Author: D.E.L. Connor
Author website: www.dellaconnor.com
The Concealing is the first book in the “Spirit Warriors” series meant for ages 13 and up. The story revolves around a young teenager named Emmeline Belrose and her friends living in rural Montana fighting a malevolent ancient Indian spirit called the “Machayiwiw”. They fight this ancient spirit through acquiring the power to bind with certain animals and leave their own bodies behind, for example, Emme is able to bind with a powerfully large osprey named Eros.
The plot is strong and features everything you would expect in a young adult book in this day and age. In a period when a genre is so enraptured by magicians, vampires, and greek gods, it seems appropriate that a supernatural plot line focusing on legends of the American Indian would strike a chord.
But we all know what will happen, right? After all, these sorts of series have ultimately become formulaic. First, you have a young group of close friends. Second, you have a bad guy. Third, they discover they have supernatural powers. Fourth, they defeat bad guy. Throw in a little prophesy and a love triange, and presto! A book series is born.
Is this all there is to the Spirit Warriors? Fortunately for us readers, not at all. The absolute brightest points of the book encompass real issues of youth today. Family interactions with Emme and her friend Lilly are powerful. Darker themes of abuse and suicide are addressed in a way that is both touching and meaningful. Sexuality is addressed not only among the main characters of Emme and Charlie, but also among their friends, one of which is gay.
Emotions run hot, and the reader will find themselves sympathizing in one way or another with things that are happening in their own lives. As an adult, I can remember feeling the way these “kids” were feeling. Connor does a wonderful job evoking these emotions.
The best thing about this book is that it has a consistent “heartbeat”. The prose isn’t ordinary. It doesn’t follow the well trodden path of how you should write a book. I would think that it would make an editor punch themselves in the face, but for the reader, it’s a comfortable pace that is the literary equivalent of a nice, hot, relaxing, bath.
In today’s literary marketplace, there is a huge emphasis on making books that read like you’re watching a movie. Short, quick dialogue with action on every page. No extra words allowed! One’s prose must be the square peg that fits the square hole.
The Concealing is a wonderful departure from the marketplace formula. Often there are no breaks from following the character of Emme, and though you would think that such mundane tasks as brushing off a horse or getting ready for bed would be hard on a reader, it ends up being the metronome that sets the pace of the story and gives the characters a living breath.
The Bottom Line: A fun book to read for all ages, especially for the 13 to 16 crowd. Unusual prose that sets a comfortable pace and leaves you wanting more.
– Don Ellisor