The first in the young adult crime series, also known under the title of Storm and Stone. Here we see Raven Stone, an American brought into an English Boarding school where things just aren’t right. People disappear, and come back different. More focused, cold, not liking the things they once did. Raven is a scholarship kid, at the school because her grandfather is caretaker. Her parents are both dead, her grandfather is all raven has. She works hard, keeping her grades up wanting to get a scholarship to a great college. To become a talented dancer, a goal she is already working well towards. She certainly has the brains for it, however the students will do whatever it takes to stop her.
They do not like the presence of a nasty scholarship girl. They bully her, fight with her, say that she stole from them. Report her for things she hasn’t done. When her friend Gina comes back from her mysterious absence at the start of term she thinks things will improve. That is until Gina gets her thrown out of their shared dorm, saying she is trouble. Blaming her publicly for stealing everyone’s belongings. Which strangely returned the same day as Gina did to the school, with a note from ‘Raven’ saying how sorry she was for stealing. Yet no one connects Gina and stolen items, they are happy to witch hunt Raven because she is different.
Kieran Storm and his friend Joe come into the school and her life. Under cover trying to discover what is going off behind the disappearances of high level security people’s children. Kieran is a brainy type, hacking, science and so on. Just think Sherlock Holmes as an English modern teenager and you are there, more the new TV show Sherlock than the classic Doyle. Joe for a laugh enrols Kieran in dance, something which doesn’t go down well. He is not the artistic type, and of course he is paired with Raven. Who reads him the riot act when he isn’t pulling his weight in the dancing pairing.
Raven suffers death threats, and a water boarding they rescue her from. The school doesn’t care, just treat it as the students taking care of a thief. There is a second part of the school nearby, somewhere known as a retreat. The last place the kids go before they start acting strangely. Kieran and Joe get themselves taken there, leaving Raven with the details to their boss so she can call if anything happens. Over the months she and Kieran have fallen for each other. Enough so that Kieran has requested permission to tell Raven everything. Now she is their only hope of being rescued.
This is a great start to the book series, exciting, well paced. Leaking out just enough information without it being too much. The Raven/Kieran relationship is the best piece of writing Ms Stirling has done in all her book series. It was a tight choice between this and Shaken which was my favourite of the new series.
Sarah Beth James