The Empath

The Empath - Jody Klaire Locked in a mental institution for most of her adult life for a crime she didn't commit, Aeron is finally set to be released back to her hometown--a small, out of the way place called Oppidum. But for Aeron, it is no longer a home. Her own parents have practically disowned her. Everyone else either hates her or fears her. And the only person who ever cared, her Nan, is long dead. But Aeron is no ordinary troubled girl. She can feel other people's feelings and then some. For Aeron, it had always been more of a curse rather than a gift. And, as if it can't get any worse, the minute she returns to Oppidum, young women and girls start disappearing. Aeron senses the victims' suffering in real time. But her 'knowledge' of the crimes also means she is, in the eyes of the townsfolk, the prime suspect.

I haven't had such an intense and satisfying read in quite a while. I love the author's use of multiple POVs--first person for Aeron, third person for the others. Aeron is so perfectly drawn--cynical and hardened by loss and rejection, yet there is still a trace of that gentle, innocent and trusting girl hiding underneath all the baggage. The other characters (love interest, antagonists, dead people(!), other folks) are similarly drawn with care and attention. While the book's premise rests on the paranormal abilities of the protagonist and how she deals and comes to terms with it, this is a cut above the rest as it delves deeper to explore the various relationships that Aeron has with other people. In fact her relationship (or non-relationship) with her tough, police-chief father is, surprisingly, one of the most emotional highlights of the book. Alas, I was expecting the author to wring more out of Aeron/Lilia. Chapters and chapters of angst could have been squeezed out of it, and not the measly few sentences we got. :) I mean, I can understand the father's reaction to Aeron--he was heartbroken, Aeron was wild and weird, he was policing an entire town but mother just up and left and when she came back and casually and manipulatively insinuated herself back in their the expense of Aeron, who was like, 'oh okay'. Where were the regrets? the recriminations? Where, oh where is my angst?!? >:( I'd love it if the author would explore this more in a future book--maybe something that requires them to work together? (hint hint,lol) so Lilia can express some proper regret and make amends! (Other ++ points: Nan is a rather neat and unusual plot device. But even better is Renee's imitation of Nan in the river scene--loved that bit of plotting!; Yasmin's shiny shoes; Tiz' love for shiny things, lol. Minus point: Aeron's inheritance?!?--unnecessary & cheesy) ) There is so much drama (yey!) its a wonder the book doesn't forget that it is primarily a thriller. I must admit I didn't see the twist coming. I can normally smell these things a mile a way, but I guess I got distracted by all the drama and that judas hug :)

5 stars