by Preta
BookVenture Publishing

"Soulmates are born on the same day, at the same time. They're supposed to die at the same time as well, so their souls can be reborn at the same time."

Mercy is the third, youngest sister, and the most daring and rebellious. She is the one who was trained by their father in martial arts and survival skills. Yet she is the only one of the three girls who has not yet encountered her destiny—her soul mate.

In the first installment of Permanence, author Preta has created an eerie, magical world in which some people, like Mercy and her family, are marked by their differentness: They possess the ability to love completely and forever, meeting and mating with one soul again and again. The only thing that can sever this profound bond is the untimely death of one of the mates. Thus the tragic death of her father has left his soul mate, Mercy's mother, bereft of all feeling, a shell of a person who sits and stares, unspeaking. Mercy, perhaps stirred by her mother's misery, decides to take a radical way out of the family's assigned fate by going to a school where she will be subjected to treatment to remove her unique gift of loving. She daringly sets off alone to this institution. Within a short time she is taken to a clinic where she must expose her birthmark—heart and infinity signs on the middle of her chest. Soon it will be removed, and she will be "normal." But only a short time after the procedure, she meets her soul mate, Alec, and learns her true destiny.

The author, who describes herself as a "writer by night and a student by day," has composed this intriguing novel with obvious forethought, carefully constructing a rather bleak, barren world where a young girl and her new found love must continually flee and sometimes fight to save their lives and their special gifts. Her writing style, though at times marred in ways that judicious editing could easily resolve, is energetic and emotive. Many touching images of color and music, even song lyrics, underpin the narrative, adding a layer of passion. The main character, Mercy, is drawn as a sensitive yet bold role model for young women readers. In some of the book's best moments, Preta believably depicts the growing romance between Mercy and Alec, sensuously described with blushes, touches, and kisses leading to deeper fulfillment.

Permanence, with its focus on young people—their parties, crushes, music, and youthful drama—will have a strong appeal to that age group. It displays many elements of a teen dream: misunderstood values, rebellion against the norms of society, and the secret desire to flee and experience adult love without hindrance. But there are darker undercurrents in the book that cannot be ignored. The world Mercy lives in exudes hostility toward those who can love and by loving, make others feel lacking in that quality. With danger and the ever-present fear of the loss of one's true partner, the book may also appeal to enthusiastic older readers of the fantasy genre. Those who read this first installment will be looking for its sequel, as the path has now been skillfully laid by the author for another installment in this engaging saga.

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