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Nightshade: Book 1 - Andrea Cremer Thoughts:

Ever since I heard about this title on Amazon, back in April earlier this year, I've been obsessed with this book. Stalking it up until the release date. I had high expectations of this read, and for the most part this book delivered.

The world Cremer developed is intense, especially for a young adult novel. As a first novel this is really a great way to showcase her world building skills. Calla is part of the Guardians, werewolves who serve the Keepers (witches). The Guardians listen to and do everything the Keepers tell them to do. They marry, live, and breath by the Keepers wishes. This book touches on the dark side of brain washing and what tyranny can do when left to take control. It's frustrating at times seeing the powerful Guardians brought to do tasks and actions that will leave you cringing in revulsion.

The plot moves along at a pretty fast pace so the reader can jump on in and get over all that slow build up most debuts have. As Calla slowly finds out about the truth I was eager for any tidbit I could get. I was so focused on what everything could be with the keepers, searchers, alchemy symbols, samhain night, gifts, and who the real villains are --that it was a huge slap in the face when the book ends and we're left with so little information.

This book suffered from a crappy love triangle. Shay is candidate number one. He's the new guy in town and it's love at first sight. As the plot continues we dont' get much on him and I really can't buy Calla's "love" for him. It needed more build up and time to blossom. Which is a shame because the awesome plot takes a backseat for this love triangle, clearly over shadowing how great this read could have be.

Ren is the other side of this love story. Calla's known him forever, known forever that she would marry him. Arranged marriages are like my own worst fear, so let's just say I was invested in Call getting out of it. Ren makes my fear valid. He spends a lot of the novel trying to get Calla in some kind of heated situation, even though she has to be "untouched" until the mating ceremony. Sure Ren had his awwww moments towards the end of this book, plus back history with Calla. Personally I can't get past a guy who knew he would be mating with Calla and just samples all the goods out there. It feels like cheating to me. My girl Calla sums it up, "I don't share."

As sad before the plot was really intense when it wasn't focusing on a terrible love triangle. Another plus was the side characters. Calla's pack and Ren's pack were all so fun to learn about. Each of them made an impression and I wanted more of them. The terrors that they all have to face because of the hold the Keepers on them had me worried for each member.

Now let's not forget Calla. It's hard to find strong female leads in paranormal YA. For some reason they always feel like damsels. Calla was not a damsel, but an Alpha. One heck of a one at that. It was painful watching how brainwashed she was so that she was slowing killing herself off to appease her destiny. As everyone tries to change her from Alpha to Ren's mate.

Bottom Line: Even though I disliked the love triangle enough to almost want to give this a 3/5 rating. The plot, other characters, and the many mysteries around the truth are so engaging that I can almost ignore the over shadowing love story. This is probably one of the darkest paranormal YAs out there and you don't want to miss it. Cremer has so much potential for this series and I'm dieing to get my hands on the next installment.

Sexual Content:

Make out scenes, and some more in detailed "desires" Calla is curious about as she's untouched. Ren is a little pushy in some scenes making Calla make out with him. There is some references to homosexuality and forced sex.

4/5- Great! Really enjoyed it.