Review of EXTRAORDINARY by Nancy Werlin

ExtraordinaryExtraordinary by Nancy Werlin

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A bargain between the faerie and human worlds has gone wrong, wreaking havoc among the faeries. Mallory and Ryland, a fey brother and sister, are dispatched by the faerie queen to the human world in a last-ditch effort to salvage the situation. Their mission: to masquerade as humans in order to manipulate Phoebe, a descendant of the original human bargain-maker, into fulfilling the the terms of the pact.

There are familiar paranormal elements here (faeries–yeah, OK), and familiar romance elements as well: good girl falls for bad boy who treats her like dirt yet it takes her the whole book to figure out that he’s a jerk and she should kick him to the curb. Werlin does provide an internally consistent framework for this scenario, since the reader knows that Phoebe is under Ryland’s magical influence; every now and then she stumbles to the verge of realizing it, only to have Ryland tighten his grip. Ryland’s cold manipulation is also effectively contrasted with the guilt and conflict felt by Mallory–who, tasked to beguile Phoebe, has herself been beguiled, and has come to feel genuine friendship for her human target.

But what really elevates Extraordinary above the ordinary run of paranormal novels is the detailed, sensitive characterizations. Phoebe’s conflict, her confusion, her search to define herself, are all achingly real, and her inner voice rings absolutely true–even if her ultimate realization seems a little forced, and you occasionally want to yell “Wake up! He’s using you!” Mallory’s conflict is poignantly portrayed. Even nasty Ryland has motivations that we can ultimately understand–as do the faeries, whose callous abuse of Phoebe is an act not just of cruelty but of desperation. And the ending is perfect: gripping, surprising, triumphant, and a little sad.

I really enjoyed this book, and will seek out others by the author.

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