"Reading Sea Berkley is like watching magic unfold before your eyes. I could not get enough of this delicious tale." — Darynda Jones, author of First Grave on the Right
The Marked Sonby Shea Berkley
Seventeen-year-old Dylan Kennedy always knew something was different about him, but he had no idea what. Unable to shake the unearthly pull to Kera, Dylan takes her hand. Where they're going is full of creatures he's only read about in horror stories. Worse, the human blood in his veins has Dylan marked for death...
"Reading Sea Berkley is like watching magic unfold before your eyes. I could not get enough of this delicious tale." — Darynda Jones, author of First Grave on the Right
Read an Excerpt
The Marked Son
By Shea Berkley, Heather Howland
Entangled Publishing, LLCCopyright © 2011 Shea Berkley
All rights reserved.
I close my eyes, hoping to break free of this nightmare. Yet, when I open them, the hot breath of the southern summer is truly gone, replaced by a weakened sun and the cool breezes of the northwest. The car windows are open, and in the distance, the wooded foothills along the southern portion of the Cascade Mountains rise and fall like ripples in the earth. It's June. It should be sweat-rolling-down-my-spine hot. Instead, there's a damp chill outside. Not totally unpleasant, but not familiar. I slouch deeper into my seat and glare at Mom.
Her mouth pinches, her skin flushes, and she snubs out her cigarette in a tray overflowing with more than three days worth of ash and spent stubs. "Don't, Dylan. Just keep it to yourself."
She says I'm a petulant teenage boy. I am, but who wouldn't be in this situation? I'm disillusioned. Frustrated. Disgusted by life. I'm seventeen, on the brink of my senior year, and once again, I've been forced to leave everything familiar to me in order to appease another of her emotional breakdowns. Mom thrives on drama. She always has, and I've always played along.
Not anymore. I'm sick of playing the good son.
"All I'm saying is, we didn't have to leave."
Same answer. Always the same.
"He left," I remind her for the hundredth time.
She shakes her head, and the few dark curls that have managed to stay bound in her messy ponytail suddenly bounce free to lash wildly in the wind. "His family lives there. You know how people are. Hateful gossips."
Her jaw sets at a rigid angle. "I don't want to talk about it. Not to them, and not to you."
"So my life means nothing to y —"
"Shut it!" She blinks rapidly, still staring at the torn-up road. "I mean it. Not another word."
The tears are back. I look away, disgust searing my insides. The cool wind whips through my hair, pounding at my eardrums, drowning out her staccato gasps for breath. "I get it. Nothing's ever going to change."
She ignores me. I'm fine with that — at least, that's what I always tell myself — and soon she's lighting up again. She bought the ten-pack carton at the first gas station we saw on our way out of town. For eight months she didn't take a single drag. Not one. I'd been begging her to quit for years. Did she listen to me? No. But she listened to Jared, her latest ex-boyfriend. Anything for Jared. It's the one thing the walking dick did right, but now look at her.
Why did I think she would change? We're drifters, stumbling from small town to small town, staying a year or two until the man-pool dwindles, leaving the next. Mom changes men like some girls change their nail color. When she finally settles on one "special" guy, it's only a matter of time before he leaves, by way of the back door, with an armful of our stuff he can hock at the local pawn shop and a pocket full of what little money he finds in Mom's purse.
I've learned to lock my bedroom door.
The small evidence of our existence on this earth is behind us, rattling around in a rented trailer as it bounces in and out of deep ruts, shaking our rusty, old Plymouth Road Runner until I'm sure the rivets have come loose.
Mom curses as the car whines up another hill. She pumps the slab of steel with the ball of her foot like the hick she is, until the engine revs, re-engages, and spits us forward.
"You coulda at least slept your way into a better car," I mutter, pulling up the hood of my gray sweatshirt. Not likely. Mom's always been better at giveaways than bartering.
She doesn't hear, and it's probably for the best. A fresh round of tears would've been her answer. They're the answer for everything these days.
To the east, the hills climb into the mountain range. I stare out over the forested landscape, seeing but not seeing. My mind is on the girl in my dreams. Pale face. Dark hair. White gown. Eerie woods. Chills sweep my arms. It's just an impression, there and gone before I can capture it, but a strange, deep longing rises in my chest. I've dreamed about her every night for two weeks, and each dream is more intense than the last. Lately, I'm feeling desperate in a way I've never felt before, like I've been ripped out of the ground one too many times, and the next time will kill me.
My thoughts return to the present, and I see the road split. To the left, pavement riddled with water-filled potholes. To the right, dirt riddled with muddy potholes. We turn right.
I slap my hand on the outside of the door. "Seriously? A dirt road?" Trees quickly surround the car, and an unfamiliar thickness invades the air. Our soon-to-be-new home is fast losing its appeal.
"It's a sheep ranch, Dylan. Where do you expect it to be? In the middle of downtown Portland?"
"Not in the wilds of Oregon!"
The car shakes and rattles as we slowly make our way down the torn-up strip of dirt. Mom does all she can to avoid trouble spots.
"This is hardly —" She huffs when the car slams into an especially deep hole and mud splatters in a shower of gloppy brown. The undercarriage smacks the road hard, and she growls her frustration. "— out in the wilds," she finishes, but I can see even she's struggling to believe her own propaganda.
"Yeah, right. There's not even a damn Walmart out here, and Walmart is everywhere."
"Don't cuss," she says. "My mother hates cussing."
Good to know. Rattle off the seven unspeakable cuss words the first chance I get, and family or not, if she has any brains, her mom will send us packing.
Trees crowd the road, sucking the air out of the car. I'd forgotten how much I detest the great outdoors. I'd spent my whole life traveling toward the city, longing for a place where I belong, and now Mom slaps me back to square one.
Every so often, another dirt road forks off the main one, but try as I might, I can't see any signs of human life. The road looks like it leads to a campground. What is she thinking? She hates country life even more than I do.
"So, your mom ... What am I supposed to call her?"
Her laugh is a short, bitter sound. "How about Granny? That'll rip her up."
"Using me to dig at your mom isn't very mature."
She pushes the dancing, brown curl out of her eyes. "Oh, shut up. You know I'm kidding. Anyway, what do you care?"
"I don't." I haven't cared about anything in a long time, but still. Someone has to be an adult, and it sure won't be her.
And she isn't kidding, regardless of what she says. It's good to know I'm not the only one who causes that particular look of resentment to flash in her eyes.
As we trundle over the hard-packed mud, a scruffy, tri-colored dog with a bobbed tail and spindle-legs shoots out of the trees and runs alongside the car, all barks and growls like it's never seen a rusted box on wheels before.
"Beat it, Fido." I swat at it, but it nearly bites off my hand. "Hey!"
"The dog almost bit me!"
Mom looks at me like I'm the problem. "What are you, two? Don't touch a strange dog."
Yep. I'm the problem. I slouch back onto my seat. She would side with a mangy animal over her own flesh and blood. I guess that's what happens when you're the unwanted son of a teenage runaway.
The dog breaks away when we round a bend cluttered with trees. Mom mutters a few more cuss words. I close my eyes and sigh. That's Mom. Do as I say, not as I do.
The car veers to the left, and I crack my eyes open. The wall of trees separates to reveal a half-dozen strange, brightly-painted metal sculptures that belong in one of those modern museums only rich people go to. There's something disturbing about the way they rise up, twisting and stretching in a macabre, colorful dance.
Behind them, a huge, red barn overlooks a clapboard-sided house. When we bottom out near the top of the drive, a small woman, pail in hand, turns and watches us from her place on the front porch. I push my hood off to get a better look. "Yee-haw. There's Granny. So where's Uncle Jed, cousin Jethro, and Elly May?"
"Knock it off."
I can feel a headache coming on. "Let me get this straight. You can say whatever you want, but I've gotta behave?"
"Exactly. Nobody likes a smart ass."
"That would explain your lack of popularity."
She blows out the last of the smoke that's rotting her lungs. "For God sakes, would it kill you to be nice?"
The Road Runner rolls to a stop. Mom hops out with a big, yet wary, smile plastered across her face. I'm not at all eager to meet my maternal kin. Honestly, how great can they be? Mom left when she was barely sixteen. My life sucks and I'm still with my parental unit. What does that say about hers?
The woman drops the bucket, and when it lands on the porch's wooden planks, the expected clatter is swallowed by the surrounding forest. Her face pales. I recognize disbelief when I see it. Her hands shake as she rubs them down the sides of her worn-out jeans. Granny isn't exactly old. In fact, she's downright young-looking. A little weather-beaten, but still kind of attractive. An older version of Mom.
Mom hesitates. "Hey, Mama. Bet you didn't expect to see me."
I groan. I shouldn't be surprised that she's dragged us all the way up here without telling anyone, but I am. Mom's never been one to bother with practical matters like informing family we're coming to live with them indefinitely.
"Dylan," Mom yells, and motions me forward. "Get out of the car."
Grandma's attention shifts to where I'm still sitting in the passenger seat. Her eyes are big and pale blue, almost see-through. They're kinda creepy, actually.
"Who's that?" she asks. "Your boyfriend?"
I'm a big guy. Not, oh-my-God-look-at-that-giant-fat-boy big, but tall and muscular. I've been known to walk into a bar or two and not get carded.
"Beautiful," I mutter. Gritting my teeth, I get out of the car, one hand on the roof, the other on the door and glare at Mom. "She doesn't know who I am, does she?"
Mom's eyes widen. She looks like she's going to cry again, and burning anger starts to rise inside of me. I try to tamp it down, but I can't. It bubbles over, leaping into my eyes, my mouth, and my heart.
Without another word, I snatch an old army duffel stuffed with my things from the back seat and slam the door. I don't look back as I retrace my way toward the main road.
I ignore Mom's call.
I do, but it's got nothing to do with her. The crazy dog skids into my path. Its ears are down, and its teeth are showing. Long, mean teeth.
Mom's fingers clamp onto my shoulder, startling me. The dog leaps toward her, and I kick dirt at it and yell for it to go. Amazingly it does. I pull out of Mom's grasp, ignoring the pleading in her eyes. She latches on again. "You can't go. Please, don't do this."
Where does she get off, acting this way? "What do you care whether I'm here or not?"
"You have to stay! If you don't, it's going to get worse."
It sounds like she cares, but I'm not easily fooled. I turn away. "She doesn't know who I am. You never told her about me."
"Of course not. I haven't talked to her since I left."
I snap around and confront her. "Why are we even here?"
"There's no other place to go."
"Don't cuss." She glances back and sees Grandma inching her way toward us. "We have to be smart about this. You promised me you'd behave."
The muscle in my cheek twitches. "People make promises all the time they don't intend to keep." Just like she'd promised to quit smoking and drinking and hooking up with men. Promises run cheap in our dysfunctional family.
I will not be like her. I will make something out of my life, even if it kills me.
Panic flushes her face. "Please, Dylan."
She's desperate. I can taste it in the air. I should relent, but an unquenchable need to hurt her like she constantly hurts me threatens to hijack my control.
The crunch of gravel stops me from saying something that would push her over the edge. Grandma's within hearing range, a look of suspicion on her face. "What's going on, Addison?"
"Addy," Mom says on a sigh as she turns to face Grandma. "My name is Addy. And nothing is going on. This is my son. Dylan."
"Your son?" The news is definitely a shocker for her. "But he's ... How old is he?"
"Seventeen," I say.
Grandma appears dazed and more than confused.
"Yeah," Mom blurts out. "Do the math. Sixteen and pregnant. Daddy would've freaked — I freaked — so I left."
"What? Your father —"
Mom throws her head back and sways side-to-side like a nervous hen that's been pegged for Sunday dinner. "You know I'm right," she hollers at the sky.
Shadows flit into Grandma's eyes. "He would've been angry, yes, but that was no reason to leave like you did."
Mom's chin trembles, but she regains control. She looks toward the house and into the woods beyond, like she's searching for something. "Well, we can't change the past."
"No. We can't." Grandma glances at me. I can tell she wants to move closer for an inspection, but manners — and most likely shock — keep her back. "It's a pleasure to meet you, Dylan," she says.
Her gaze lances through me. I get this feeling like I should apologize, but I can't think what I've done wrong, exactly. I don't especially like the feeling. So instead, I thrust out my hand and throw her a smile laced with sarcasm. "Hey there, Granny."
There's a sudden void of sound, like the whole world stops for a millisecond, shocked by my rudeness. It whispers on the wind, "She's your grandmother. Have a little respect."
She blinks, and then her mouth cracks open into a wide smile, followed by a sharp laugh. She grabs my hand and squeezes. "You're your mother's child, all right."
I stiffen. She has no idea how deeply she's insulted me. Or maybe she does, because the sunlight suddenly splinters in her eyes, and her fingers squeeze mine.
Mom's fixated on the car, and she's as jittery as a crack addict. "Can we unpack, now?" she whines, and lights up a cigarette, sucking so hard the tip burns quickly into squiggly ash.
Grandma lets go of my hand to cup my face. There's an analytical slant to her stare — a "who's your daddy" look. I can see her mentally click through the slim White Pages of her acquaintances, searching for the culprit. A shadow of suspicion flickers before she gives my cheek a gentle pat. "You're a handsome boy, Dylan. I bet your girlfriend is still crying over you leaving."
Girls have been giggling and sighing over me since I hit the sixth grade. I won't lie. I like girls, and I like the attention they pour on me. A lot. But as soon as I get attached to one, we leave. Over the years, I've learned to adapt. To play the field. Life is less complicated that way.
I shrug and look at Mom. "I'm not strictly a one-woman guy, right, Mom?"
She blows out a thick stream of smoke before pitching the spent butt on the ground and grinding it out. "No, you're not."
Grandma's eyes twinkle. "A Romeo, huh?" When I start to pull away, her fingers intertwine with mine, and she leads me back up the dirt road toward the house. "Trust me. A time will come when one special person is all you'll want."
Mom snorts and lights another cigarette.
God, I hope not. The last thing I want is to become like Mom; chasing the one and always slinking away with the taste of burnt ash in my mouth.CHAPTER 2
In Kera's opinion, there was nothing worse than being forced into a corset and yards of expensive fabric. She looked like a fragile china doll. No one understood her desire to be free, to walk where she wished, to dress as she chose, yet, the traditional mindset of her people made change nearly impossible. You risk too much, her father always said, but he didn't stop her from scampering off to Faldon's home, where she learned about the ways of the world outside her staid, dried-up sphere.
Faldon, her tutor, taught her everything from alchemy to self- defense. He talked of places so secret, even her father would gasp at his daring. The old sage treated her as if she had a purpose far greater than being the perfect daughter of a nobleman.
It was because of Faldon that she knew the extent of the violence sweeping her land. Teag was struggling, steeped in a hidden battle for control. And the prize for the victor? A magic so powerful, few had dared to grab it in all the years it had lain in wait for its next host. Now, the warlord Navar, the boldest of those seeking that power, silently crept along the land, spouting the virtues of tradition. Of isolation. Of elitism. Dredging up the Lost King's dreams of a perfect society.
For her people, Navar's offering was as seductive as the most beautiful woman. With each stop on his campaign, the man successfully secured a false sense of well-being. Of being special. And his campaign, his every step, every signed decree, was killing those Kera loved.
Excerpted from The Marked Son by Shea Berkley, Heather Howland. Copyright © 2011 Shea Berkley. Excerpted by permission of Entangled Publishing, LLC.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Meet the Author
Shea Berkley started out writing nonfiction (not so fun) and quickly moved into fiction (totally fun), and knew she?d found her calling. (Her family was thrilled she?d found friends to play with even if they weren?t technically real.).
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The Marked Son is an action-packed story focused around 17 year old Dylan and the "ghost", Kera, who inhabits his dreams. Dylan struggles, coping with a mother who will not stay in the same place long and goes through men like crazy and, eventually, ends up dumped into the lap of relatives he never knew existed. Then things get crazy. What I loved about this book was how much fun it was to finally be seeing things through the eyes of a male - and not just any male, a strong, decisive male who wasn't wanting to shy away from things and was out to figure things out. I enjoyed the humor contained in the brief interactions he had with friends and I loved the passion Dylan exhibited when faced with some insurmountable odds. The Marked Son is fast-paced and filled with all sorts of fights and a nicely-paced story, however there were some things that seemed to be a bit glossed over and made for a bit of clunky going, especially as the end drew near. I had a hard time accepting that Dylan was so capable right off the bad of channeling his powers, that he and Kera developed an "all-or-nothing" relationship that fast, and I was really confused as to what exactly went on in Kera's world. So I guess mostly my issues were on the world and magic building in the book. There didn't seem to be any clear-cut explanation of the powers Dylan (and the others in Kera's world) possessed. Nor was there really an explanation of how the world worked, what people used their powers for, etc. Just that there was a big, bad guy and he was going to take over. I understood that he was bad, but I didn't really understand why. That's what made me struggle with this story. I'm sure I'll check out the next one when it's released, because it was interesting - just had issues with what I've mentioned. I did appreciate that the book was given a solid ending without a major cliffhanger as trilogy books are wont to have these days.
Thanks to Entangled Publishing and NetGalley for the arc of The Marked Son by Shea Berkley, which is about a young man, Dylan, who lives with his single mom. He has never known who his father is or any other family members. His mom breaks up with her latest boyfriend and they move into her parents' home. Dylan finally gets to meet his grandparents! While this is going on, Kera passes through the shimmering wall from her land into the human world and sees Dylan. The two of them have shared dreams and visions for as long as they can both remember. Something is harming the sheep on Dylan's grandparents' sheep ranch and Dylan's family and the ranch workers are trying to solve the mystery, but it just keeps getting more and more strange. The suspense, mystery and the character dynamics make this book hard to put down. The writing flows perfectly and the alternating points of view between Dylan and Kera bring insight into the other realm. At a point in the story, I was wondering how everything could possible work out, but the author's amazing imagination and creativity persevered!
This book kept me engrossed the entire ride; can't wait for book # 2. Thanks so much Shea Berkley for a fun read!!!
I want to thank Entangled Publishing for providing me with a copy of this book to read and give an honest review. I will be participating in the blog tour for the second book and have also read that one, so I needed this one first! Receiving this book for free has in no way influenced my opinion or review. Blurb from Goodreads: Seventeen-year-old Dylan Kennedy always knew something was different about him, but until his mother abandoned him in the middle of Oregon with grandparents he’s never met, he had no idea what. When Dylan sees a girl in white in the woods behind his grandparents’ farm, he knows he’s seen her before... in his dreams. He’s felt her fear. Heard her insistence that only he can save her world from an evil lord who uses magic and fear to feed his greed for power. Unable to shake the unearthly pull to Kera, Dylan takes her hand. Either he’s completely insane or he’s about to have the adventure of his life, because where they’re going is full of creatures he’s only read about in horror stories. Worse, the human blood in his veins has Dylan marked for death... So, when I first read the blurb for this book (many moons ago), I was very intrigued. But I kind of forgot about it. Then the email from Entangled came asking if I wanted to be part of the blog tour for the second book. Well, this one jumped right back out at me, I mean look at that cover, and I wanted it ASAP. And I'm so glad I dove right in, because I could not put this one down! Let's start with Dylan. When the book first started, I was a little skeptical. It didn't really grab my attention right away. But I knew the premise and really wanted to see what it was about. And then I got past the first two chapters and POW I was sucked right in. Dylan is totally awesome. He's snarky and funny. He's good looking and makes me want to just reach through the page and grab him! I loved how Berkley described him throughout the book. He comes off as a bit insecure at first, but then you start to understand that he has spent his life moving around and not being able to really connect with anyone. He's only connected with the girl in his dreams, and she's a dream after all, right? And he completely determined and passionate about everything he does, despite his unusual upbringing. Kera, well, she is just awesome. I loved her and everything about her. She's smart and curious and knows exactly what she wants. And she's not afraid to go after it. I love how she tries her hardest to protect Dylan. Everything she does is to preserve him, even if it means she gets hurt in the process. And Dylan's friends, OMGosh, they are the perfect compliment to Dylan. Considering he has never had any friends, these guys kind of latch on to him and never question who he is or what he needs to do. As a matter of fact, they accept him for what he is, without worrying about all the "strangeness" that goes on while they are with him. There were so many great characters in this book, I can't name them all or tell you about each one of them. You have to pick up this book and get to know them for yourself! The plot line of this book is great. At first, you really don't know that it's going to be a fantasy, and then BOOM, you are sucked into a world you didn't even know existed. And you are sucked into the magic and creatures who are totally beyond anything you would ever know or understand. And it's fast past and has you turning every single page wondering what will happen next. This is the third fae series that I have read and I have to say that it is by far my favorite so far. One of my favorite things about this book is Shea's use of humor. Just when you think it will only be action and drama, the characters get snarky with each other. I just loved it. It broke the seriousness of the book in such a great way. Just when I thought my heart would jump from my chest, I started laughing. I just loved it. Shea's writing flows well and really helps describe the world so well. I love the characters and the different creatures that are introduced and explained. Shea creates a realistic world. Shea pulls you through her book without stopping. I did have two small issues with this book. The first was how readily Dylan's friends and family accept the fae world and it's creatures/inhabitants. They didn't even question it but just said it was cool and moved on. I found this to be a bit unrealistic. I almost felt there needed to be some kind of conflict between Dylan and his new friends to make it seem like they questioned the motives just a bit. My second is that Kera's portions of the book are told in third person. I kind of found this odd since Dylan's was first person. I would have liked to see things from her perspective instead of outside her perspective. All in all this was a really enjoyable book. Actually, I was not expecting to like it quite as much as I did. But I did and I was totally anxious to move on to the second book and see what happens to the characters. One thing I'm glad for, Berkley didn't leave us with a complete cliffhanger at the end!
Dylan has a shaky up bringing. The only thing that's consist is his dreams with a mysterious girl in it. His relationship with his mom is strained. She always had them moving after a break-up. But after one break-up she dumps him at her parents house...they haven't seen her in a while let alone are aware she has a kid. Strange things started happening and he sees his mystery girl. Not only is she real, she has more in common with him than they realize even though they are separated by different realms. They embark on this journey, of course there was obstacles that keep getting in their way. This book has what I look for in a book. It has romance, fighting, death, creepy creatures, and all around awesomeness. And the last few chapters, wow! That was different but amazing. I really enjoyed reading it.
Seventeen year old Dylan Kennedy has always felt like there was something different about him, though he couldn't quite put his finger on it. He's always been kind of a loner and has never had many friends. Dylan's mom has never been there for him, having gotten pregnant at 16 years old, and has moved from man to man and place to place ever since. She has never shown Dylan love or nurtured him at all, and he has grown up coming to expect that, always feeling abandoned, rejected, unloved, and many times having to be the adult instead of his mom. The only thing that has had meaning, is the dreams that he has had forever, dreams about a girl, dreams that have a pull on him and seem more real sometimes that reality itself does. When his mother finally returns home to Oregon and then takes off again, leaving Dylan there with his grandparents, whom he has never met and up until now didn't even know he existed, things become clearer and more confusing all at the same time. Not only does Dylan think he sees the girl he has dreamed about all these years in the woods, really strange things begin to happen to him, and strange things also begin to happen on the farm and surrounding farms. The pull to this girl is so strong he cannot stay away from her. With the help of his two new friends Jason and Leo, Dylan is determined to find this girl and find out the truth about what is going on. What he finds is more than he bargained for, and he finally begins to understand why he has never felt like he belongs.....another whole world is opened up to him, one filled with magic, danger, an evil lord, mystical creatures, and Kera, the girl he loves. The only problem is that in this world, and now in this world, Dylan finds himself marked for death because of who and what he is. Not only has Dylan become a target, but his grandparents and others he has come to care about do to. As the wall between the two realms tears open and the danger becomes more intense, Dylan must decide upon a course of action. Can he defeat the evil that threatens him, the girl he loves, and so many others like him, and if he accepts the challenge, what will be the cost and who will survive the battle? I really enjoyed The Marked Son. I love fantasy, especially when romance is involved. I really loved Dylan. He is super hot, has the bad boy vibe going on, he's quiet, but under the surface lies a whole lot of passion and anger, and when that gets stirred up, especially with the abilities he finds that he has, things get really intense. There is nothing that he won't do for Kera, the girl he loves, and he is pretty badass when he does what he does. I liked Kera also. She is from Teag, the other realm, a realm that kind of steps back in time to another era. Kera is very outspoken and headstrong, something unusual for women in her time. When she sees Dylan, she can't believe she has found the boy from her dreams. She is determined to save him and her persecuted friends, even if it means she has to make a huge personal sacrifice in the process. Then there is Lord Navar, the evil dude you love to hate. Jason and Leo, Dylan's friends, are also fun, as are the characters from Teag. Dylan's grandparents are really great to. The story is fast-paced, filled with fantasy, adventure, and of course, romance. Shea Berkley has done a wonderful job creating a magical fantasy world with mystical beings, danger, and plenty of excitement. If you love fantasy and paranormal romance, with the added plus of the story being told from mainly a male point of view, then you should definitely check out The Marked Son.
When it came to The Marked Son, the first novel in the Keepers of Life series, by author Shea Berkley, I had absolutely no idea what to expect. I went into the novel with my eyes shut, but lately on Goodreads and on the net I have been finding a lot of reviews that have raised hype for the story. I was excited to begin reading and from the quick pace the prologue at the start of the novel I was prepared for about two things: Romance and a mind-blowing fantasy world. The story revolves around both Dylan Kennedy and the mysterious Kera. The two characters’ fates intertwine when it’s revealed that Dylan and Kera have been having dreams about each other since they were children. Dylan has grown up in our world, Kera has grown up in an alternate dimension where things are basically World of Warcraft. But in that alternate world, Kera’s people are ruled by a tyrant lord who uses his strong magic and his wicked ways to cure his lust for power. So when Dylan’s deadbeat mother drops him off in the middle of nowhere with grandparents he didn’t know he had, the last thing he expected was to see Kera in a spectral form in the woods. Quickly, Dylan learns that his mother might have been right when she said that there was something different about Dylan; Something so different that he might not be fully human and something so different that he might belong in Kera’s world after all. Plus he and Kera are falling in love, but hey, who didn’t secretly see that coming? The first thing I think that got to my emotions with the Marked Son is the relationship between Dylan and his mother. Dylan seems to act (and think) like a teenage boy, but his mother seems to regret his existence and blames him for having the same DNA as whoever his father is. With the brief few chapters we get to see her in, she doesn’t seem to care all that much for Dylan and while he constantly states in the novel that she doesn’t matter much to him, I liked to think that secretly he wished she cared for him and that just broke my heart. Relationships aside, I’ve gotta admit that at the start of the novel, I was looking forward to getting to see more of Dylan’s perspective on Kera. Considering how the novel switches between Dylan’s POV and Kera’s POV (point of view), I was excited to see just what Dylan would think of Kera’s world especially since Kera’s world is (like I said before) World of Warcraft. That’s just freaking awesome. When Dylan does finally encounter Kera’s world and comes to terms with the fact that he is only half human, the story is nothing but fast paced with killer action scenes straight out of Underworld. I’ve gotta admit though that my favorite character within the whole novel was Kera, she held a total aura of badassery. In her world, women aren’t supposed to be soldiers, but Kera still fights like one even when she’s supposed to marry the tyrant Lord and still holds feelings for Dylan. The romance between Dylan and Kera was pretty cute, I think, because Dylan constantly comes off as this total love ‘em and leave ‘em type character, but becomes instantly hung up on Kera. Which, you know, makes him go a bit insane whenever she’s in danger, I found that awesome. All in all, a pretty fun read. I’d recommend The Marked Son to fans of fantasy, readers who want a supernatural story with action, and those of us who just want some good old exciting romance.
Review originally posted in Librarian Mouse Dylan doesn't have an easy life... In fact, his life could be categorized as a roller-coaster of emotions, disappointments and distrust. The main reason for this is because his mom is the kind of woman that falls very easily and quickly in love only to pack their things up and leave town when she breaks up with the guy of the town. She doesn't think about Dylan at all and it has been this way for the last 17 years. That's why when she leaves him in the middle of nowhere with grandparents that didn't know he even existed he is not that surprised. Hurt yes, but not surprised. The only good thing in his life? Since Dylan was a kid he always dreamt with the same girl. In fact they had seen each other grow up and had developed a friendship, and even if he knew deep inside that those dreams were not real they were also one of the things he treasured the most. But everything changes when, behind his grandparent's house, he sees her. There, standing and practically inviting him into the woods. And after thinking about it he decides to go and help her, because he knows she is in trouble. And thanks to that decision he finally understands why he always felt like he never belonged: he is only half human and his other half comes from a different dimension. And this land, Teag, lacks a king and a ruthless man named Navar won't stop until he controls everyone and everything. That's why Kera has called fon Dylan, because he has a destiny to fulfill and a new life to discover with her. Personal opinion: From the very beginning I didn't know what to expect with this book. To be honest I'm not very fond of situations where a mom is not very "mother material". But to give him credit, neither is Dylan, so we are in the same page here. And after reading a little bit we get to understand why Dylan's mom leaves him there. Gladly for me things developed in a very cool, interesting and intriguing way. First we have Dylan who, thanks to the way he was raised, doesn't usually trust in other people and doesn't want to open up his heart to anybody. And to see this guy development throughout the book was amazing. It was like seeing a normal day reaching a glorious sunset, if you know what I mean. Dylan soon discovers powers hidden within him and creatures and people that, alongside Kera, become not only friends but also family to him. And then we have Kera, the girl of his dreams with whom he falls in love. And the feeling is mutual because they are meant to be together. Their love felt always natural, like the way the water follows the riverbed. Besides, want to know something else? This girl is protective and she may not have Dylan's abilities but she does know how to take care of someone else. As for the plot all I can say is that Shea Berkley has a natural style of writing and I like it. From the way she captures Dylan's thoughts to the great world building she does... everything was great. Even Navar had a deepness that was enjoyable and was the perfect enemy for Dylan. And the ending? It doesn't have a cliffhanger for which I'm grateful. The book finished in a nice way letting the right amount of questions with no answer to keep me waiting for the second installment. Trust me here, I'm already waiting!
This book was just okay for me. I did love the concept of the book in that is was so different than anything I've read before. I just never felt completely pulled in and it was never difficult for me to put it down. But kudos to the author for a refreshing alternate fantasy world.
Kept me tuning the pages dying to know what happened next, and now I can't wait for the next book in the series. Well written. I highly recommend this book...and I don't usually give such glowing reviews.
I love this book! The story line is great!! I can't wait to read the next book!!!
Our Review [by a LITERAL ADDICTION Associate Guest Reviewer]: I wasn't sure what to expect from this book since I didn't read the blurb, but I absolutely loved it! It had pretty much everything including action, romance, drama and friendship. Dylan is 17 and hasn't had the easiest life so far his mother moves him around the country constantly after falling in and out of love with less than savory men and shows no love to her son and he can't make friends since he is moving about so much. Dylan has been having dreams about a girl since he was a young boy and never seems to fit in anywhere. When his mother abandons him with grandparents who he has just met you feel really sorry for him and you really begin to hate his mother. He sees the girl from his dreams in the woods outside his grandparent's home and then everything starts to go wrong. This is not your typical young adult book in the way that it can get really quite dark sometimes and even I was quite shocked at some parts and had to read parts again to see if that had really happened! I loved watching Dylan form relationships with other people as it was a very new experience for him and it was great to see people accept him for who he was and letting his bitterness go. Kera has grown up in a different world altogether and it is a harsh and cruel one and she has her own secrets to hide. The other characters in this story were great and I can't wait to read more from this wonderful author and hear more from Dylan and Kera!
The Marked Son is a story that instantly takes ahold of the reader because the main character, Dylan, is just so enigmatic and alluring. His 17 years have been rough – with a mom that’s constantly chasing the next fling – and he’s as jaded as they come, but there’s just something about him that will pull readers in. Maybe it’s his unconcealed anger towards his mom or his ease in giving up, but I wanted things to work out for him from the beginning. Shea Berkley captures teen angst perfectly, then flips it upside down, throws in some serious abandonment issues, and adds a healthy dose of fantasy to the mix. The tidbits about Dylan’s past and minute details hint at what’s really happening, as do the chapters from an alternate, female POV, but the big reveal is something else. The mix of contemporary with fantasy is done flawlessly and seemingly effortlessly. The story progresses from a simple, angsty teen story, to so much more. Dylan’s dreams and the foreshadowing escalate the tension and suspense, until the readers get that BANG moment along with Dylan. And once it happens, things go from uncomplicated to insane. And I loved it. The Marked Son is a captivating contemporary that turns into a surprising and unique fantasy. Dylan will find his way into the hearts of readers, as will his grandparents, the mysterious girl Kera, and the new friends Dylan makes along the way. If you’re a fan of contemporary and fantasy, and love a mix of the two, The Marked Son is the perfect book for you.
I wasn't sure what to expect from this book since I didn't read the blurb, but I absolutely loved it! It had pretty much everything including action, romance, drama and friendship. Dylan is 17 and hasn't had the easiest life so far his mother moves him around the country constantly after falling in and out of love with less than savory men and shows no love to her son and he can't make friends since he is moving about so much. Dylan has been having dreams about a girl since he was a young boy and never seems to fit in anywhere. When his mother abandons him with grandparents who he has just met you feel really sorry for him and you really begin to hate his mother. He sees the girl from his dreams in the woods outside his grandparent's home and then everything starts to go wrong. This is not your typical young adult book in the way that it can get really quite dark sometimes and even I was quite shocked at some parts and had to read parts again to see if that had really happened! I loved watching Dylan form relationships with other people as it was a very new experience for him and it was great to see people accept him for who he was and letting his bitterness go. Kera has grown up in a different world altogether and it is a harsh and cruel one and she has her own secrets to hide. The other characters in this story were great and I can't wait to read more from this wonderful author and hear more from Dylan and Kera! I would recommend it to anyone who loves YA, magic, action and one hell of a ride! 5 out of 5 stars
Originally reviewed at The Book Faery Reviews The Marked Son is the story of Dylan and Kera. Both from two different worlds but magnetized to each other by unseen forces and destiny. Dylan is your average recluse teenager, coping with a life that is less than stable. His mother constantly moves them around the country, running from ex lovers without any real direction or reason. Dylan has been adjusting as best he can to his neglectful mother and the constant moving when his mother unexpectedly dumps him into the laps off his grandparents, whom he has never met before, and abandons him there. Here in a farmhouse near the woods, he discovers that the woods are full of magic, a girl in white whom he has dreamt about since he was really young is actually very real. Kera, a girl from another dimension is seeking help for her home of Teag, a land across a barrier wall that separates the two worlds. When he follows her into this world, he discovers bloodthirsty creatures and a cold ruthless ruler named Navar who is bent on wiping out any half-blood beings, like Dylan. Only him and Kera can save this world which nothing is what it seems and the would-be ruler Navar has set his sights on killing them both. I enjoyed reading this story, the point of view starts by bouncing back and forth between the main characters Dylan and Kera. It was a bit confusing at first, things took a while to be explained in the first half of the book, leaving me feeling a bit clueless and lost with all the world building on each side of the wall and vague backgrounds. The second half of the book more than made up for it. The point of view was laced together tight at this point and the story smoothed out to give you answers to the many questions that have built up to this point. The town of Teag seems stuck in a sort of medieval time where men have more power and woman are betrothed to men. They also have to wear big beautiful dresses and behave a certain way. It seemed to clash with the modern world that Dylan lived in. I do love his Grandparents, probably two of the most colorful characters in the story. His grandmother especially seems to know a lot more of what is going on than she lets on. His human friends Jason and Leo are great additions to the story but I would have liked to get into their heads a little more. Overall the ending was amazing and kept me on the edge of my seat. It left me wanting more and I definitely want to see where these characters will be going, see what kind of trouble they can get into in the future. I highly recommend it and will be reading more by this author.
I was drawn into this book from the very first chapter. It was a different type of book than any that I have read recently. Magic, romance, action. I loved it. The Marked Son has a way of holding your attention very well. There's so much that happens in this book both in a real world setting as well as in a magical parallel world. The author did an amazing job at weaving these two worlds and the stories of both of the main characters together. The characters themselves are amazing and relateable and very easy to like (and some to dislike). We're introduced to Dylan, the main male character, right off the bat, as it's mainly his story to tell. You can't help feeling an emotional attachment to him and he tells a tale that, sadly, is a real life predicament that a lot of teens today have to go through. Among all of the magic and the mystery, there's a real depth to him in his emotional realness. I fell in love with Dylan and his attitude immediately. Overall, I enjoyed this book very much. There was a great story to tell and I cannot wait until the next installment in the Keepers of Life series comes out.
great story,loved the characters. Can't wait for the next books .
I love when dreams come true. A character riddled by images, dreams, a girl who he can't get out of his head. And then, she's real. Alive. This plot line grabbed me from the beginning cause of the great dreams and life he lead. The main character Dylan, did not grow up easy. He has been lied to, move a lot, and his mom is not a good mother. It is sort of disturbing but also good, that Dylan can handle himself at such a young age with great maturity. He is not like the other teens his age and knows that. He struggles with who he is. The author Ms. Berkley did a wonderful job of giving a good description of Dylan's back round. I like how an author can provide as vivid back round with out losing touch with the main story line. She didn't give too much away or too little. The back round info was just enough to know and feel the character. The story line of the book is good. Ms. Berkley presented to reader with mysterious dreams leading on into a world of fantasy. The point of view switches with smooth and transitional. If you know me, you know how picky I am with pov switches. Ms. Berkley writing is very good when it comes to describing the world of Fey in her head. The reader gets a good picture of the different world as well as the characters feelings. I pretty much liked everything about this book. Questions that popped up in my head about "The First" were answered as well as more about the new world I step into. The creatures, rules, and prejudices made for a great story. If you like fantasy, different worlds, half-breeds, read this book. I know that you will enjoy this book as much as I have!
What I loved about this story was being inside Dylan's head. It's different and unique to live a story from the guy's point of view, and Dylan Kennedy is an amazing character. What he grew up dealing with, a mother that cared little for him, made him into a tough guy, but vulnerable, too. He truly didn't see how anyone could care or love him. His only outlet, his fantasy world he lived through his dreams . . . His dream girl. We get to see Teag from the dream girl's-Kera's-point of view. It's done in third person, so it's still really Dylan's story, but in this way, we aren't left guessing the first half of the story about her or the realm. I loved this detail. We get to see how Dylan pieces his discovery together, all the while trying to figure out his part, but still knowing the truth about her world for ourselves. Once they find each other, they are more than drawn together-they are destined for each other. Their passion and need for one another is overwhelming. Though at times it felt a little fast, knowing they cared for each other long before, while sharing dreams, helps their quick relationship feel more realistic. I was taken with Dylan's devotion to Kera. He was more than her protector-he guarded her with his life. That gets all my swoon-worthy praise right there. Teag was an interesting world. Full of magic, strange creatures, and evil. The twists this realm had for Dylan, and who he truly is and to become, builds up the next book and I can't wait. Though I was sad about a couple of characters, it made the story feel real, and the stakes ratcheted up for Dylan. The end was action-packed and full to twists, which I love. The story built into a crescendo and I was left wanting more. More! Definitely a must read for romance and paranormal lovers.
Dylan's mom dumps him at his grandparents farm in the mountains of Oregon. It guts him. Sure she was an irresponsible pain with a string of boyfriends too long to name, but she was all he had. After claiming he was allergic to nature all his life, she abandons him on the farm she ran away from seventeen years ago. It's enough to make any guy want to pretend it's not really happening. Dylan thinks he must be really losing it when he starts seeing a familiar girl in white dress running in the woods. His old nightmares come back. Secrets have been kept from both Kera and Dylan that soon make them targets in two realms. I've already read this brand spanking new release twice. The first time I devoured the plot and the second time I enjoyed the complex world building. This author pulls you in with emotions and magical prose. Big recommendation here for the first in the Keepers of Life series. Bring on book two.
It isn't often that you get to read a book and be taken on a journey that is so fantastic and unique. I didn't know what to expect with this book because the synopsis didn't really give me a feel for the the category this book would fit in: vampires, fey, etc. I know understand that this book doesn't fit in any category and sort of in all of them. The story is fresh and unique and I didn't want to put it down. Although this isn't really a fey book, I enjoyed this book like the Iron Fey series by Julie Kagawa. Both books are full of wonderful rich descriptions of a world and has a story line that is unpredictable and a joy to read. This book starts with alternating points of view from Dylan in the Northwest and Kera in the mysterious land of Teag. Dylan and Kera have visited each others dreams for years. It isn't until Dylan is left at his Grandparents house by his deadbeat mother that he sees Kera. Then strange things begin to happen to his grandfather's sheep and farm. Dylan discovers the wall that seperates this world from Teag. Kera and Dylan meet when Kera is drawn the surge of power that surrounds Dylan. Dylan discovers powers that have always been apart of him because his tie to Teag. Kera is sure that Dylan is the one who can not only save Teag from the evil greedy Navar but also her soul mate. The chemistry between Kera and Dylan is powerful and makes your heart swell with the love between them. The world of Teag is a wonderful fantasy that is full of magical creatures and rich characters. Navar is a greedy evil man that is power hungry and will go to any length to seize power over the realm of Teag. Teag is also having a genocide under the strong fist of Navar who has declared that halfbreeds are an abomination and will be killed on sight. Firsts are the pure bloods of Teag who have fey like characteristics and cannot lie. Half bloods can lie and therefore, fear of being decieved by them is what insights the mistrust and fear. There are so many layers to this story that it takes many unpredicatable twists and turns. I found the story about the Firsts not being able to lie really interesting as that I could understand how much better the world would be. But doesn't it show more character to choose not to lie and be able to than to not lie because you are unable. Dylan's heart is good and loyal and not full of deceit. Navar is a far more evil alternative yet he is a First and therefore Teag citizens are much more loyal just because of his blood. It is an interesting commentary on prejudice. I would recommend this to readers who love fantasy, fey novels and YA romance. It truly is a cross catergory book and hard to pinpoint. Also, recommended to those who enjoy the Iron Fey series as this is a wonderful world and unpredicable story.
Dylan hasn't had an easy life. His mother falls in love too easily. Whenever she is finished with the guy of the day, she picks up and moves the two of them to a new town to start over. Because of this, he's bitter and not very trusting of her. The last straw comes when she takes him to Oregon and leaves him with her parents - grandparents he has never met. Not long after his mother leaves, Dylan sees a girl in white standing in the woods. A girl that looks vaguely familiar. Is he seeing ghosts, or is he completely losing it? When Dylan follows the girl deep into the forest one night, he soon finds himself in another dimension. Kera, the girl, is the same girl Dylan has seen in his dreams since he was a boy. Something has brought him to her. They are obviously meant to be together. The world Kera lives in is not a happy place. Kera is set to be married off to an evil man, and it is up to Dylan to save her. The problem is, Dylan is human and doesn't belong in her world. He could lose Kera, or even worse, his life. Shea Berkley is a wonderful writer. For her first novel she delivers an engaging story that balances the action and the romance very well. I wasn't sure what to expect when I picked up this book, but I quickly fell into this novel and enjoyed the time spent reading it. The characters are all well-rounded and I felt the narrative was pretty well-balanced despite the fact that it shifts between points of view. There is plenty of action for the male readers, enough romance for the girls and lots of magic and mystery to keep the pages turning. This is the first in a series and I am looking forward to the next entry. (Review based on an Advanced Readers Copy courtesy of the publisher via NetGalley)
WOW! I finished The Marked Son thirty minutes ago and my heart is still racing. This book is amazing. It's like I took off on the most fantastic paranormal fantasy adventure ride, and still haven't touched ground. The storyline and plot just don't quit. It keeps taking you higher and higher, and just when you think you've reached the top, Shea Berkley gives you another awesome shot of adrenaline. Shea Berkley has definitely got an imagination overload going in this story. The Marked Son had me laughing, crying, angry, heartbroken, and my favorite, swooning :) Dylan is one hundred percent blow-your-mind awesome guy material. Dylan had my heart breaking for him when his mom abandoned him, and his mess-up life. But now that he founded Kera, the girl of his dreams, who's shown Dylan who and what he really is, there is no sacrifice Dylan won't make to love and protect her in order to be with her. Kera is from Teag-another dimension-and she's a head-strong, self-assured girl. And when she sees Dylan, she knows he's her forever love and white knight. Dylan's two best buds, Leo and Jason, are right by Dylan's side on this wild, magical adventure. Jason is a wild card, he had me in hysterics with his witting mouth and take on the world. Leo is laid back, easy going kind of guy, but he's smarter than he seems, and when he meets Lucinda, I laughed so hard I cried. Shea Berkley did a jam-up job describing a guy like Leo in this kind of predicament. I could just see poor Leo wanting to find a rock to crawl under. I love both these guys. They're funny, terrific , beautiful, and this thing Leo has going on with scary, sensual, sadistic Lucinda, I can't wait to see more of them! I wish I was as brilliant and talented a writer like Shea Berkley in order to write this review. I'm just not putting into words how amazingly beautiful this book is. I highly recommend you read The Marked Son. And I'd like to thank Shea Berkley so much for writing Dylan and Kera's story and Entangled for Publishing this Awesome book!!!