Finding Sky transports its teenage heroine from South London to remote Wrickenridge in the American Rockies when her adoptive parents are offered jobs as artists-in-residence. This is the first of a number of plot devices which creak – Simon and Sally are being sponsored by a handy local multi-millionaire who admires their work – but verisimilitude isn’t the point in this high-octane supernatural thriller.
The plot hurtles Sky Bright to Colorado in order that she can meet, resist and fall for charismatic Zed, seventh child of a seventh child in the Benedict family, each of whom has a different supernatural Gift – whether for healing, second sight, telepathy, telekinesis, insight into the past and so on.
It is rapidly revealed that the Benedicts are a family of Savants and that Sky is a Savant with special gifts too. She has had intimations of these as a child, with an ability to perceive auras and read thoughts, but a traumatic childhood prior to adoption has led her to distrust herself. Meeting Zed, her gifts revive as the pair can apparently channel each other’s thoughts with ease – more than a tad embarrassing at times as Sky struggles with a powerful attraction despite Zed’s reputation as one of Wrickenridge High’s bad boys.
Zed reveals to Sky that they are each other’s ‘Soulfinder’, two complementary halves of a whole. This brings more than personal complications in its wake, as the Benedict family are employed by the FBI to use their gifts in the service of justice. They have already fallen foul of the corrupt and powerful Kelly family, based In Las Vegas, and as a close associate via Zed, Sky is in immediate danger – both physical and metaphysical, since the Kellys are a Savant family too. Unlike the Benedicts however, who are part of a benign global web, the Savant Network, the Kellys are evil mavericks, who use their gifts to exploit other weaknesses. Countering their machinations means Sky must face buried traumas.
Despite some unevenness of tone – Sky sounds transatlantic from the beginning of her arrival in the States, although this may be due to her predilection for superhero and sci-fi movies – this is an enormously engaging novel for teens and it will be a rare girl who does not fall for moody-tender Zed.
Stirling keeps readers on tenterhooks with the twists and turns of the thriller element of the tale, while the supernatural lends poignancy, humour and spice to a thoroughly mesmerising romance, which is all about finding not only your ‘other half’, but your true self. Firsthand research in the States grounds the story in a well-realised dramatic landscape.