Maya Delaney lives in a small medical research town. She’s adopted and doesn’t know much about her birth parents, other than she is part Native. She has a unique birthmark in the shape of a paw print on her hip, which seems fitting given the way animals respond to her. Aside from her innate ability to nurse injured animals back to health, Maya seems like an ordinary teenage girl. Until strange things start happening in the tiny town of Salmon Creek. Her best friend drowns despite being a star swimmer. A reporter shows up and is found dead shortly after. Maya keeps attracting the attention of the cougars in the nearby woods. And the new guy at school, Rafe Martinez, known for being a player, is taking a sudden interest in Maya for reasons that will shock her.
I was quite keen to read this book after reading and enjoying Armstrong’s Darkest Powers trilogy last year. I found this book to be quite similar in premise, which is great for fans of Darkest Powers who want more stories in the same vein. What I didn’t realize when I picked up this book is that it is actually connected to the Darkest Powers trilogy. I look forward to seeing how this plays out in the subsequent books as well as possible appearances by Darkest Powers characters.
In terms of the book itself, while I enjoyed it, it did leave me with a lot of unanswered questions. I suppose this is to be expected since Armstrong is setting up the following parts of the story. I did enjoy reading about a heroine of a different ethnicity and the small-town, middle-of-the-woods setting was a refreshing change from big cities. The book is fast-paced and keeps the reader anxious to know the truth of Maya’s mysterious heritage as well as the mystery surrounding the town. I did find Maya slightly tiresome at times in that she was a bit too perfect and seemed to expect the same from everyone around her. Thankfully, she is called on this later on in the novel so perhaps we’ll see her grow in the next books. I’m also not sure where her relationship with her best friend, Daniel, is going. I kept expecting hints of a love triangle between Maya, Daniel, and Rafe, maybe because this plot device is used so often. So far, Maya and Daniel seem platonic and I am hoping Armstrong keeps it that way as it would be nice to see a male/female friendship that doesn’t need to be anything more. I’m sure lots of others readers would disagree, though, and may be rooting for a Maya/Daniel hookup,but personally I want to explore Rafe’s character more. I guess I’ll just have to pick up the second book, The Calling, due in April 2012, to see what happens next!