Joss Stirling, Stealing Phoenix

OUP, 2011, ISBN 978-0192756589

Fans of paranormal romances will love this book. Those who read Stirling’s earlier novel, Finding Sky, will be delighted to encounter the Benedict brothers again. Those who have not will enjoy it as a stand-alone (and go on, I suspect, to read its predecessor).

Phoenix is a seventeen year-old Savant who can read people’s thought patterns and freeze time - useful attributes in a thief. Like all members of her gang of Savants, she must use her powers to aid the Seer’s criminal endeavours. We first meet her at the Olympic Stadium, her task to steal the backpack of an American student. She gets it, but he has a force that equals hers. The bag bursts into flames. Her failure to give the Seer what he wants puts her in desperate danger. Forced to meet the student again, she finds herself in a battle for her own survival and that of everyone she cares for. Yves Benedict too is a Savant, as are all his family. As part of the international Savant Net they exploit their psychic abilities to combat evil. Yves recognises that he and Phoenix are each other’s Soulfinder: the soulmate without whom a Savant’s life cannot be complete. Phoenix’s love for Yves and her involvement with the Benedicts offer the Seer a means to bring down the Net. If she does not comply, she will be forced to destroy Yves or someone he loves. The drama that ensues is fast-paced and exciting, with twists and turns, destruction and romance.

The realism of the contemporary urban setting, and the importance of iphones and ipads to the plot, are offset by the most idealised family I have encountered in a long time, and an ending that is the stuff of fairy-tales. None of this will reduce its appeal to lots of teenage girls.