by Keary Taylor
This is the story of Jessica, a young woman estranged from her parents, who suffers from excruciating night terrors that have all but taken over her life. Jessica doesn’t sleep. Well, she tries her best not to, but after several days she does succumb to sleep, only to be met with the same nightmares she has had her entire life—nightmares of the trials of souls.
In the nightmares, Jessica waits in a cell for the angel who never speaks. Hooded, she is led to walk the gauntlet, with angels on both sides of the walk, waiting to hear whether the souls for which she stands trial will go up to the heavens or down to the abysmal, dark pit below her feet. Either way, it is a grueling process, and one that takes its toll on Jessica each and every day in the conscious world. She is branded on the back of the neck, and when she awakens the brand is still there, along with other markings and signs that there may be more to these nightmares that just night terrors. Especially now that the patterns are changing, and the fragile veil that has protected her in the past appears to be thinning. Feathers outside her bedroom window, and a stranger with otherworldly good looks lead us to believe that something is amiss.
We meet Cole, tall, dark, and handsome, and instantly obsessed with Jessica. He is trouble from the start, with a suspicious nature and a mysterious history. We also meet Alex, a handsome and attentive young man with no family, as his parents are deceased and he has just lost his grandmother. Cole and Alex compete for Jessica’s attention. But beyond this little bubble surrounding Jessica, few characters pop up, and the only one that has some real depth meets a tragic demise.
I really wanted to like this book! I wanted to know more about why Jessica was going to trial for the souls of others—the true meaning, on a deeper level. So, although this story had potential, it missed the mark. With the underdeveloped characters and the weak arc, I found myself skimming through pages. Three stars is a generous rating for this book that, despite the feathers and wings, never got liftoff.
Reviewed by Stephanie