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WesternSFA
Dreaming Awake
by Gwen Hayes
New American Library; $9.99; 322 pp
Release Date: January 3, 2012

This book follows nicely on the heels of Hayes’ previous YA novel, “Falling Under” (“Under” being the name of the Underworld where nightmares are spawned).

This was an outstanding second novel: compelling, emotional and really engrossing.

Theia Alderson, 17, has survived her meeting with the mother of her boyfriend, Haden Black, a half-demon, half-human male. His mother, Mara, is Queen of Under and is a nasty, manipulative witch who really doesn’t love Haden much save that he’ll be her heir one day and rule Under.

Haden loves Theia and the two of them try to maintain a normal teenaged existence in Serendipity Falls , CA going to high school, hanging out with friends…and dealing with the nastiness Haden’s mother visits upon them. But all that normalness begins to unravel.

In this tale, Mara ratchets up her aggressive behavior towards Theia and branches out to attack her friends and even Theia’s cool, remote barrister father. Mara keeps creating such conflict for Haden that Theia decides she should break up with him so she (and her friends and family) is no longer a lure for Mara, thus freeing Haden to be who he wants to be: a mostly normal young man not tied to and controlled by the darkness of Under.

Because Theia has some of Mara’s blood running in her veins (see the previous book) she decides finally to confront Mara and bring her vicious acts to a halt. Theia’s high school is beginning to fill with half-alive teenagers because someone is draining their souls (Souls are the food of choice for demons). Then Mara latches on to Theia’s dad by dating him. Theia decides if she’s part demon, she might as well start kicking butt back and utilize some of her previously unwanted and mostly unacknowledged demon abilities. Theia grows up and takes on the horror that Mara is trying to drown her life with.

A whopper of a fight between Theia and Mara takes place in Under as Theia tries to save her friends from Mara’s terrifying efforts to destroy them.  All does not end happily (as in the previous novel) but again, the ending is very satisfying. Theia and Haden both grow as individuals and get that much closer to consummating their relationship. Which of course, might just change everything.

This as an excellent YA novel: you care about the characters; they are very believable with plenty of angst and hair style issues.  A wonderful read. ~~ Sue Martin

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