Wednesday 9 July 2014

Scorched by Erica Hayes - Book Review
From the Blurb:

In a world where everyone wears a mask, you can't trust anyone… not even yourself.

Verity Fortune was once Sapphire City’s top crime-fighter, wielding her powers of telekinesis to battle the city’s most despicable villains.

Now, she’s consumed by a single burning desire -


Against those who took away her mask, her memory, and nearly her life.

Having escaped from the asylum they left her to rot in, Verity dons her mask once again and becomes the Seeker, a vigilante warrior for truth.

But when she unwittingly uncovers an evil conspiracy deep within her own family, she’s suddenly on the run, alone and hunted by those she thought were on her side…

The Review:

Superhero novels for women, by women, are my new obsession!

First came Scorched by Erica Hayes, then Sidekick by Auralee Wallace (you can find a guest post from Auralee here) and last week marked the release of The Masked Songbird by Searching for SuperWomen founder, Emmie Mears (about which I’m terribly excited, but of which I’m yet to source a copy because the Mills & Boon website apparently hates me!).

If superhero-chicks are the new women’s fiction fad, I, for one, am not complaining.

But let’s look a little more closely at Scorched by Erica Hayes, because although I kneel at the feet of this new genre (yes, with three books to start, I’m deeming it a ‘genre’), my devotion is certainly neither blind nor unconditional.

Scorched starts right in the action with Verity, aka augmented superhero “The Seeker”, escaping from an asylum. She’s been locked away by her arch nemesis for months and when she finally escapes, a lot has changed. She doesn’t know who to trust and she certainly isn’t safe. Neither is Sapphire City. She might just have jumped from the frying pan and into the fire.

As this story begins, we’re dropped right in the superhero world. This suited me, because I’m a geek and I wanted to get straight on with the story, but I can imagine a lot of readers might wish they were eased into Verity’s universe. In some ways, the beginning of the book reads almost as though it is the beginning of a sequel, rather than the first in a series.

A lot has already happened to Verity, but after her imprisonment, she struggles to remember the months leading up to her capture. Throughout the novel we get flashbacks of her life before, as she begins to unravel the mystery surrounding her father’s death and the truth behind who the real villains are.

I have to admit, I really struggled with these flashbacks. On the one hand, I liked that we were drip fed her past as an unraveling spool that fed into the main narrative, but unfortunately the structure of the flashbacks totally threw me. They were written in present tense (while the main narrative was  written in past), and this was really mind boggling to me. I suppose this stylistic choice may have been to heighten the sense of Verity’s trauma and the extremely present nature of her flashbacks, but I just couldn’t settle into it. This issue alone meant that I took quite a while to get caught up in the story and, even as it progressed, I remained a little unsettled each time a flashback popped up.

Tricky flashbacks aside, when I was absorbed by the Scorched world, I couldn’t help but be blown away by our heroine’s characterization. Verity is the triumph of this story. She is completely tortured, dark and disturbed. More of an antihero, than a heroine you want to relate to, she struggles with morality and that thick grey line separating good and evil. Verity has a rawness of character that is exceptionally rare to read, and it was this that really held up the entire novel for me. Even when, at times, I felt like there were a few too many stray strands of the story, or like the world wasn’t quite as clear as I wanted, I was desperate to read more of Verity and her twisted desperateness, so wanting to be good.

And then there's poor sweet Glimmer, our typical hero, seeking redemption by attempting to save the world. Glimmer is the second character of this novel’s sort-of-love-triangle (completed by charismatic businessman Caine), and in some ways he’s also Verity’s complete opposite. He certainly deserves so much more than our twisted anti-hero Verity, but there’s no escaping the desire for Verity to find a way to be good enough for him. We don’t get any satisfaction, though, as Scorched ends on a cliff-hanger!

The narrative of Scorched definitely wasn’t the easiest for me to relax into, but Erica Hayes has really created a heroine who is, without doubt, a quite extraordinary highlight in this novel.

More superhero chicks please! If you know any more superhero novels for women, by women, hit me up with your recommendations!!! I’m all in.

Scorched by Erica Hayes was published by HarperImpulse on May 22, 2014 and is available from Amazon.

This book was given to Love Reading Romance in exchange for an honest review.