Review by J. S. Colley
To get the technical stuff out of the way, I’m required to state that I am acquainted with Melissa Conway through social networking. This is not an admission that my review is biased in any way. I read a pre-publication copy of this book (although I ended up purchasing a copy for my niece to read!).
I have read several books written by Melissa Conway. I feel this is one of her best—or maybe a close second to Xenofreak Nation. If I had to categorize it, I would call it a YA paranormal romance with a hint of historical fiction.
Selfsame is an apt title for this novel; it is about a girl whose soul has been split in two. At birth, Enid’s skin turns “the color o’twilight.” Her grandmother calls on Bear Talker, a Moheconneok (Mohawk) medicine man, to try and save the child. He succeeds, but not entirely. He claims that half of her spirit was left in another place and time. Enid would be forever “nesche—two” and she would have two lives to live.
When Enid goes to sleep in colonial America, the other half of her soul, Sorcha, wakes up two centuries in the future. Each girl is affected by what happens to her counterpart in the other world. Each feels, and remembers, what the other experienced while she was asleep. Sorcha hates the hardships and discrimination Enid must face every day, and Enid is frustrated by knowing what advances there will be in the centuries to come and not yet available in her world. She does use what knowledge she can to help those around her.
With all the danger that Enid encounters, the reader wonders what would become of Sorcha if something happened to Enid. Would her soul survive? Just when things become increasingly dangerous in Enid’s world, Sorcha meets Ben Webster in hers. He tells Sorcha that his family has been desperately searching for her for over two hundred years. What is the connection? Why is the Webster family so interested in Sorcha? They know something that they won’t—or can’t—tell Sorcha.
The author does a superb job of building the tension by alternating chapters between each of the girls’ stories. There are some heartbreaking, as well as tender, moments. Even though this story is classified as “paranormal,” Conway makes it all seem very believable.
I found myself eagerly turning the pages, anxious to know what was going to happen next. This book will appeal to young adults as well as older readers.