Title: My Soul to Keep
Author: Rachel Vincent
Harlequin | June 1, 2010 | Trade Paperback
Kaylee has one addiction: her very hot, very popular boyfriend, Nash. A banshee like Kaylee, Nash understands her like no one else. Nothing can come between them.
Until something does.
Demon breath. No, not the toothpaste-challenged kind. The Netherworld kind. The kind that really can kill you. Somehow the super-addictive substance has made its way to the human world. But how?
Kaylee and Nash have to cut off the source and protect their friends—one of whom is already hooked.
And so is someone else…
Review (Spoiler Alert):
My Soul to Keep is the third book in the Soul Screamers series and is no doubt my favourite thus far. While the earlier books maintained a clear line between the Netherworld and the human world, this next chapter in Kaylee's story brings both together. Instead of singing for souls and saving them, Kaylee and Nash must solve the mystery surrounding Demon Breath trafficking.
As a young adult book, My Soul to Keep tackles teenage drug use in a unique way. Because this is an urban fantasy novel, the drug of choice in Kaylee's high school is none other than Demon Breath. This drug may be new to the human world but the same cannot be said for the Netherworld. There are creatures that hide behind the veil of this other world who are also addicted to the powerful substance. The effect is still the same though for anyone who is inhaling Demon Breath; the slow deterioration of one's soul until they eventually die. You think that's bad? The withdrawal effects are just as deadly.
Demon Breath is not only affecting Kaylee's classmates it is also destroying the life of one of her loved ones - Nash. After accidentally inhaling Demon Breath on their last trip to the Netherworld, Nash is struggling to keep his addiction under control. For the majority of the book Kaylee is oblivious to the drug's impact on Nash. He relies on Demon Breath just as he does air and when Kaylee realizes this it shatters her world. Because readers are kept in the dark about Nash's struggle with Demon Breath, they will experience his betrayal in the same way as Kaylee. The way that Rachel Vincent approaches Nash's addiction truly reveals the kind of loss associated with substance abuse. Every lie he tells Kaylee builds on another until their relationship is suffocating with deceit. The strong sense of trust that was built in the previous books is no longer.
While some authors shield their hero from any imperfection Vincent is not one of them. She gives Nash the room to make mistakes, and she also gives Kaylee the strength to recognize them. Any pedestal that Nash has been placed on has crumbled. He is fallible, yes, but he is real. This book allows readers to see another side of Nash, but also another side of Tod. For those of you who are smitten with the infamous reaper, My Soul to Keep reveals more of his sensitive side.
As you well know, Addison, the love of Tod's life, made a deal with the hellion Avari and in turn is damned to suffer in the Netherworld forever. As soon as her future was fated though, Tod made his own bargain with Avari that would allow him to see Addison for one hour each day. It is in the short time that Tod helps ease Addison's mind by letting her forget where she is and what is happening. Tod's adoration for Addison is so genuine and so precious. Even with half of her body charred from Avari's torture, Tod continues to look at Addison like the sun shines only on her. Tod's sensitive side also extends to Kaylee who he soon becomes protective of. Tod is infuriated with his brother after seeing how much pain he has caused Kaylee and in turn takes it upon himself to look out for her.
Overall, Vincent took on the subject of teenage substance abuse but did it in a way that works with the book's genre. She sends a great message through this book about the impact that addiction can have on the victim and their loved ones. Additionally, My Soul to Keep is a chance for readers to find out even more about the characters they have grown to love. The character depth that she is is known for is maintained throughout the book. Vincent highlights that even our heroes make mistakes, but it is how they emerge from them that counts. The next book, My Soul to Steal, will hopefully give Nash the time he needs to make things right.