Vanessa Cross, Van for short, lives on Providence Island, a small reservation off the coast of Maine (I believe). For her, life on the island is all she knows and all she wants. When offered a special summer “project” on the reservation, she can’t really turn it down. Her father is missing and rumored a traitor, so turning it down isn’t an option. This is unlike anything she has ever faced. The “project” is in another world that runs parallel to our own. Van takes this in stride. It doesn’t phase her, unlike me. I would have freaked, especially at 15. She just wants to get it over with, find her dad, and return to her beloved island. If only it were that simple…
So I like and dislike Van. She is a force to be reckoned with and will not take no for an answer, and when faced with a no, she finds another way. She will do what she wants, when she wants. You see, Van is rich on the island. She lives in a fancy house and wants for nothing. She’s a pampered princess, as one character points out in the beginning of the story. Being spoiled and acting out as a result of it annoyed me, however it is essential for her character growth to establish her selfish nature so she can be redeemed.
When Van finds out she is going to the Living World (this is what the alternate dimension is called) and can’t take her best friend, she finds a way to sneak her in anyways. Once discovered, there is no time to return Paley so she is along for the adventure. If Van is unlikable, Paley is doubly so. Now I need to preface this before I go on. I’m an adult with a child reading a YA book. Usually I read older characters, so I give Paley and Van a pass for their immaturity and overlook a lot of their bickering while reading.
Back to Paley….she is immature. Raised in the island’s orphanage, she is jealous of what Van has, even though Van has never held her status or riches above her. Instead Van has always shared with Paley and is her fiercest defender. Despite being jealous of Van, Paley does love her. She is her best friend. When push comes to shove, Paley will always have Van’s back and vice versa. I love how the author shows this through their interactions. It’s a rare find in YA books to see a platonic friendship as strong as theirs.
The plot of Shock of Fate takes place in the Living World. Van, along with a Paley and her assigned group of Grigori (demon hunters/warriors) in training, are to find the Coin of Creation. The coin has the power to defeat the darkness. This quest takes Van across the Living World into enemy territory. The world-building here is perfection! The creatures, the landscape, the rain, muck and food, all of it is vividly described. I could feel, taste, smell, see and hear it all.
Overall I enjoyed Shock of Fate. I was hesitant at first because of the immaturity I mentioned earlier, however it gives the characters a chance to grow and change in a natural way. With each obstacle Van faces, I noticed the changes in her, how they affected her, changes for the good. I cannot wait for more of Van’s story. Shock of Fate is the perfect mix of fantasy and adventure as Van discovers who she was destined to be.