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Alyson Noël, perhaps best known for her popular Immortal series about Ever Bloom, has introduced a companion series focusing on Ever’s little sister, Riley, and her adventures in the afterlife.

Riley Bloom lost her life at just 12 years old, the victim of a tragic car accident that involved her entire family. When her parents crossed the bridge into the afterlife and Ever returned to her body on earth, Riley hovered in the middle, confused and a bit lost. She spent time watching Ever live her life, and even entertained herself by peeking in on some favorite celebrities. But eventually, she made the decision to cross the bridge into the afterlife and the next phase of her existence.

The afterlife isn’t as different as some may think. Riley and her parents, along with her dog Buttercup, live in what appears to be the same house in the same neighborhood, because that is what they chose; everyone is able to manifest anything she or he wants. However, people have the time and resources to pursue their dreams, like art, and some even go to school to learn. Riley loves the manifesting part and walking through walls, but overall she is having trouble adjusting; she longs to return to earth and be a part of her sister’s life. So she finds herself in the uncomfortable position of being reviewed by the council. But their recommendations for an assignment actually give Riley some hope. She is to return to earth as a Soul Catcher.

A Soul Catcher is one who attempts to help those spirits who are lingering on the earth plane, refusing to or unable to cross the bridge. Her first assignment is the Radiant Boy, a mischievous spirit who has been haunting a castle in England for centuries. Riley is appointed a guide, 14-year-old Bodhi, to help her out. At first, she has trouble getting along with him, and his nerdy appearance bugs her to no end. But they better learn to get along together, because they have a lot of lost souls needing their help to cross over the bridge into the afterlife.

RADIANCE has a fast-moving storyline with lots going on, urged on by a natural curiosity and fascination for the afterlife. Riley is a wonderful companion for the story, full of energy and curiosity, with a streak of arrogance battling with a bit of insecurity. Noël has an amazing talent for words, creating a rollercoaster of emotions with tickling curiosity, delicious spookiness, overwhelming sorrow and sparkling hope. This new series has an awesome beginning, and there’s plenty of potential for more riveting storylines. Fans will be looking forward to the second installment, which is due out in the spring of 2011. 

Reviewed by Chris Shanley-Dillman on August 31, 2010

by Alyson Noël

  • Publication Date: August 31, 2010
  • Paperback: 192 pages
  • Publisher: Square Fish
  • ISBN-10: 0312629176
  • ISBN-13: 9780312629175