At seventeen, Caleo has never had what might be termed a normal life. Orphaned as a baby, he has been brought up by his eccentric grandmother at The Purple Rose bed and breakfast. He doesn’t fit in at school, bullied equally for his unusual pale skin and white hair as for being gay. However, when a stranger turns up to inform Caleo that he is part of a supernatural race called leeches, magical beings who steal the energy from those around them in order to fuel their gifts, things get a whole lot more complicated.

Not only is Caleo a leech, he’s the most powerful of all leeches, and holds their fate in his hands. Moreover, he finds himself plunged into the midst of what is effectively a civil war, with rival factions battling for rule. Those on both sides are desperate to turn Caleo’s ability to their advantage, and will go to any lengths to gain control over him. With cities and towns flattened by rebel bombs, and just as many people wanting to kill as make use of him, Caleo must decide where his loyalties lie whilst fighting to stay alive.

At least he has his family to help him through, Jack most of all. Raised as his foster brother, Jack is the closest Caleo has to a friend. Caleo’s love for him is obvious, even if he scarcely allows himself to acknowledge it. Well, he has long since accepted there can be no future for them. Jack is popular, athletic and incredibly handsome, while Caleo is a freak, a social outcast. He has no idea just how much Jack really cares about him, but will Jack have the courage to confess his feelings before it’s too late and circumstances tear them apart?

This may be a work of fantasy, but there’s a gritty realism about it that appealed to me. Good people die, and those who are left must learn how to survive in a world that has become hostile overnight. I also found the concept of leeches, these creatures that drain the energy from humans merely to increase their strength, a fascinating one. Though there are undoubtedly some editing issues, this in no way spoilt my enjoyment in the story.

If you’re a fan of young adult fantasy, prefer novels with plenty of adventure, and are interested in how individuals cope when civilization as they know it collapses around them, you may want to give this book a go.

Written for Rainbow Book Reviews

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