Title: Valentine
Author: Jodi McAlister
Publisher: Penguin Random House Australia
RRP: $19.99

Seventeen-year-old Pearl Linford lives with her older twin siblings in what is usually a quiet country town. But when a strange horse appears at a party and her friend Marie is missing, things become anything but quiet. Marie, Pearl and two boys, Finn and Cardy, were all born on Valentine’s Day, and someone, or something, is looking for one of them. After Marie is murdered Pearl and Cardy are also mysteriously attacked. That they were born on Valentine’s Day is no coincidence, for the Unseelie have come for the Valentine, a Seelie fairy changeling, they just don’t know which one it is. With Marie murdered and out of the picture, they have three to choose from. The reader soon learns it is Finn, whom Pearl outwardly despises, but keeps having dreams and fantasies about. As more friends go missing Pearl and Finn try to solve who is causing all this. Pearl is in increasing danger while trying to hide the truth about Finn, but it is not just Pearl who might get killed.

There are a lot of things I love about this book. It is well written, reading smoothly from the first page. Sometimes it takes a little to settle into a book, to get to know the characters and place them in the narrative. Not this one. The characterisation is strong and dialogue reads effortlessly. Pearl is a smart and funny young woman. This book crosses many genres. It has the supernatural element of fairy magic, realistic element of school life and dealing with the HSC, and social gatherings. It also has a strong humorous element that I really enjoyed. At times I laughed out loud at Pearl’s expressions and the banter between her and Finn. The narrative and setting, although in a different country, reminded me of The Rest of US Just Live Here by Patrick Ness (2015, Walker Books).

I look forward to recommending this to my students. I think it will do well in any library, public and secondary school, and would make the perfect gift for any teen reader. There is just the right amount of everything in this book, including ‘pathetic fallacy’. You will just have to read it to find out more!

Thank you to Penguin Random House Australia for supplying this book for review.

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