After a year of preparation, 18-year-old Raven Smith has researched and planned out every detail of her summer vacation in Europe; those plans DO NOT include boys, romance, or falling in love (definitely not the last one). But, even before the plane touches-down her well-laid plans go dreadfully off-course.
While still airborne, Raven finds a letter in her carry-on suitcase that her senile neighbor broke into her house to stash in her bag; the letter tells Raven to turn back, not to go to Europe, that an “evil agent of Hell” is looking for her and he will find her if she disregards the letter’s message.
But Raven does disregard the letter…
Almost as soon as Raven steps foot onto Rome’s streets, dark, seductive Andras starts showing up at nearly every site Raven visits; Raven finds herself drawn to Andras in a way she’s never been drawn to anyone, while at the same time…he terrifies her.
Then in comes Nicholas, an impossible-not-to-like Swedish guy, who is determined to keep Raven away from Andras...
The two guys share a dark secret. Both are determined that Raven never learns the truth. She doesn’t know who to trust, or if she should trust anyone.
If Raven frees herself from the deception twined around her… the most horrifying secret she could uncover, might be her own… her past… who she really is…and how the forces of Hell plan to use her to destroy the future…
©2012 Rita Stradling (P)2014 Rita Stradling and Gail Shalan
This is a well written, intriguing book. I love the way the story glides slowly towards the para normal and then bursts into it head first. At this turning point, the narrator moves from doing a very good job portraying three young women's contrasting personalities to an outstanding job transforming a complex cast of characters into unforgettable demons, angels, friends and foes. Along with the writers ability to create memorable characters in this action packed story, the narrator succeeds in bringing them to life. Gail Shalan's various foreign accents and her well defined development of each character, as they transform and grow in complexity, enrich this story. The successful narration of this novel creates a vibrancy that allowed me to see this story in my mind's eye as if it were a movie....many of the characters vivid personalities remain in my imagination days later. This audio book is a lot of fun and I highly recommend it, especially for teens.
Probably not Rita Stradling, but I'd be happy to hear Shalan perform again.
For me, the crucial factor of an appealing audiobook is the narration. An excellent book can be unbearable with a grating, inflexible voice. Likewise, a skilled narrator can make a book that I’d otherwise find unappealing compelling. As a 20-something male, I found that later was the case for The Deception Dance. To be clear, I do not think that it is a bad book - it is just sometimes painfully girly. I picked it up because I like fantasy/sci-fi, but I had a hard time getting through the romance parts of it. I also had a little difficulty finding a male character to identify with. Rita Stradling renders female characters very well, very believable - at least as far as I can tell - especially the protagonist, Raven Smith. She is a rich, complex character whom it is difficult not to like even if you don’t identify with her. But the male characters are, in my opinion, flat and two dimensional at most (although, having spent time in Italy, the descriptions of the Italian men were pretty spot on). However, I say this with the understanding that it was probably not Stradling’s intention to cater to male readership.
What did keep me tethered to the book was Gail Shalan’s deft narration. Shalan has a calming voice, which I find soothing on my early morning commutes, although it never detracts from the energy of this fast-paced book. I especially enjoyed her rendition of the protagonist’s sister’s roommate… so hatable (is that a word?) At times I would completely forget it was the same person. Her accents were fun but not distractingly overdone. It is always difficult for narrators to do characters of the opposite gender, but I thought Shalan pulled it off nicely, sometimes amusingly. She kept the protagonist’s voice closest to her general style which, combined with the first-person narration, really helped give the sense that the reader is experiencing this world through Raven’s eyes and ears.
Truth be told, I would not recommend this book to my friends or family, but I think it’d be perfect for a teenage girl, or fans of Twilight (though I have never read it). But it was the clam dexterity of Shalan’s voice that made the book compelling for me.
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