The Never is a place of greys, a world a breath beyond our own, layered just past the memories of yesterday and the fleeting present moment. It is here, in this dismal limbo, that ghosts such as Piotr, Lily, and Elle must sort out an existence, both protecting the children called Lost and themselves from the walking darkness that is the army of rotting Walkers.
Caught between her duty to her calling as the Lightbringer and her concern for her new ghostly friends, Wendy must walk the line between the two worlds, aiding Piotr in his fight against the Walkers as well as searching out the wandering soul of the one who means the most to her. Time, however, is running out and in the end… who will she choose?
LIGHTBRINGER was a book of visceral reactions for me; characters and mythology that I adored juxtaposed against a villain that I absolutely hated. The teenagers of this story, both dead and alive, piece together their own interpretation of the magic around them in a fashion that I found riveting. Even better, by book’s end I had more confidence in the children’s new interpretation of the relationship between spirits and Lightbringers than anything that was revealed by authoritative adults.
While McEntire does give us a villain (who was so loathsome I could barely stand to read her dialogue in the end), the main thrust of this story revolves around these teenage characters trying to make sense of their world. Wendy learns about her family, her friendships and the world around her in an organic and realistic way. The smooth integration of home, school, and magic was impressive. The supporting characters, as well, break out of all the stereotypical boxes that siblings, friends, and love interests fall into to become nuanced and interesting in their own right. Only Wendy’s father remains fuzzy and vague in the background, but that provides a vacuum of responsibility to keep the pressure on Wendy to hold her family together as well as fulfill her Buffy-esque Lightbringer duties. Even Elle, whose flapper cant was so obnoxious I skipped it whenever possible, still managed to have a nuanced relationship with Piotr that piqued my interest.
Elle’s speech patterns was the only aspect of LIGHTBRINGER that felt like it wasn’t achieving McEntire’s intended effect (my hatred of the villain, though over the top virulent, was masterfully fanned by the author). Those two reactions were enough knock this book down a bat, if only because they took me out of the story, but the positives are striking enough that I’ll be back for more. Though LIGHTBRINGER is satisfying as a stand alone novel, there is definitely room to continue into a series. Regardless, well paced action, interesting relationships and an emphasis on character growth all combine to guarantee that I’ll keep my eyes peeled for McEntire’s next offering, whatever it may be.