Rachel Vincent’s Soul Screamers series started out awesome, and keeps getting better. A recap, for those of you unfamiliar with it, with as few spoilers as possible:
In the first book, My Soul to Take, we meet young Kaylee Cavanaugh. She thinks that she is an ordinary human, but in reality, she’s a bean sidhe, otherwise known as a banshee.
Kaylee lost her mother when she was young, and her father wanted nothing to do with her. So she lived with her Uncle Brenden, Aunt Val, and cousin Sophie. One night, after having illegally sneaked into a club with the help of her friend Emma’s sister, Kaylee has her “first” death premonition — and can barely contain the scream.
She is assisted into the parking lot by Emma and Nash Hudson, the football player every girl in school has a crush on. Kaylee is embarrassed to have had a panic attack in front of Nash, since he appeared to be flirting with her before this happened. However, now she’s convinced that Nash won’t speak to her again.
She’s wrong. In fact, Nash wants everything to do with her. He tells her that she’s a banshee, and so is he.
Then, Kaylee discovers that Uncle Brenden is also one, but Aunt Val and Sophie are human. They apologize for not telling her, but they never thought she’d be this close to death so early in life.
In fact, quite a few of Kaylee’s classmates start dropping dead. And Kaylee and Nash set out to investigate, enlisting the help of a reaper named Tod to find out if these deaths were part of the natural order. Reapers get memos to collect the souls of expected deaths — natural causes, suicides, traffic accidents or other severe traumas, and homicides. But unscripted deaths, which it happens that’s what these are, don’t show up on the radar.
Turns out, someone has made a deal with a powerful Netherworld demon and is harvesting souls through a rogue reaper to pay the debt. And Kaylee is determined to stop whoever it is before they can kill any more of her classmates.
In the second book, My Soul to Save, Kaylee, Nash, and Tod attend a concert. When Tod was alive, he used to date the main attraction, Addison Page. The opening act, Eden, a rising star touring with Addy, drops dead on stage. But Kaylee doesn’t have a premonition, nor does she scream.
Tod knew it was going to happen — he came to the concert not just to see Addy again, but to watch an ancient reaper pull a Demon’s Breath from Eden, which was keeping her alive in lieu of a soul. Collecting Demon’s Breath was something that Tod, a newbie to reaping, was interested in learning how to do and so he wanted to see it done by the only reaper in the region who knew how.
When a person sells their soul to a demon, the demon breathes his foul Breath into their body, which animate a soulless body while the demon “plays with” that person’s soul. Demon’s Breath is also a powerful Netherworld narcotic, and many creatures are hooked on it just like any speed freak in our world.
Soon they discover the terrible truth — Addison Page has sold her soul too, and the reaper is coming to collect that puff of Demon’s Breath shortly.
Now, they have until the end of the week to journey into the Netherworld and make a more intriguing deal with the demon to whom Addy is indebted so that she won’t be tortured by a terrible demon for eternity. The stakes are raised when Addy’s younger sister Regan also sells her soul to the same demon. However, before either sister can be saved, Kaylee must figure out who the sisters sold their souls to!
In My Soul to Keep, Kaylee and Nash are at a party when one of the football players acts strangely. He’s drunk, and crashes into Kaylee’s car. Problem is, he blows a clean Breathalyzer!
But Kaylee knows why. When she confronts him, his breath smells not of alcohol but the unmistakeable odor of Demon’s Breath. Some Netherworld entity is selling Demon’s Breath topside, and Kaylee aims to find out who — before anyone is seriously hurt or killed.
But she has another problem. She starts spontaneously crossing over into the dangerous Netherworld when she least expects it. And, the Demon’s Breath addicts are chasing her, insisting that their shadowy hallucinations want them to bring Kaylee into the Netherworld.
Meanwhile, Nash is trying to brush this away, and begs Kaylee not to tell her dad, uncle, or Nash’s mom. He uses his bean sidhe Influence to insure her compliance.
Why is she crossing over? Why is Nash covering for his classmates? Kaylee covertly enlists Tod’s help to find out the answers to these pressing questions, and discovers an unforgivable and indescribable betrayal by Nash, orchestrated by a demon with a grudge.
I am finishing My Soul to Keep now, and I’m set to begin My Soul to Steal after that. I have not yet laid my hands on the latest, If I Die, or the two prequel novellas My Soul to Lose (detailing Kaylee’s stay in the psych ward after her real first premonition and scream fit) and Reaper (discussing Tod’s backstory).
This series is just done right, from the technical and trainable aspects of writing (like how to open a scene or how to show action and dialog rather than explaining everything in narration) to the untrainable aspects (like constructing a good, taut story that keeps the pages turning).
I’ll give a couple of aspects of how it’s done right soon. Meanwhile, check out Soul Screamers! You won’t be disappointed.