In 1692, when witch trials gripped the community of Salem, Massachusetts, twenty-six children were accused as witches, exiled, and left for dead. Fourteen of them survived.
The Survivors is the first installment of the tantalizing tales of the fourteen ill-fated Survivors and their descendants, who have been content in hiding for over three centuries. Isolated on a Montana mountainside, only Sadie, the rogue daughter, dares to abandon the family's sacred hiding place. But no matter how far Sadie runs, something always pulls her back.
On a muggy summer night in Tennessee, she witnesses a shocking scene that will change her life forever. It is the first in a sequence of events that will drag her from the human world she's sought to belong to for over a century and send her back to her Puritanical family and into an uncertain future filled with cunning witches, mysterious nosferatu shape-shifters, dangerous eretica and vieczy vampires, millennia-old mythology, and the search for her own mortality. After all...
HOW DO YOU KILL A SURVIVOR?
I had great expectations (no pun intended) for The Survivors. I haven't read a lot about the Salem Witch Trials, but I am endlessly fascinated by them. I was eager to read a story wherein we learn the fates of the survivors of the trials. Sadie Matthau, the main character, is a descendant of one of the original survivors. After spending centuries of her life behind the stone walls of her family's secluded city, longing for human experiences, she finally breaks free of the fold and goes out into the real world.
I was not a big fan of Sadie for most of the book. In first half of the story, we follow her around the United States as she attempts to blend in with humans. She has a clear passion for name-brand designer clothes and cars, and we get to hear all about them - in detail. We also have access to her internal dialogue and her ability to hear other people's thoughts around her. Almost every man she encounters is lustful and barbaric in his thoughts towards her (because of how gorgeous she is) and almost all of the women are jealous and petty (again, because of how gorgeous she is). She does, however, meet her first love interest, Cole, who is nothing but gentlemanly and pure in his thoughts towards her. However, he is human and could not possibly understand who or what Sadie is, and so she distances herself for his sake.
Sadie also spends an inordinate amount of time wishing she could die. See, she is an immortal - something. She's not exactly sure what she is, because she's not a witch, vampire, or human. When she's around humans, she is internally critical of everything she does and says, and her greatest embarassment is her immortality. She travels across the globe, researching different mythological creatures and the various ways they can be killed, hoping she will discover how her own kind can be killed.
Okay, so it's apparent I'm a little annoyed by Sadie, but she does get better! Once she is around her own "kind" again (that is, around other immortals), she becomes quite a bit more likeable, though she continues to reference brand names. I personally don't like brand-name references because they don't actually tell me anything. I would rather read a description of the fabric, the colors, the cut. Oh well. To each his/her own!
Sadie eventually encounters the mysterious Winters family, who seem much like her own kind, despite the fact that she had been told her whole life that her family were the only Survivors in the world. This new family consists of two kindly parents, three brothers and two sisters-in-law, one of whom can read minds and the other who is quiet and sulky. Sadie immediately gravitates to Everett, the devastatingly handsome brother with "thin, peony lips" and unnaturally green eyes...
Wait. Why does this sound a bit like Twilight?
Yes, the parallels are obvious, and while I admittedly enjoyed Twilight, the fact that I can draw these parallels caused this book to lose originality points. However, not all is lost, as Amanda Havard introduces us to new mythological creatures, including the Myertovjec, Cordially, and Eretica. I was thoroughly creeped out by the Eretica, who are descrbed as having thin, hollow, needle-like appendages for fingers, which they use to suck blood from their victims. ::shudders::
Amanda has also put a unique spin on how certain breeds of immortals can procreate in such a way that creates a completely new breed. These new breeds of immortals are what Sadie, her family, and newfound friends will eventually have to face and battle, which gives me something to look forward to in Point of Origin, the second book in the series.
I feel like this whole review has been about Sadie. I'm waiting for Jan from The Brady Bunch to pop up and say, "Marsha, Marsha, Marsha!" :-) In retrospect, I suppose most of The Survivors really is about Sadie, and to a lesser extent, the various immortals and myths she encounters throughout her journey. Amanda Harvard did a great job with the setting, expertly capturing Montana, Mississippi, Tennessee, California, and even Romania, during Sadie's travels. There was very little action in The Survivors, but just enough romance to keep those who love a good swoon entertained. (Although I feel like poor Cole became an afterthought by the end of the book, after the appearance of Everett.)
While The Survivors certainly had some flaws, I feel like it was a good set-up for Point of Origin, which promises to be unique and exciting. I have great hopes that we will see much more character growth, intense action during battle scenes and confrontations, and a deeper romance in the next half of the story. I'm also looking forward to reading more about the various mythological creatures we discovered alongside Sadie Matthau.
Overall, The Survivors is an entertaining read, despite the similarities it shares with today's popular vampire series, with the promise of becoming an epic fantasy series all on its own. I can't wait to see what happens next!
BlookGirl Note: Amanda Havard visited AnnaReads.com, where she discussed The 5 Things I Learned By the Time I Completed Book 2 That I WIshed I'd Known When I Started Book 1. I appreciated Amanda's acknowledgement of possible weaknesses, all while embracing her strengths. Kudos!
*A copy of this book was provided by the publisher via InkSlinger PR/Chafie Press in exchange for an honest review.