Reviewed by Jennifer J.

Alyson Noel first introduced us to Ever Bloom’s “pain in the bum” little sister Riley in Evermore, and now Riley is the star in her own spin-off series starting out with the book Radiance. This short, new novel from Noel explains what happened to Riley after Ever stopped being able to see and communicate with her in the Immortals series. Through Riley’s first person narration, readers are treated with a glimpse of an afterlife that is not so very different from the lives we lead on Earth, down to the exact house and street on which we lived.

Riley is having a difficult time adjusting to the fact that she is now dead and all of her friends are still living. She also misses her big sister, Ever, though she at least has the comfort of her faithful dog, Buttercup. Although she’s dead, Riley still has a purpose. She soon learns that she will be required to train as a “Soul Catcher”, someone who must help the souls of those who have remained earthbound cross over. With the guidance of cute but geeky Bodhi, Riley must prepare for her first assignment: to convince a famous ghost known as Radiant Boy to leave the castle he has been haunting for centuries and journey over the bridge.

Noel’s spin-off series is written with a younger audience in mind, but those who have read the Immortal series are sure to enjoy it as well. I’ve read all of the books published so far in the Ever Bloom series, and think that in some ways I prefer this new series. Riley’s afterlife is similar in some ways to the one that Gabrielle Zevin wrote about in Elsewhere, which may be why I liked Radiance as much as I did.

Even though I enjoyed reading it, I was disappointed by one major thing. I had hoped that Riley would have her own unique “voice”, but Noel has written it exactly in the same style that she wrote the books with Ever. On just about every page, a sentence starts with a word ending in -ing or with the word “because”. I wouldn’t mind it so much if she used this sentence structure sparingly, but it overwhelmed me in the Immortal series and now it seems to be taking over this new series.

I still plan on seeing both series through, but I will no longer purchase any of Noel’s works, and they have not earned a place on my keeper shelf. If Noel continues to write in the paranormal genre after both series have ended, I’ll probably skip her future books.

Jennifer graduated from the University of Utah with a BA in English. She occasionally dabbles with her own fiction writing, particularly with the Young Adult and Paranormal genres. She currently resides in Utah with her husband and daughter.

Review copy was provided free of any obligation by Square Fish. No monetary or any other form of compensation was received.