higher rating. But there is still something very special about this book. I think that there might be some readers out there who would appreciate this book like I did. I would definitely not want that opportunity to be wasted.
If you were looking for a really special and different book, one that will surprise you, I would highly recommend this. It doesn’t fit into categories that most people would use, but honestly it’s what I needed to read at the time. Sometimes with all of the books I read, it’s easy to just keep choosing the same kind of book. While I am usually drawn to the paranormal genre, because the possibilities are endless, that doesn’t mean that the genre isn’t repetitive. There are alot of paranormal books out there telling the same story. This is not one of those books.
The main character, Elizabeth Caldwell, is an unusual girl. She doesn’t actually feel emotions. She sees them as beings. When someone is feeling a certain emotion or even more than one, she can see that emotion standing by that person, touching him or her in some sort of way. While the being isn’t “labeled” per say, she can tell what the emotion is, because she has been seeing them for years. She hasn’t always been like this though. At a very young age, she was in a car accident. From the moment she survived the accident she has been this way.
I don’t know what it is to feel.
I can’t experience the freedom of grief, the abandon of ecstasy, the release of fury. And of course I can’t be curious about these experiences.
I don’t have the luxury of the people around me. I can’t weep, I can’t lust, I can’t cower in terror, I can’t celebrate. Not in a true sense; I’ve grown talented at the art of pretending. The only sensation I’m capable of–not an Emotion but something physical–is a sort of…. nothingness that’s always there.
While she tries to hide her lack of emotions from the people in her life, her parents and kids at school, one Emotion seems drawn to her more than others. He’s fascinated with her. Fear. The author’s description of this character is otherworldly, beautiful, white blonde hair, cold blue eyes. He tastes of strawberries and terror. He knows that there is something different about her, besides her lack of feeling him. He is a definite highlight in this book. I kind of pictured a younger Eric Northman from True Blood, in my head.
Unlike humanity, Fear and all the rest of him have no governors or presidents or kings. They’re ruled by their own natures, hard-wired into every pore, vein, eyelash. And Emotions are not alone in all their purpose. There is a design for every single thing. There is a being for Light, Song, Wind, Grass, Life and Death. Winter, Spring, Fall. The Elements and the Seasons. They are part of our world and apart from it. They exist on another plane, spirit-like creatures that humans can’t hear or see…unless they’re strange, like me. There doesn’t seem to be a limit to how many places they can be at once.
So Elizabeth does her best to react the way that she thinks people expect her to, but she’s doing a poor job of it lately. First, her parents don’t really care for her. There are some dark scenes of abuse, that I should warn people about. The author is not gratuitous about it, and it is written well. Teachers and the counselor at school notice, but she sticks to her “story” to protect her family. One other person notices though. Joshua Hayes, a childhood friend that she can’t help admiring herself when they are forced to work on a poetry project for school. I liked him immediately, because he won’t back down from her. He is definitely the hero in this book for me. There isn’t much of a physical description for him though. Only that he’s got longer hair that tends to hang in his eyes, and that it’s red.
Some of the secondary characters that are also worth mentioning are Maggie, her only friend at school, and her brother, Charles, who finally stands up for her in the end.
After an interesting conversation with Fear, and another bad encounter with her mother, Elizabeth finally wants to know the true. Her dreams that she’s been having all her life are changing, and the line of reality is now blurring. She decides to do some research at the local library to find out more about her accident. She, for the first time in her life, asks for help. Joshua is very willing to break down the wall that Elizabeth has built around her, because he doesn’t believe her, when she tries to explain her lack of emotions.
As I make an effort not to lose myself in theories, the boy doesn’t wait for me to reply. He bends his head once more, flipping over some newspapers, looking for any stories about me. I’m beginning to realize Joshua Hayes, is a paradox; he’s simple yet complex, direct yet thoughtful, eager yet patient. Just when I believe I have him labeled and put into a box, he says or does something that forces me to reconsider.
I will say that it’s not until the halfway mark that things start to get interesting or I guess, the storyline changes and takes an even darker turn. Joshua really gets to her, and it doesn’t go unnoticed by Fear. It makes for an unusual love triangle, but I don’t know if I would even consider this a love story. Love and attraction are definitely involved, but we are experiencing the story through Elizabeth’s point of view. Because of her lack of emotion, it’s difficult to not feel “empty” like her as a reader. The author does an amazing job of getting you into every scene, in spite of that. Also, the setting of rural Edson, Wisconsin, makes for the perfect location for feeling isolated for sure. This story is quiet at first, so it felt slow in the beginning. The title and cover is perfect though.
There is a very dark character that makes an appearance that kind of reminds me of the dark demons in a Supernatural episode. Nightmare. With this appearance there is quite a bit of real violence and torture in the later part of the book. We find out by the end who Elizabeth really is and where she came from. She has to come to a decision as to stay the way she is or choose a new path. It’s a compelling choice that I know I would struggle with, but it’s the right one for her.
“Their world is frightening,” I whisper. “I don’t know if I can go back into it.”
His words are soft a mouse wouldn’t be able to hear them, but they waft over to me on the air. “As a wise human girl once told me, you fear what you don’t understand…Humanity is a choice, power or no power.”
This is not the typical paranormal story, but I know that sometimes you need to step away from the norm, and read something that will get you thinking about the world around you in a different way. The way that certain people can affect you or make you feel or not feel. The choices you make can change people’s lives.
I was truly surprised by this story and this character. She wants to hide, but takes the road less traveled to get to the right place for her. There is a second book coming out, but this book can definitely be read on its own. There is no cliffhanger, so it ends as it should. That doesn’t mean I wouldn’t want to read more about this world that Kelsey Sutton created.
I give this book 4.5 intriguing stars, and put it on my “middle shelf interesting reads” shelf on Goodreads.
Here’s a link to Kelsey Sutton’s blog. http://www.kelseysutton.blogspot.com/
***I was given an copy of the book from Netgalley, for an honest review***