As someone who is a horror fan with very specific tastes (I never dug Friday the 13th), who later crafted horror stories (that no one wanted to buy), and then became a reviewer of the genre, sometimes it’s necessary to recognize that a specific film or novel, while not for you, still has great potential if it can find the correct audience. My Soul to Keep by Jackie Sonnenberg is one such book for me.
The story follows Sky Monroe as she begins a new school year at a private boarding school shortly after the passing of her father – a death that haunts her as the presence of her father is constantly with her. Shortly after arriving at the school she encounters a cult, The Guardians of Light. The group offers Sky a chance to truly connect with her father, but soon Sky realizes that Mitchell Brooks—the group’s leader—may pose a danger to her and her new friend Damian.
As a long-time genre fan My Soul to Keep added no new elements beyond typical genre tropes to keep me engaged in Sky’s journey. However, I was constantly struck by how this story would be perfect for an 11 to 13-year-old reader, a reader who’s just discovering the typical conventions employed in horror fiction. Sonnenberg brings Sky to life in a way will likely connect with a younger reader.
While the adult in me knows the Cult was bad news, the kid in me sees how within the story Sky’s motivations for joining them feels sincere in regards to her characterization. She’s playing with fire, but we readers understand that it’s because she’s cold, so to speak.
So, Ravenous Monster Readers, do I recommend My Soul to Keep, for you? I do not. I do however recommend you pick up a copy for a ‘tween (I think I’m using that correctly) in your life. The pacing of the novel never lags and Sky as a protagonist should be relatable to any angsty youngster.