KEEPER - by Kim Chance

KEEPER - Kim Chance
Published: January 2018 - Flux Books
Genres: Young adult / urban fantasy / romance / paranormal / contemporary
Pages: 408.
Format: eARC
Triggers/Content Advisory: Sexual innuendo and violence.
Source: Thank you so much to the publisher for sending me this book in exchange for an honest review.
When a 200-year-old witch attacks her, sixteen-year-old bookworm Lainey Styles is determined to find a logical explanation. Even with the impossible staring her in the face, Lainey refuses to believe it—until she finds a photograph linking the witch to her dead mother. After consulting a psychic, Lainey discovers that she, like her mother, is a Keeper: a witch with the exclusive ability to unlock and wield the Grimoire, a dangerous but powerful spell book. But there’s a problem. The Grimoire has been stolen by a malevolent warlock who is desperate for a spell locked inside it—a spell that would allow him to siphon away the world’s magic. With the help of her comic-book-loving best friend and an enigmatic but admittedly handsome street fighter, Lainey must leave her life of college prep and studying behind to prepare for the biggest test of all: stealing back the book.

I felt - still feel - so honoured to have been accepted as a member of Kim Chance's street team, but with the overwhelming excitement came initial hesitation. What if I didn't like her book? What if I really, really didn't like it?
For those reasons, I was equally nervous and excited to start reading this novel.

I absolutely love Chance's writing. It's effortless and easy-to-read, and the descriptions are gorgeous and tangible while - thankfully - staying un-flowery. The dialogue is also rich, and the characters' voices come through clearly.

The story is so exciting. It's fast-paced, and the structure is impeccable. The plot twists are shockers (even if other scenes are a bit predictable) and there's constant action from start to finish, keeping your adrenaline pumping and your heart racing with scenes ranging from swoony kisses to raging physical fights. It's the kind of book that when you put it down you immediately want to pick it up again. It's the purest kind of magical fun I've read in a long time - the story sucks you into a world you never want to leave. It's the most beautiful, thrilling, absolutely breathtaking kind of escapism.

While there are also a number of tropes in the book, I think Chance handles them brilliantly and makes them her own. She twists them enough so that the story feels fresh, and I found myself loving common tropes I'd usually hate, simply because she makes them work. For example, Ty is the kind of hero we've seen many times before, but Chance counters that with Lainey's personality so that their romance isn't stereotypical and Ty's still swoony, hot, lovable, and Lainey's a strong, capable girl. Likewise, with scenes like the festival, it feels original for urban fantasy because of the nature of the scene. We've seen festival drama in small town urban fantasy stories before, but we've never seen it like this.

Unfortunately the story gets a bit cheesy at times. I also feel like the comic book references are overwrought (even though a Marvel geek like myself totally related to Maggie's fangirling); it's like the author was trying too hard.
But again, since I was enjoying the story so much, these little things didn't really make a big difference in the long run. They certainly don't make or break the book.

“It’s just so rare to find someone who actually understands that Gwen Stacy was Peter Parker’s one true love."

"Sorry, but I’m not a ‘knight on a white horse’ kind of girl.”                                             “I never thought you were,” Ty said, his brow furrowed. “And it’s not like that. Being my Calling doesn’t mean I fight your battles for you. It means I stand beside you.”

The characters are vivid and easy to love. I love Lainey's personality and her character arc, although I do wish she'd had more flaws. Maggie, Try, Gareth, Serena and the Master are equally brilliant characters (I especially love Serena), although again I would've loved to have seen more dimension to them. They are amazing, but I feel like they're a bit too "boxed in their story roles". I wanted to know more about them outside of the story's mission - as human people with more than one interest, and backstories, etc.

And GUYS!! We have amazing female friendship!! And it passes the Bechdel test!! And we have girls saving girls!! There's this one scene (no spoilers) where Lainey is attacked and Maggie jumps at her attacker to try save her AND I KID YOU NOT I SQUEALED OUT LOUD AND COULDN'T STOP GRINNING. Don't get me wrong, I adore boys and girls saving each other, too, but I am such a sucker for "girls supporting girls."

And the romance!! There's a beautiful, swoony romance, people!! Ty and Lainey's relationship is the perfect balance of swoony hotness and friendship. I love how close they become and how sweet they are with each other, and I LOVE LOVE the scenes where Ty saves Lainey while never reducing her to a damsel in distress - which she most definitely is not.
I can't wait to see more of these two in the...sequel, Kim?!

Keeper is a story you'll find yourself dying - begging - to stay lost in. It's an atmospheric, thrilling, and truly heartfelt adventure with vivid characters, swoony romance, strong friendships and bloodcurdling action. 
An exciting, charming debut from a magical writer. 

FYI: If you preorder Keeper you can get amazing, signed swag from Kim! (Open international!) Find out more HERE  

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