Thanks to NetGalley for the ARC.
Kami Garcia is well-known to lots of teens already as one of the co-authors in the Beautiful Creatures series. Here's my review of her first solo YA venture, which also appears on Goodreads.
Kennedy and her mom have a nice life in DC. Kennedy is fairly introverted, preferring drawing in her room to going out to party. But when Kennedy comes home one evening and discovers that her mom has died of apparent heart failure, her world quickly crumbles. She can't imagine moving in with her aunt, so they compromise on a boarding school. A couple of nights before Kennedy is due to move from the house, she is wakened violently, unable to breathe, and discovers her cat on her chest sucking the air from her. Two strangers burst into her room with guns and shoot the malevolent spirit that was trying to kill her. The two strangers turn out to be hot twin brothers Lukas and Jared, and they explain to Kennedy that her mom wasn't the only one to die that fateful night-- her mom was apparently one of five members of a secret society charged with protecting the world from the demon Andras, and all five members were killed in the same way that night. Since membership in the Legion of the Black Dove is passed through a family, they've come to convince Kennedy to join forces with them and two other teens, Alara and Priest. Kennedy would prefer to stay in the home where she and her mother spent the past 17 years until it's time to leave for boarding school, but the malevolent spirits take that option off the table when they destroy the house. Kennedy and the twins escape in the nick of time and she reluctantly joins the other four as they search for the weapon that old journals say will destroy the demon. I was swept up in the beginning with good solid character building, but as the story went on, I found that the characters actually got more two-dimensional, and the love triangle between Kennedy and Jared and Lukas just seemed too rushed and weird. Alara's a perfectly lovely girl, even if she does have a tough exterior, yet both of the twins seem completely captivated by Kennedy as soon as they meet her. Really? But the creepy factor is high, with the group traveling from an abandoned mansion to an abandoned orphanage, to an abandoned prison, and meeting lots of violent ghosts along the way (which they are able to vanquish with Priest's cool homemade anti-ghost duct-taped contraptions). The action-driven novel culminates in a final showdown between Kennedy and the ghost of a serial killer in the haunted prison, and (** SPOILER ALERT **) when the weapon that the kids have managed to assemble has the final piece put in, it does indeed destroy the serial killer's ghost, but-- OOPS!-- apparently gives Andras even MORE power than he had to begin with. Will the group go on to vanquish the demon in upcoming volumes? Will Kennedy ever believe she's one of the group? Will Lukas and Jared learn to get along? Lots of questions remain to be answered in this overall fun if somewhat contrived quick read.