Mackie has always been odd. He’s allergic to iron, can’t enter the church’s consecrated ground, and is deathly pale. His family, all too aware that the strange are easily persecuted, has made it their life’s mission to keep Mackie as invisible as possible. Mackie himself is more than happy to blend into the shadows, even as he realizes that he is becoming more and more ill as time goes by. So he is reluctant to talk to Tate, a girl at his school whose sister has just died.
People in the town of Gentry are willing to look the other way when children begin suddenly sickening and dying for no apparent reason. Tate’s insistence that it was not her sister that died, but a replacement is not welcome news to anyone – specifically not to Mackie, who is trying as hard as possible to pass for normal. But slowly Mackie becomes sucked into Tate’s anger and frustration at the town’s denial, forcing him to come to terms with his own past and his complicated family relationships.
This was a very strong fantasy book for teenagers. It will appeal to both male and female readers. There’s just enough tension between Tate and Mackie to keep fans of the paranormal romance happy, but unlike so many of the Twilight-inspired paranormal books on the shelves these days, the focus is far more on plot and character relationships in general than it is on possibilities of romance. Mackie has a lot of hard choices to make, and a lot of realizing that as much as he has always been an outsider, he has also inspired loyalty in his friends. (Though my one major quibble with the book was that Mackie really isn’t a very good friend, particularly to the very loyal Roswell.)