*Note: This is more of a horror story so if you don't like horror you can skip this review
Xander Stryker has been trying nightly to end his life for over five years. He is tormented and bullied at school and even the teachers won't stand up for him. Every night he takes out a case with a pair of custom hand-guns and plays roulette with the one round in the chambers of the gun he calls "Yin". Will tonight be the night his torment ends? Alas, a click is the only sound and he must suffer through yet another day of torment. He is followed to school and picked on for his attire and anything else they can think of. When he gets to class and his monotone teacher starts lecturing his brain takes a timeout. Thus awakening old painful memories of his mother and the torture she suffered under his step-father, Kyle. But there is more awaiting Xander as a strange looking boy starts appearing when he is nearing home after school... the boy is casually dressed and has cold dark eyes, he merely asks Xander to come with him and is spooks Xander. Soon after tragedy hits hard and Xander is left reeling in the aftermath and rage that are fighting inside him.
The Odin clan is patiently waiting for the time when the prodigal Srtyker son can join the clan, but they are bound by an oath they took to Xander's family. It's only after the tragedy strikes that they seek out Xander and offer him a chance to become something great and immortal...a true vampire. Xander has always known about his strange abilities, but never how to control them. He learns he is an Auric - a being who absorbs others psychic energies. And his powers are only goingto grow stronger as he ages in his soon to be immortal body. However he must survive the change and the future that awaits him as others are also wanting him, but for their own purposes. He is happy accept the offer and become immortal and learn about who his father really was.
Awakening as an immortal should have been a happy day, but the second he awakens, smoke and burnt flesh smells assault his nose. He knows something is wrong as his chamber is empty and even his mentor isn't there to greet him in his new life. He soon finds his new home, family and friends are dead and they are all left as a message for him. He finally meets up one one survivor and they flee to safety so Xander can get properly trained to use his new powers. Xander is a natural and he picks up on things rapidly. And on the last day of training he is given a few gifts...rings symbolic to his clan and to his father.
He also finds out a little about his step-father....he too has powers and is preying on another young mother and son. Xander knows he has to end things and kill Kyle before he sucks the joy from another family and rips them apart. But Kyle is old and powerful and he will even put innocent humans in Xander's path to tempt him into killing innocents. Xander knows that Kyle's victims are all going to be shells of their former selves if they get out alive. He tries to spare as many as he can, but in order to end things...some will die and Xander may eventually face the Great Council for doing what he must.
I must admit I felt so badly for Xander and his life. He was kept from knowing exactly who his father was by his only living relative...his Grandmother who raised Xander after his father was killed and his mother died in child birth. He never knew what he was truly meant to be until the offer came. And when he thinks things are going to go in his favor, another shocker hits causing his rage to flare again, and he unknowingly unleashes his powers around him like a hurricane. As he learns to hold in his rqage and focus his Auric powers he learns much about who is he, why "Yin" failed him night after night, and how to face his past to move onto his future.
Nathan did a superb job spinning Xander's story and making us feel what Xander does as he goes through the pain of being bullied, loosing your last loved one to bad blood, and finding the courage to face your past. Xander grows infinitely stronger and finds his way of living life, and fiding what makes it worth continuing to live. There are so many wonderful characters we get a small glimpse of and other who we get to see in many ways. This book was a wonderful and skillfully written story that will have you thinking. A solid 4 of 5 stars to this first story in the series.
I will mention that a portion of the book sales are going to a very appropriate cause "To Write Love On Her Arms" or TWLOHA. This is a antisuicide and self-mutilation cause to help those who are facing the thoughts of suicide and self-mutilation as means to an end.