For a book all about death, demons and soul selling, My Soul to Save isn’t that dark of a book. The second book in the Soul Screamers series by Rachel Vincent, it again follows Kaylee, a bean sidhe (banshee) by birth who is quite new to her powers. Still sensitive to her habits of screaming uncontrollably when someone is about to die, and how that leads to time in mental wards despite that it’s completely normal for her, Kaylee is now in bean sidhe lessons with her boyfriend’s mom (an 80 plus year old bean sidhe) Harmony. She’s also finally living with her dad, who has sacrificed a higher paying job in Ireland for an attempt to raise his daughter.
But no one approves when Kaylee discovers and decides to help a pop star (and ex-girlfriend of her boyfriend’s brother) who has sold her soul to hellions and only has four days before she dies (and her soul is sentenced to eternal torture for the hellions’ pleasure). While bean sidhe do have powers, and can walk into the demonic Netherworld, they aren’t exactly big guns there, their powers put them directly in opposition with most of the Netherworld creatures and Kaylee herself is so new at being a bean sidhe she still smells like the packaging.
My Soul to Save is off beat compared to the larger slice of urban fantasy YA books out there. No vampires, no teen family angst, no torn between multiple boys, popularity issues, etc. Kaylee has a pretty good head on her shoulders. She’s clever, sweet and smart. Her biggest failing is not using the knowledge of the adults around her and instead trying to do everything herself. While Vincent does imply that asking for help might not have gotten the plot resolved, one can’t help seeing how Kaylee does put herself in incredible danger, out of not just naivety, but at times a refusal to believe things are as dangerous as they are. To Kaylee this adventure is dangerous, but something she has to do. To the adults, and even the more knowledgeable teens, Kaylee’s actions are DANGEROUS. The difference leads to readers wondering if Kaylee just doesn’t understand, or isn’t listening about the danger she’s putting herself in.
In a way this is the opposite of many UF tales, where the tension and danger are part of the story drama. Kaylee ends up with a very white knight feel, noble, but mere steps away from being high -horsed (if she developed a chip on her shoulder, or had the thought of her actions making her better than the people around her) or naive to the point of stupidity (if she doesn’t learn anything from her very close brushes with death in this book). Overall there’s a feel of idealism to Kaylee and this series that will appeal to readers who might be tired of dark, nihilistic paranormal adventures, but there’s also real danger which will appeal to readers tired of convenient plots or fluffy paranormal worlds.
The Soul Screamers series is different from the popular styles today, so readers really should take advantage of Vincent’s free prequel novella on her website before deciding whether to continue the series or not. The books are good, but are poised to shift the focus of what’s popular in the YA genre rather than following or expanding current trends. As such readers stuck in the popularity mindset might not find the Soul Screamers as appealing at this point, but the writing and story are there and quite enjoyable.