January 2015, Chicken House, 384 pages, Paperback, Review copy
Content: lots of suspense, a bit of violence, teen romance
Summary from Chicken House
When five brothers move into the abandoned mansion next door, Sophie Gracewell’s life changes forever. Irresistibly drawn to bad boy Nic, Sophie finds herself falling into an underworld governed by powerful families.
When Sophie’s own family skeletons come to life, she must choose between two warring dynasties – the one she was born into, and the one she is falling in love with. When she does, blood will spill and hearts will break …
The moment I saw that this book was all about the mafia I went into mega squee mode. Obviously the mafia aren't necessarily good people, but I admire their strength of family loyalty which to me seems central to all that they do. To have a story about them, oh boy! Not just any story, but the first in a series - yippee!
Sophie's life may not have got that extra E in my rating, but it is a top notch book that you must add to your bookshelf. I think she takes risks because of her background. After all, she doesn't have much to lose, and by the time she does have second thoughts it's way too late. Now, it has to be said that a lot of readers will be drawn in by the romance side of things. I'm not. I was far more interested in how the brothers acted (sometimes like morons, but often with semi-well conceived plans), how those who protected them took care of them, how secretive they were, and also how human they acted because they didn't always follow orders to the letter.
Sophie's curiosity does get the better of her, and there are several 'she's so dead' moments, but she manages to survive until the end. There are several big revelations which I can say little about without spoiling the book other than the next book can't come soon enough. Vendetta is a book I will be rereading a lot, especially when the next books get published - refreshing my memory before book 2 and 3 is a brilliant reason to dive back in and look for earlier clues and hints about issues I didn't fully understand or even know about until the end of Sophie's exhilerating tale.
You can find out more on Catherine's website.
For more edge of the seat reads involving the criminal underworld be sure to read the duology by Michelle Davidson Argyle of #1 The Breakaway (Young Adult, 10E/10E)
and the sequel read Pieces (not reviewed here on NRC but read several times: Young Adult, 10E/10E)
Question and Answer session with Catherine
Nayu here! Additional squee-ing commenced when the opportunity arose to ask Catherine a few questions about this awesome read. I know you'll find them as fascinating as I did!
Nayu 1) Where did your love of all things mafia begin?
Catherine: I think I first fell in love with mafia movies after I saw Goodfellas at 14 years old. I worked in a movie rental shop throughout my undergrad in college so I really got to discover a great love of films while there, and a big part of that was finding more favourites that involved the criminal underworld, like The Godfather, Donnie Brasco, Casino, The Departed. I'm just fascinated by the idea of a secret culture with its own strict set of rules, commandments, hierarchies and dangers that lives and breathes in the world without anyone really noticing.
Nayu 2) There were several big twists that took me by surprise. Had you planned them or did some of them pop up naturally while you were writing the book?
Catherine: Some of the twists were planned from the outset and these are the ones that are quite easy to spot if you've read the book blurb and are on your guard while reading, but other sneakier ones arose quite naturally as I was writing. Sometimes I even surprised myself!
Nayu 3) Sophie has a fair number of events which tell her to stay away from the Falcones, yet somehow she doesn't. If you were in Sophie's position would you have stayed away from them? Or is Sophie rather close to your own personality?
Catherine: I always say that if I was in Sophie's position, I would have been in witness protection so fast, there would have been a cloud of dust where I was standing. Hell to the no. I'm far too suspicious and conscious of my own mortality at this point in my life! But with Sophie, I wanted to make her a product of her upbringing. Despite her father's history, she has lived a sheltered, comfortable life. She's crying out for something interesting to happen -- she hates the monotony of her summer and the boredom of the diner. She wants that big romance, that big change, so when it comes along, dark or not, she's more receptive to it. She begins her journey in a place of great naiveté because she always wants to see the best in people. But as the trilogy progresses these parts of her will change, as she witnesses the true darkness brewing around her, and how it will swallow her up if she doesn't get her act together. I'm really looking forward to writing this particular part of her journey.
Nayu 4) I have to say when the leader of the Falcone was revealed it was a surprise, but one that made sense. Without giving spoilers away, had you always had that particular character in mind to be the leader? Or in the drafting stage had it been someone else?
Catherine: Initially the leader was someone different but it ended up being this particular person because as I was editing the first draft it all clicked into place, and I knew it would generate a far more interesting plot down the line if the leader was someone much closer to home. The decisions would be deadlier, the stakes would be higher. Plus, it quickly became apparent that this person really just felt like the perfect fit.
Nayu 5) Where's your favourite place to write, and what do you like to drink and eat while writing?
Catherine: I usually write late at night in bed (which is really bad for my back!) or in the kitchen during the afternoon. I curse the mornings so I can never write before noon. I usually just have coffee or flavoured water. Pretty boring, I know.
Vendetta by Catherine Doyle out now in paperback (£7.99, Chicken House). Find out more about the author at http://catherine-doyle.tumblr.com and http://www.catherinedoylebooks.com.