Sophia (known as Fia) is the younger of two sisters, Annabelle (known as Annie) is the older. She is blind. Their parents died seven years before this story begins.
The sisters hear of the Keane school, where a treatment is available that might restore Annie’s sight. Fia insists on accompanying her sister to Keane because she feels that there is something slightly suspect about the place. To help matters, after a single interview Annie has been offered a full scholarship.
The sisters learn that the Keane is not really a school at all but a training centre for girls with psychic gifts. There are of course no male pupils. What boy could possibly have such perceptive talents? The girls are divided into skill groups. The Seers can see snatches of the future. The Readers can read the thoughts of other people. The Feelers can sense the emotions of other people. Although the presence of the sisters at the Keane was supposed to be helpful to Annie, it turns out that Fia is the star. She seems to have the combined gifts of Seer, Reader and Feeler.
The talents of these gifted teenagers are, it transpires, to be put at the disposal of some unusual masters – the Mafia, run in the school by Mr Keane, whose son James will eventually own the place. The psychic girls are expected to learn how to become skilled assassins.
As the narrative unfolds Fia enters a blizzard of conflicting emotions. She wants above all to protect her sister, in keeping with a promise she made to her parents. But the skills she develops in order to understand and foil the threats to Annie are also the very skills her masters want her to develop, in order to become a more accomplished slayer. Quite a conflict. How far will she go to protect Annie? Will she ever learn to Feel?
The narrative pace of this novel is lightning fast. It’s a compulsive read, impossible to put down once taken up. The characterisation is strong. Fia is so unbelievably malign that her actions leave the reader jaw-dropped. Girls who are used to safe modes of existence will be bowled over. At the start of the book Annie is a credible character, easily irritated because her blindness renders her vulnerable to being babied. The later developments of the book somewhat spoil the presentation of Annie in ways I won’t divulge.