Sunday, September 8, 2013

'Finding Esta,' An Urban Fantasy Mystery by Shah Wharton @shahw1



Finding Esta (Supes, #1)Finding Esta by Shah Wharton



My rating: 5 of 5 stars


Before I read Shah Wharton's debut novel, I'd read a few of her short stories, so I knew she was a talented storyteller. From the beginning of 'Finding Esta,' I sympathized with Luna, the heroine. Luna's a sickly early-20-something with numerous allergies, including allergies to the sun. She can't touch anything without gloves because it's so painful. Her mother and stepfather treat her awfully, not understanding her special gifts.

Luna hears the spirits of the dead in her head, sees ghosts and auras, and knows the history of every object she touches. Nicknamed "Rat," Luna has one bright spot in her life, her job as a journalist in the little village of Snape. Her job causes her to go off in search of a mystery: the disappearance of baby Esta from a burned-out house in Cornwall.

What Esta discovers in that house in Cornwall turns her world upside-down.

One of the possibly covers Shah considered before choosing the final one
Wharton weaves a compelling story that hovers between reality and unreality, repeatedly lulling the reader with a set of assumptions that turn out to be completely false. Parts of Luna's journey reminded me of Dark Lover, the first book in J.R. Ward's shockingly addictive Black Dagger Brotherhood series. Other parts are vaguely reminiscent of other urban fantasy narratives, yet the whole is refreshingly original. It reads like a really good mystery; we find out what becomes of Esta, but only after an extended and fascinating red herring. Luna Dukes isn't like any other paranormal heroine I've ever read, and there are some really fun tweaks to the usual paranormal mythology.

Although two candidates for Luna's love interest appear in this novel, they never compete against one another, and Luna keeps a level head when it comes to her budding passions, even when surrounded by chaos. She's so sensible when it comes to attraction to the opposite sex - it's a refreshing change. Paranormal romance is my favorite genre, but I'll have to wait till at least the second book to see if Luna finds a partner who accepts her on her own terms. If you're not into romances, don't worry - it isn't the main focus of the novel.

Read Shah Wharton's short story "The Journal of Rosa and Bella" here

View all my reviews on Goodreads



I "purchased" this book from Smashwords on a day when the book was offered at no cost. This review was not solicited by the author or her representatives in any way, and I received no compensation for it.

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