Friday, October 28, 2011

Review: Sleight by Jennifer Sommersby

Sleight by Jennifer Sommbersby

publisher: self-published

release date: March 23, 2011

paperback, 328 pages

intended audience: Young adult

series: AVRA-K, book 1


source: from author for honest review

Her mom is dead. Ghosts follow her around. Her best friend is an elephant. And she’s about to meet the biggest game changer of all: a boy. With a secret. When circus-dwelling Gemma Flannery learns she will be attending public school for the first time in her seventeen years, little does she know that fitting in with her 12th-grade classmates will be the least of her concerns. A pro at hiding her knack for seeing the dead (“shades”), Gemma is grieving the recent suicide of her mentally ill mother, a process eased by the introduction of her first real love interest, the charming and painfully handsome Henry Dmitri, who is harboring his own collection of dangerous secrets. Together, they will be presented with a frightening challenge: to assume their roles as heirs to a 3000-year-old magical text, the AVRAKEDAVRA, a book the über-rich, sleight-of-being master Lucian Dmitri would do anything to get his hands on. As each terrifying layer in her new reality melts away, Gemma unearths truths that her quiet, nomadic life with the Cinzio Traveling Players is not at all what she’d always cherished. Gemma and Henry must rely on each other to stop Lucian’s diabolical plotting that will bring the world to its tired, scab-riddled knees, and are sent on the flight of their young lives, to save themselves, their families, and the world from the darkest kind of destruction. Let the chase begin.

Jennifer Sommersby has an amazing way with words and descriptions that just pulls you right in. The storytelling is fast-paced and exciting and chock full of magic, ghosts (called Shades, some scary, some not), plenty of intriguing family secrets and a cruel, conspiring villain.

Gemma Flannery, a fiery red-haired circus musician who has just lost her mother and has always had the ability to see Shades, was a fantastic character. She was principled, smart, and very much shaped by the unusual life she's been raised in with the traveling circus, perfectly rounded out with a sharp, snarky humor. Throw in a little angstiness at having to adjust to regular high school life and you have one very authentic, likable, passionate character.

The circus is her built-in family and the people she cares about most. Her best friends in the world are an outgoing trapeze artist and an elephant. There are so many great characters among them, it's hard to pin a favorite! With the introduction of Lucian and his son, Henry, things start getting a little strange and twisted. The poor girl gets hit with one shock after the next. The more Gemma learns about the role she plays in the fate of the Avra-K, a set of ancient magical books, the more Gemma's familiar world gets turned upside down. Suddenly she and the people she loves are put in terrible danger.

I really enjoyed the complexity of the love story between Gemma and Henry. It wasn't this simple thing of "I like you and you like me"...there were so many wrenches thrown into the works, so many dangers and challenges that they both had to face. They are both so involved in what is happening around them. It will be interesting to see how they get through it all as the series continues!

There was a turning point in the action that I temporarily thought would have made a better end to book one and start to book two, and it just slightly slowed the flow for me...until the chase picked up and I got to the actual end. The ENDING...WOW. Took my breath away and now has me checking Goodreads daily for any news on book 2 of this amazing series.

Definitely pick this one up! Such a great story, though I do recommend for older teens due to a few really violent and disturbing scenes.

Visit Jennifer Sommersby's site here!

Purchase Sleight at: AmazonBN.comBookDepositoryIndiebound


  1. Wow- you made this sound so good- I want this book now! I love that cover too- very bright. x

  2. This book sounds interesting, although AVRAKEDAVRA reminds me strongly of Avada Kedavra... I wonder if it's coincidence or the author was(is) a fan of Harry Potter and the word just stuck in her head :D anyhow if this book comes into my hand I won't put it aside

  3. @Princezná

    Great question, Princezna! The word Avra Kedavra is actually really old---has its origins in ancient Mesopotamia, and basically translates to "what was said has been done". It was used as a healing spell. Same origins as as the "magic" word abracababra. Pretty cool, huh? :D

  4. Thanks :) Yeah it's pretty cool :), I didn't know but I will remember it :) But it's kind of funny that it was used as a healing spell and in HP it was a killing curse... Quite an opposite...

  5. Ha ha ha, THANK YOU, Becky, for explaining that! Excellent reply. Yes, it is a healing spell, and in fact, just for the record, I've not read the Harry Potter series. (Don't throw anything at me! I will, I promise!) I didn't realize the words were similar until I watched the movies and my daughter explained the Avada Kedavra curse to me. I freaked, as my book was already almost finished at that point. Funny enough, I saw an interview with the amazing JK Rowling in which she talked about the origins of the *avrakedavra* spell in ancient times and how she just tweaked it to mean the opposite. Phew! Thanks again for the lovely review, Becky!

  6. I read this a couple of months ago, and, like you, I fell in love with the boy. Addictive storyline, lovable characters, swoon-worthy romance. This book has it all! Though it has minor imperfections, I remember being totally engrossed. I, again like you, am craving the sequel!

    - Asher (from Paranormal Indulgence)

  7. I like the sound of this - thanks for sharing your review

    Shelleyrae @ Book'd Out