Reviewed By K.J. Simmill for Readers’ Favorite
Katie, left scarred by a tragic accident, plans to spend the summer holidays hiding away in her sleepy little town. The burns were bad enough, but the person she thought loved her was so repulsed that he dumped her, shattering what little self-confidence remained. It was only when she witnessed the new neighbours dragging the unconscious figure of a boy into their house that things began to change. Strange happenings are afoot, and little does she know that her own curiosity will bring trouble to their sleepy town. Sam, the boy next door, and his curious secrets rekindle her spirit, but she is not the only one to change. Soon she once more stands alone, with only Sam beside her as the most monumental battle in history is brought to her door.
Alex Dunn will successfully capture your attention as he brings to life his own spin on angel and demons in Samael. One thing is for sure, you'll be hard pushed to tear yourself away from this gripping tale. Samael focuses around the two main protagonists, Katie and Sam. Katie's accident has left her a shell of the person she once was. Through the plot you have the great pleasure of watching her broken heart and soul slowly repair, as you not only learn about Sam, her new neighbour, but also the unusual circumstances surrounding him. This tale of discovery, both of self and secrets hidden and forgotten, is supported by a small cast of secondary characters, who are individuals in their own right and as such are able to enhance the plot in their own way. Alex Dunn writes with finesse, and breathes life into the character-driven plot effortlessly. There's peril, temptation, more than a fair share of the mysterious, and teenage troubles in this well-written, steady-paced urban fantasy.
Reviewed By Kim Anisi for Readers’ Favorite
Katie, the main character of the supernatural, young adult fantasy thriller Samael by Alex Dunn, thinks that no boy or man would ever truly love her after an accident during a bonfire night causes horrible burns on her body. She hides her burns under her clothing as much as she can, and is sure every boy would immediately stop being interested in her if she ever wore something more revealing. Her mother, a rather eccentric but charismatic character (at least to me), asks angels for help to bring love, laughter, and hope back into her daughter's life. What nobody expected was that a true angel would turn up. But not all angels are beings of light, and some have a rather complicated backstory. Sam, his two guardians and a weird cat (well, weirder than cats in general) move in next door to Katie. But the new neighbours are surrounded by mysteries right from the start. Why is Sam so obsessed with demons? Katie also can't quite believe how happy he makes her feel - but is it more than friendship?
I loved a variety of aspects in Samael by Alex Dunn. There were plenty of vegan characters, and unlike in many other books, they weren't presented as people who will either starve to death, die of malnutrition, try to force their views on everyone, eat only cardboard, and/or are generally portrayed in a light that makes all vegans look like morons. You can't imagine how nice it is for other vegans to actually see vegan protagonists as "normal" people. So a big thank you to the author for that! I loved how different all of the characters were, and you often wouldn't need to see the name of a person because they have their own unique ways. There was enough description to make it easy to have a picture of each character in your mind, but not too many descriptions which would limit a reader's own imagination. I know how hard it is to find that balance. I definitely struggle with describing humans in my own writing!
Now to the plot and its pace. I was able to read the book in just a few days, but that's not because the novel is short! It's because it was hard to put the book down, and I kind of missed my usual bed time a few nights in a row. No regrets though - it's nothing an extra cup of coffee can't cure in the mornings. The story moved on in a way that never bored you, but also never overwhelmed you with too much happening at the same time. You never had to backtrack or skip a few pages. It's the kind of story where you enjoy being with the characters on every page. I'll be on the lookout for other books from this author and not just as eBooks; she's actually worth a space on my shelf!
Reviewed By Susan Sewell for Readers’ Favorite
An emotionally and physically scarred adolescent girl, who has withdrawn from the world, unexpectedly finds herself enmeshed in a battle of angelic forces in the exciting young adult novel, Samael by Alex Dunn. After a freak mishap that leaves her disfigured, Katy's boyfriend dumps her. Feeling ugly and socially unacceptable, Katy quits going out and stays home. Worried that Katy has withdrawn from her social circle, Katy's mom does a ritual asking angels for assistance. When Katy happens upon the spell, she intervenes and angrily challenges the existence and powers of the angels. Soon after, a strange family moves in next door; two sisters and their male teenage ward, Sam.
Sam is in Katy's year, and they instantly bond, despite Sam's unusually quirky behavior. However, with the arrival of a substitute teacher, circumstances change, and Katy suspects Sam of betraying their friendship with the new instructor. A dangerous threat is developing within the school walls, and Sam seems to be the intended target. With her ego bruised and sore, Katy has to decide whether she is mature enough to let go of her selfish, petty feelings and help Sam, or if she is going to sit back and watch him suffer. As extraordinary events begin to occur, Katy comes to the realization she may have made a mistake messing with her mother's mystical ritual. Are angels real and did her interference put her and those she cares about in danger?
Samael by Alex Dunn is a thrilling young adult novel with supernatural and mystical overtones. It is a captivating story with intense conflicts dogging the footsteps of the protagonists each step of the way, rendering the book 'unputdownable.' The mystical aspects of angels, past lives, reincarnation, eating raw foods, and the eco-friendly avenues explored are intriguing and thought-provoking. It is a breath-taking novel that is action packed and filled with enough drama, mystery, excitement, romance, and teenage angst to satisfy those who enjoy paranormal adventures with adolescent protagonists. It is a brilliantly written story; I recommend it to those who are fans of mystery and the supernatural.
Reviewed By Bruce Arrington for Readers’ Favorite
Samael by Alex Dunn is a teen mystery/fantasy about Katie and her neighbors who move in next door. Two women, a cat and a lethargic teenage boy are not who they appear to be. Their coming will change Katie’s life in more ways than she can imagine. Is Sam really a typical teenage boy or is he a teen with problems that seem to span millennia? Is he an angel? A demon? Both?
This book delves into the fantasy realm, mixing religion and history, powers of heaven and the underworld. Yet it is more YA and tends to focus on Katie, her bottomed out self-esteem, and her romantic wishes toward Sam, the ultimate gentleman and protector. I like the way that Dunn portrays her characters—like real people caught up in everyday life. None of them are super sleuths or super smart, except perhaps for the enemy, who is also very believable. Katie is into her own world so often that she has trouble seeing life from another perspective, adding realism into the mix.
The book is an easy read and the text flows smoothly. Dunn is obviously an experienced writer who knows how to set the hook and pull hard. And reel you in it does, because once I got into the book it was hard to put down. Samael by Alex Dunn is highly recommended for readers who enjoy suspense, mystery and romance reads.
Reviewed By Tracy Young for Readers’ Favorite
Katie used to have porcelain skin. Katie used to have a boyfriend called Noah. Now she has neither. A rogue firework on Bonfire Night has changed Katie's life, and she is left with scars that go much deeper than skin deep. Lacking in self-confidence, she is breaking her mum's heart; her once gregarious daughter is turning into a recluse. In desperation, she constructs a fairy altar and asks for help from the angels. The following day Katie finds Sam in the woods. Protected by a host of animals, this beautiful Asian boy with the amber eyes is about to turn her world upside down. His strange guardians and ever-present pet cat are no barrier to their friendship, but they face much greater foes. Alex Dunn has created a world of good versus evil in Samael and the battle is fierce!
I loved this book. It is filled with characters that are engaging and quirky. Katie's mum and her raw food business provide a light relief and Lucy, the aging author of over ninety murder mystery novels, is a delight. Alex Dunn tells a tale of angels and their battles, with glorious descriptions of fantastic clashes. Samael is a classic example of the inner struggles we all face and how beauty really is from within. This is a story of pure and simple love, but will it be enough to conquer all the obstacles thrown before it? Whatever the outcome, the journey is a thrilling one, so strap yourself in and enjoy!
“In Samael, a gripping young-adult thriller by Alex Dunn, Katie’s life is turned upside-down when she meets Sam, who is much more than just the new boy next door. Katie’s fairly normal teenage life was interrupted violently when an accident caused serious and lasting trauma, both physical and emotional. As she struggles to regain a sense of identity, Sam appears in her life with a strange family, a strange background, and a strange cat. His identity is just as problematic, it seems. As Katie and Sam grow closer over the summer and the following school year, impossibly supernatural events begin occurring in Katie’s life, causing her to question the nature of reality itself. Why is Katie’s best friend acting strangely? Who is Sam, really? And why is the internet down?” Kelly R., Line Editor, Red Adept Editing
"There is something strange and alluring about Katie's gorgeous new next-door neighbor, Sam. As Katie gets to know him, she begins to learn that cosmic forces are at play all around her. Fans of fantasy and young adult fiction are sure to appreciate this imaginative book!" Kristina B., Proofreader, Red Adept Editing