The Soul’s Mark, by Ashley Stoyanoff, is a fresh take on the classic fantasy story, but with revitalized interpretations of the mysterious world of vampires and witches.
The tale of Amelia Caldwell begins when this recently-orphaned teenager wins a full-ride scholarship to Willowberg, a university in a small town of the same name that would become her “new start at life.” There, Amelia comes to live with her new pseudo-family, a group of “stunningly gorgeous” but incredibly warm and welcoming twenty-something year olds. Over the next few weeks Amelia learns not only that her new roommates are vampires, but also that she was brought into their world to finally meet her soulmate, Mitchell, who, it is revealed, is also a vampire. On her journey to come to terms with her new life, Amelia discovers much that is surprising about herself, as well.
The many conflicts with which Amelia must contend are not limited to the spell-casting and blood-sucking variety. While she is discovering herself as a member of the supernatural community, she is simultaneously dealing with very real, very human issues. One of these is the overwhelming sense of loss she has continually been battling with since her parents’ tragic deaths. At the end of the novel, Stoyanoff creates a poignant scene in which Amelia comes to terms with her parents’ deaths and must choose between seeing them again in another life or staying with her new family in this one. Amelia’s mother tells her,”It’s never goodbye…The body may die, but the soul never does. We’ll always be here.” This heartfelt message to not dwell on the past, but instead to look to the future is one that might resonate well with the young adult reader as he/she leaves childhood and begins life as an adult.
Another human conflict Amelia has to face is that of a confusing relationship with her soulmate, Mitchell. While Amelia does love Mitchell, he can be too overprotective and clingy, which she hates. In the end, she takes charge of her life and reveals herself as his equal. Amelia’s ability to overcome this problem might connect with many young adult readers dealing with similar issues.
Stoyanoff’s writing style is clean, without being stripped of description. Aside from a few grammatical errors, the pages flow smoothly. Stoyanoff also does a skillful job of creating suspense, with use of flashback at the very beginning and by letting the reader discover the supernatural world along with Amelia.
While this classic vampire-human love story could have been no more than another Twilight- style tale of possession, Stoyanoff takes care to create both an innovative backstory for the creation of vampires as well as a believable and entertaining romance.
Overall, though The Soul’s Mark takes place in the often used supernatural setting, the characters are fresh, the plot is compelling, and the themes it encompasses may appeal to many young adult readers. Unlike many novels of its kind, it balances deeply emotional issues with the ever-exciting supernatural, creating a well-balanced and enjoyable read.