Vala: Agendas by J.F. Jenkins
By J.F Jenkins
Cheyenne Loveless was just a boring sixteen-year-old girl. Then Denver Collins bit her and everything changed. Her plants start talking to her, she finds out she’s a Nymph, and a witch and the angel of death show up at her doorstep to take her away to the prestigious Vala School and Seminary. Oh, and she has no choice in the matter.
All she wants to do is blend in and return to being invisible, but the more time that passes, the harder that becomes. Plus she’s a daughter of the Divine, an exclusive secret society which rules the world of myth, and discovers she is a key ingredient to an ancient covenant created before she was born. A covenant that will reshape the order of the world.
Adjusting to a new school is difficult enough, but adding on everyone else’s hidden agendas is the icing on the cake. Cheyenne must learn to see through the lies in order to find her place — and possibly even love — in this new world.
“Can I help you?” she asked, shielding herself protectively with her arms.
Sorry, you smell good,” he murmured, practically purring in her ear as he pulled away. He still maintained his close proximity.
“I smell...” She frowned and was about to sniff at her arm, but she stopped herself. “…good?”
“You smell good. Kind of like lilies of the valley, actually. Let me guess—you use that for your scented body wash?”
“I just use Dial.” Her entire body tensed more as he moved in again, his face dangerously close to her neck. “I don’t mean to be rude, and while I’m flattered you’re so fascinated with my body, you’re also making me uncomfortable. If you’re just trying to butter me up so I’ll go home with you, you should stop now, because that’s not going to happen. Back off before I make you.”
He moved away once more with a smug smirk. “I thought I smelled fire, too.” He extended his hand to her for a polite and friendly handshake. “My name is Denver. Yes, like the city in Colorado. Last name is Collins, and I’m sorry if I made you uncomfortable. I don’t usually meet someone with that kind of scent. It’s strong. I knew there was a reason I noticed you.”
Is this guy high or something? “Apology accepted. Iʹm Cheyenne. Iʹve seen you around school these past few weeks, but I donʹt think weʹve ever been formally introduced until now. Youʹre new, right?” Cheyenne shook his hand nervously. He had a strong and confident shake. He seemed to be a genuinely nice person, outside of his odd behaviors. If anything, it made her look good in front of her classmates to be talking to the new cool kid, and a young, attractive male. She felt a little less like a freak.
“I'm temporary. I havenʹt been formally introduced to anyone. Youʹre the first, and itʹs only because you smell so nice I canʹt stay away.”
“Do you use that line on everyone? It’s unique. A little creepy, but unique.”
“No.” He sat back and proceeded to grab a napkin off the bar and fold it in front of him multiple times. He didn't have much of an attention span, apparently. “I actually don’t pick up women often. I just made an exception for the blue--‐ eyed beauty in front of me.”
Cheyenne’s face flushed again. “I wasn’t aware you knew the color of my eyes, seeing as how you’ve been staring at my breasts the entire time.” It came out a lot harsher than she intended. In fact, she wasn’t meaning to say it at all. “Sorry, I—”
“You’re right. I was, but I remember you from earlier. I noticed your eyes when you were looking across the school yard at me.”
“You do remember that.” She shrank in her chair a little, officially wanting to hide under a rock.
“It’s a little hard not to when you’re so cute.” He moved closer to her, not quite as close as before, but enough to cause butterflies in her stomach. “You don’t like it here. I don’t like it here. And since we both don’t like it here, maybe we should head out and find something else to do. Maybe we can go someplace we both like.”
J.F. Jenkins lives in Minneapolis Minnesota with her husband, son, and two cats. She graduated from Bethel University in 2006 with a degree in Media Communication with minors in both writing and film. When she is not busy writing, she spends her free time playing games, reading, and spending time with her family.
We meet Cheyenne Loveless who is your typical high school teenager. She goes out to a party with a friend of hers, where she runs into Denver. He acts nice enough, but when he has her alone he can't help himself...he bites her, vampire style. All of the sudden after she gets home her plants are talking to her and things don't get much better when two Professors from Vala Academy show up. Cheyenne's world is turned upside down as she find out she is NOT human, but a Nymph, her mother is really more of a surrogate, who didn't want to give her back to her parents and she is given no choice in going to Vala and leaving behind the only home she's ever known.
Cheyenne is taken to Vala where she is given a dorm with another girl, whom she takes to right away. She Meet's Zes and Anj, both of whom are satyrs. Anj takes to her, but only to get back at his on-again-off-again girlfriend. Zes is more quiet and subdued then his twin, but once he gets to know Cheyenne they are a cute pair when together. However, Dallas keeps making re-appearances and he constantly gets on Cheyenne's nerves. He won't tell her anything about why she was bitten, why he's at Vala and his strange relationship with her. On top of that she's suddenly popular and has a tight group of friends. However, she gets a bit nervous with all the attention. She makes some frenemies along the way and they are doing their best using their own magic and powers to scare her. We find out that things aren't what they seem and sometimes your friends, really aren't, while others are loyal to the end. She deals a lot with your typical female high school drama throughout and coping with the influx of changes and making the best of things.
I was really intrigued by Zes and Anj and how they were twins, but so different from one another. With Anj being so outspoken and easy going I can see why he's got a group of friends around most of the time. I never did quite understand his power, which seems to relax Cheyenne when she's got cold feet. While I think Zes was a bit jealous that his brother keeps steeling the limelight, he seemed content to be in his shadow. Their powers are both quite vague and I never did understand exactly what they were, even in the end.
The plot was pretty good, I liked the scene of Vala with the buildings surrounded in woods and gates, protected my magical spells and other magical powers. It reminds me so much of many stories along this line, and how they all have old century castle style buildings with being grouped around a commons. I have to be honest the end left me hanging a bit TOO much. I know there is more to come, but this left so many unanswered questions it was overwhelming. It ended at an awkward point where we are left wondering exactly WHAT is truly going on with Cheyenne, who is really helping her, who is out to get her, so many unknown things about her family and past, what she is, etc. As much as it left the sense of mystery and drama, it really was so abruptly cut off I found myself frustrated by how it ended.
Overall: I'd give it a 3 of 5, as I loved the characters, setting, and how they melded together, but the plot was not as smooth as I desire and with so much left to be answered it left me hanging completely. I'd recommend this for high school age as it does cover much of the teenage drama and angst they experience.