Series: The Holders #1
Published by Strange Chemistry on March 5, 2013
Genres: Fantasy, Young Adult
17-year-old Becca spent her whole life protecting her brother from, well, everything. The abandonment of their father, the so called ‘experts’ who insist that voices in his head are unnatural and must be dealt with, and the constant threat of being taken away to some hospital and studied like an animal. When two representatives appear claiming to have the answers to Ryland’s perceived problem, Becca doesn’t buy it for one second. That is until they seem to know things about Ryland and about Becca and Ryland’s family, that forces Becca to concede that there may be more to these people than meets the eye. Though still highly skeptical, Becca agrees to do what’s best for Ryland.
What they find at St. Brigid’s is a world beyond their imagination. Little by little they piece together the information of their family’s heritage, their estranged Father, and the legend of the Holder race that decrees Ryland is the one they’ve been waiting for. However, they are all–especially Becca–in for a surprise that will change what they thought they knew about themselves and their kind.
She meets Alex, a Holder who is fiercely loyal to their race, and for some reason, Becca and Ryland. There’s an attraction between Becca and Alex that can’t be denied, but her true nature seems destined to keep them apart. However, certain destinies may not be as clear cut as everyone has always believed them to be.
Becca is lost, but found at the same time. Can she bring herself to leave Ryland now that he’s settled and can clearly see his future? Will she be able to put the the feelings she has for Alex aside and head back to the US? And can Becca and Ryland ever forgive their father for what he’s done?
THE HOLDERS is a perfect book for an afternoon of light reading. When I started it, I was halfway through before realizing how much I’d read — it’s a very readable book, without a lot of information to keep track of.
Almost all of the book is set in Ireland, at St Brigid’s, a boarding school for Holders. What are Holders? They are people who have magical abilities. But Holders aren’t super powerful. They have weaknesses, usually the opposite of their ability, and these days, many of them aren’t too strong magic-wise.
Becca accompanies her brother, Ryland, to St Brigid’s to make sure he’ll be safe there. She’s protected Ryland all of his life. Ryland hears voices, which makes most people label him as crazy, but Becca’s never believed that. So when Alex and Taron come to recruit Ryland, and explain that he isn’t crazy but has magical powers, Becca is relieved to finally have an explanation.
But Becca isn’t so happy that their father, Jocelyn, wants Ryland at St Brigid’s. Jocelyn walked out on his family right after Ryland was born, leaving Becca with a lot of anger towards him. And with both of them at St Brigid’s, it’s inevitable that a showdown is gonna happen, especially when she hears rumors that Ryland is special, and Jocelyn wants to test him.
I don’t think it’s a spoiler to mention that Becca turns out to be the special one. The summary practically spells it out, as does the predictable progression of the book. It wasn’t very hard to figure out what was going to happen from A to B to C. The story was simple, without a lot of twists, and for me, it was the characters that made the book enjoyable.
Beyond Becca, who I liked as the overprotective sister, there’s also Alex, her love interest. Normally I’m not a fan of romance, especially insta-love or magical bonds, but I thought Alex was a really sweet guy. I’d like to see more of his type in YA fiction. I had a few eye-rolling moments with them, but as a whole, they’re cute together, and I have a feeling Becca is going to need Alex in her life as the series continues.
THE HOLDERS also has a great cast of secondary characters. Mr Anderson, Mr Reid, and Min were my favorites. The bantering between Mr Anderson and Mr Reid added moments of hilarity, and Min was a cool grandmother-type. I can’t wait to read more about them.
I do wish there had been translations for the Gaelic phrases used throughout the book. It irks me when authors put things in another language, but then don’t translate, or at least show through other ways what that phrase meant. I also thought the climax could have used more oomph. It seems like THE HOLDERS is set up for the rest of the series.
One last thing that I liked is that when Ryland settles in so easily at St Brigid’s, it leaves Becca with a difficult question to answer. After a life spent protecting her brother, Becca isn’t sure what she wants to do with her own life. I think it’s a question teens (and adults too) face, even if they may not realize it as such.
Overall, THE HOLDERS is a fun read. Not deep or unforgettable, but I did like it enough to want to continue the series, and find out what else the author has in mind for the story and the characters.
About the author:
Julianna was born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and spent the majority of her educational career convinced she would be a musician. However, after receiving her music degree from Edinboro University of Pennsylvania, she realized that she’d been born in the wrong era for her dreams of singing jazz to adoring fans clad in zoot-suits and flapper dresses to come true, and began to wonder if her true calling might be elsewhere.
While Julianna had always excelled in writing throughout school, she’d never considered it a career possibility until about three years ago, when she’d gotten her first story idea and decided to go for it. She grabbed her laptop, started typing away, and has never looked back.