Savants and an evil serial killer are hardly the stuff of realist fiction, but somehow, with her latest young adult novel, Misty Falls, Joss Stirling has created a book that is realistic while having plenty of elements that make it wildly fictional.
Misty’s savant gift means that she is compelled to tell the truth (a little like Ella Enchanted, but not that bad) and she can also use her powers to make others around her more honest. Unfortunately, that’s not always a good thing, and Misty’s honesty has gotten her into trouble plenty of times. On a trip to South Africa, Misty meets Alex, who is gorgeous and confident, but who seems to dislike Misty on sight. But the pair have bigger problems – a serial killer is killing young savants around the world, and Misty and Alex are prime targets.
The heart of the story is Misty, who is both a Mary Sue – the perfect female character girls often write themselves as in (fan)fiction – and painfully realistic. Unlike a Mary Sue, Misty has many, many faults and insecurities, but that’s exactly what makes her appealing, and what makes readers want to be her. Misty is first the insecure teenager we all were, then a savant, meaning we relate to her in spite of her powers.
In Misty Falls Stirling tells both a love story and a murder mystery, and combines them both seamlessly. Lighter moments, like Misty and her friends attending a summer camp and Alex and his schoolmates competing in a debating competition, sit alongside the darker parts of the storyline. And rather than splitting the book in two, the serial killer storyline is always in the background of the other action.
Misty Falls is the fourth book in Stirling’s savant series, and characters from the previous three pop up, which I love since it offers familiarity, but also moves the story forward because this time round we get to spend more time with members of the Benedict family we haven’t seen before ( and who doesn’t love a Benedict boy?!). Stirling could continue expanding the savant universe (and she can because she’s built up her mythology so well) and I would read every word.
How I got this book: From the publisher, Oxford University Press. This did not affect my review.