At the end of My Soul to Keep, the relationship between Kaylee and Nash was in limbo. My Soul to Steal opens with Nash recovering but guilt-ridden, Kaylee not quite ready to forgive him, and Nash’s ex-girlfriend Sabine arriving on the scene. Nash and Sabine had an intense relationship two years ago but parted without closure after Tod’s death. Now, Sabine is determined to take advantage of the rift between Nash and Kaylee, and take Nash back for herself.
Oh, and Sabine is a mara, or Nightmare, who feeds by giving people horrible dreams and soaking up their fears. When Kaylee learns this, she’s sure Sabine is behind a new string of tragedies at their high school. The truth, however, may be worse still…
My Soul to Steal is literally painful to read at times. If you’ve been following Kaylee, it hurts to see the way she’s treated here, and to see the way this strong character is manipulated into doubting herself. I can’t say I ever really liked Nash, and in My Soul to Keep he messed up severely — and he doesn’t do much to redeem himself here. It’s not so much that he’s attracted to Sabine. I get why he’d have conflicting feelings. It’s the way it takes far too long for him to stick up for Kaylee in any meaningful way against Sabine’s bullying and manipulation. Tod has a huge agenda, but he’s right. Kaylee and Nash don’t belong together. I will retroactively like this book better if it’s the precursor to Nash not turning out to be Kaylee’s eventual love interest — and I will retroactively like it less if it leads to a mushy happy ending between the two. I’m not sure Rachel Vincent could make me “buy” a mushy happy ending for this couple at this point.
But enough about the romance. There’s another plotline here, though the structure of my review reflects the relative prominence of the two plots pretty accurately. If I have a gripe about My Soul to Steal, it’s that the balance is off. The romantic triangle drowns out the “evil forces invading the high school” story a bit too much. As wrenching as the love story is, I can’t help but think that what happens to some of Kaylee’s teachers and classmates is worse, and more irrevocable, and could have used more development. When this plotline does move to the front burner, though, it’s terrifying and well executed. It’s always enjoyable — in a creepy sort of way — to travel to the Netherworld and see what horrors Vincent has cooked up for Kaylee and for us.
While My Soul to Steal isn’t the strongest of the Soul Screamers books — so far I’d have to grant that title to Keep — this is still one of the better young adult paranormal series out there. Vincent gives us intense emotion, plenty of scares, and a wonderful heroine to follow. I can’t wait for book five, which will be titled If I Die.