by Joss Stirling (2016)
“‘I’m feeling pretty spectacular right now,’ I admitted.
‘You are pretty spectacular,’ he agreed.” – Joss Stirling, Summer Shadows
I am so sad now that the Benedict series if over.
If you’ve never heard of Joss Stirling or the Benedict series, then all I can say is CHECK IT OUT HERE and you’ll find yourself a brilliant new series to immerse yourself into. I discovered Finding Sky (the first in the series) a year ago when I was getting back into reading fantasy stuff and it sounded really good, so I gave it a go and soon fell in love with the whole savant world and Benedict brothers.
Each book (six in the whole series) focuses on a particular savant and their discovery of their soulfinder – another savant born at around the same time as them and one which is like their ‘soulmate’ for life. The whole idea of soulfinders and people having powers was just right up my street at the time and I’ve enjoyed each book so much. I’d say the book series is for a younger audience, but I loved it all the same because sometimes you just need something cute and heart-warming to read.
Summer Shadows focuses on the girl, Summer, who is a mind-reader and can actually control people and is also a very powerful savant. The only one left out of her friends without a soulfinder, Summer finds herself pulled into helping the last of the Benedict brothers without a soulfinder, Victor, who suddenly disappears and Summer is the only one who can get past his mental defences and reach him through their minds.
But Summer has a complicated home life, her secret mother – a ‘vampire’ savant – is revealed to her friends when they come over to her house unexpectedly, and Summer vows that once Victor has been found, she will turn back on her savant life and never find her soulfinder, for fear it will propagate the ‘vampire’ gene that lies within her blood line.
But of course, things take an unexpected turn when Summer meets Hal, a non-savant soldier with savant brothers and they have to join up together in order to find Victor in time.
I loved Summer’s story: the conflicted feelings for her family and friends, wanting to help the Benedict brothers but knowing she can never find her soulfinder and turning back on her savant self, and then the chaos that ensues when Summer discovers a certain someone she meant to avoid… She’s strong-willed and determined to protect her friends and family no matter what.
The story is predictable, as with all the books in the series, nothing bad happens and the main characters always come out of their predicaments unscathed but this is why I love these books – it’s just something to pick up and enjoy, knowing that it’s all going to be fine in the end and sometimes you just need one of those stories. These books are my go-to for when I need cheering up or just reading something cute (which, let’s face it, we kind of need in this day and age).
Summer was a sort of mysterious character with the reader not being made fully aware of what her savant power was throughout Misty Falls and Angel Dares so it was really good to see her perspective and we learnt of her muddled family and its dark history. Summer is a strong-willed character that can stand her ground and isn’t fazed in the face of danger, and often puts her head before her heart.
Her relationship with Hal was adorable to read about, Hal being cheeky and ruffling Summer’s feathers (and I loved the Disney references, especially when Hal told her to let it go and sang it like in Frozen!) but Summer putting her foot in it and flaunting her sophisticated education with her vocabulary and knowledge, often unbalaned Hal’s cheeky attitude and showed us another side to the seemingly casual Hal.
Another thing I like about these books is that the characters from the previous books in the series often pop back up in the story and we saw a resurfacing of an antagonist in Stealing Phoenix which added to the story arc and allowed the reader to find out what happened in the end to all the criminals that the Benedicts put away.
Here come some spoilers now so don’t read if you haven’t read Summer Shadows or any of the Benedict series!
So, obviously Hal was Summer’s soulfinder and WHAT AN ADORABLE PAIR THEY MAKE! Cue hearts and confetti and wonderfulness.
Okay, so it was pretty obvious from the blurb that he would be, but when I found out that he didn’t have an savant powers I thought that maybe he would be the first non-savant to be someone’s soulfinder? But I like the idea of him actually being a savant and being totally unaware of his powers, despite knowing all about the savant world (thanks to his savant brothers) which is so unlike to some of the previous books where the guy had no idea he was a savant (like in Angel Dares). It meant that we still had the shock coming from Hal at discovering he was a savant, but not all the confusion with what a savant was and so he got over the shock quite quickly. However Hal really didn’t trust Summer at first and it was quite sad to read over his accusation of ‘faking’ the soulfinder bond between them and Summer curled up under the desk in attempt to comfort herself.
Poor Summer. Her dad pushes her to stay home so he doesn’t have to deal with her ‘vampire’ mother alone, her mother regularly enjoys feeding off her emotions so she’s had to build a huge shield around herself to protect herself from her mother, and now she can’t even celebrate finding her soulfinder because he believes it’s all a trick.
But I did like Hal. He was a great character and quite funny at times, but I also liked how at ease he was and confident in himself, despite being surrounded by savants and being the odd one out. All the little moments where he tried to care for Summer were nicely done and further added for my love of the character and the relationship between him and Summer.
I couldn’t believe it when Summer broke down Hal’s shield and managed to get into his head to control him so they could escape, discovering that he was her soulfinder in the process and having to flee from him at that very second. Not going to lie, it was exciting but sad to read, because you wanted it to be a beautiful moment – like a first kiss, it has to be perfect – but it just shows that not everything happens in the perfect fairytale way, making the story a bit more believable and not just having every finding-your-soulfinder moment as smooth and lovely as you’d wish for the characters.
The ending was just what you wanted – Hal using his powers to cure Summer’s mother and brother and Hal and Summer being together ♥
A lovely end to the Benedict series and something to read when all you want is a bit of love – family love, friendship and the love between two soulfinders.
“‘And that’s how I’d like my soulfinder to look at me,’ I murmured.
Angel squeezed my hand in sympathy and dipped into telepathy. He will, she promised.” – Joss Stirling, Summer Shadows