Other, by Karen Kincy

Author: Karen Kincy
Publisher: Flux
Genre: YA Paranormal Mystery/Romance
Call number: YPB Kincy (this book will be published in July, so look out for it soon!)
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars (really liked it)

The appealing characters and genre blending won me over in this debut teen novel. Other takes place in a slightly different modern world, in which Others (supernatural creatures) have come out of the closet, so to speak, and are living publicly among normals. Gwen, the protagonist, lives in a Washington backwater where the locals view Others with suspicion and fear, so she hides her identity as half-pooka (a Welsh shapeshifting spirit – Gwen can become a horse, cat, owl, and other animals), even from her uber-Christian boyfriend Zach. Then Others around town and in surrounding areas like Seattle start being murdered, including a close friend of Gwen’s, so this coming-of-age novel turns into a serial killer mystery. Romance develops between Gwen and a cute boy named Tavian, who happens to be a kitsune (Japanese fox spirit), after Zach flips out when Gwen tells him the truth about her being half-pooka.

This first novel has a lot going on, plot-wise, but instead of being schizophrenic, it totally works. Everything falls together a little neatly, but it’s a well-earned happy ending. The parallels between Others and other marginalized groups — especially homosexuals — grow a little bit pointed after a while, but the parallels are still good ones and help make Gwen’s identity struggles more relatable. Gwen and Tavian are super adorable (Tavian is a little perfect, to be honest, but I forgive him because he’s a nice, normal guy with a mostly positive attitude, a change from the brooding, unkind, mysterious romantic leads in so many teen paranormal romances). The mystery provides a goodly amount of suspense and danger, though it’s not hard to figure out the identity of the serial killer (it’s still a great reveal, however). Gwen is sympathetic and believable, especially in her grief over the murder of her best friend and losing her boyfriend Zach over her heritage.

I really enjoyed this one, and I hope Kincy writers more with these characters.

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