Book Review: Awakening

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Title: Awakening

Book One, The Dark Rituals

Author: Catrina Burgess

Genre: Young Adult, Horror, Paranormal

Publisher: Full Fathom Five Digital


In Awakening, the first installment in the Dark Rituals series, a former healer turns to the Death Arts to seek revenge.

Seventeen-year-old Colina was born a healer. But after a horrific event forces her to leave her clan, she becomes desperate to learn the dark magic of the death dealers, mages who draw their power from the spirits of the dead. Colina was taught to fear and hate death dealers, but becoming one of them is the only way for her to get the revenge she seeks—and the only way for her to survive.

Colina asks a young death dealer named Luke to help her, but he’s reluctant to train her in the Death Arts. Little does she know convincing him to teach her will be the easiest part of her journey. To become a death dealer, Colina will need to undergo three dark rituals, each more terrifying than the last. At the same time, she’ll have to deal with her growing feelings for her mentor. Too bad the first ritual involves him strangling her to death.

As Colina undergoes the trials, she discovers an untapped darkness within herself. If she survives the horrific rituals and gains dark power, what will she become?


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Awakening brings the reader into a world where magic is real. And it’s very dark magic. From murder to revenge the story will give you chills and be touched at the same time. The story revolves around a teenage girl named Colina whose family has been murdered. She doesn’t know why, but all she knows is that she’s willing to dive into dark magic to get her revenge.

She seeks out a death dealer to teach her to become one of them. To become something that goes against everything that she has known growing up. To become something that magic and non-magic people despise. The journey truly starts when she enters a magic shop and meets Luke and Darla. The brother and sister are watching over the shop for their uncle. At first they don’t take her seriously and tell her to come back, but when she refuses Luke agrees to teach her.

Expecting to have her sit on her decision for a while Luke tells Colina to come back tomorrow night. However, when a gang full of magic haters come to the block Luke and Darla are stuck taking Colina in for the night. As if things can get any worse, a fight breaks out in the alley below hours later and Luke helps the victim. The gang gets scared off when Luke wields his Death Dealer magic and the victim sees him as a threat as well resulting in him getting stabbed.

Colina growing up and training to become a healer tries to save him, but her powers have shifted. Revenge is what she wants and revenge isn’t something a healer feels. Colina struggles with becoming a Death Dealer but she doesn’t have a choice. The men that killed her family are after her and she needs the dark magic a Death Dealer has to protect herself.

The danger thickens when those very men track her down. Luke isn’t strong enough to fight them and Darla along with Colina get taken. Colina is a fighter though and throws herself out of a moving car to escape the fate she knows will happen if she stays captured by these strangers. Darla, Luke’s sister however, doesn’t escape their hold.

After running in circles Colina goes back to the magic shop expecting to find Luke dead, but he’s not. Once Colina tells him that Darla was taken he agrees to make her a Death Dealer like she wanted. Three rituals. Three awful rituals she has to complete before she can wield the power of death. First, she has to die. Second, she has to become possessed. And lastly she has to take a life.

As the story progresses Colina starts to get feelings for Luke. And when he strangles her for the first ritual to be completed fear seeps into her crush. But it doesn’t last for long because she asked for this. After he killed her and brought her back, they prepared for the second ritual. Possession. A dark needy spirt takes over Colina’s body demanding that she’s not willing to give it back. Colina has to overcome the spirit and force it out. Lastly and maybe the hardest for Colina, is taking a life. She’s been taught to heal and fight for life not let someone die and help them cross over. Once again she faces a ritual that she doesn’t want to do…but does.

There are many times that men put a stop to them proceeding with the rituals. They keep on tracking them down and Colina nor Luke know how they’re doing it or most importantly why. With the help of some ghosts they find out where Darla is being held and with the rituals completed Colina know holds power over the spirts. She has the ability to call upon lost souls to do her biding, she can now create banshees, but nothing ever goes as planned. Colina is something else entirely.

There were parts of the story that I didn’t love, such as how Colina became a love sick girl over Luke. Then she was terrified of him only to still like him. There was the fact that you didn’t know if she truly wanted to become a Death Dealer. She wants it to get revenge, but then she refuses to do some of the rituals at first or holds some fault on Luke. I understand that she’s been through a lot but some parts seem a bit forced.

As you get further into the ending things don’t end happily and her being hell-bent on revenge causes it all. Colina does get a little selfish as well, which isn’t surprising considering she went against all pleads to walk away when they had the chance, but didn’t and instead got a lot of people killed.

The plot was creative and well written. The three rituals that Colina went through were interesting and deadly at the same time. Even though I didn’t agree with the main character’s personality or action at all times doesn’t mean that the story wasn’t entertaining. I would consider reading the other two books in the series.


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