I received an advance copy of Vendetta, Catherine Doyle’s debut novel, from Chicken House to review. It arrived tied in a black ribbon with a handful of rose petals.
Chicken House, January 2015
YA – Contemporary/Thriller
Sophie Gracewell’s life revolves around working at her uncle’s diner, hanging out with her best friend Millie and her home life with her mother. When five mysterious brothers move into the abandoned old Priestly home, Sophie’s world is changed completely. She is increasingly attracted to Nic, despite being warned that his family is bad news. Soon Sophie is inextricably tangled with the dark underworld of the mafia, and secrets from her own family are revealed…
I found the comparison of Sophie and Nic’s love story to Romeo and Juliet to be a bit heavy handed, the two have their own ‘what’s in a name?’ scene and are strongly presented as star-crossed lovers. I definitely found the action parts more enjoyable, maybe because the good girl gets caught up with bad boy thing has been done so often before and doesn’t appeal to me personally. However,I did like Nic’s character, and his brother Luca too. The brothers were interesting characters, even if they did seem to exclaim in Italian a lot. Luca was particularly interesting as his motives were hard to work out. Millie’s character brought comedy to the book, and I enjoyed the descriptions of characters, particularly this one which made me laugh:
‘Robbie Stenson, a stockier, way less attractive version of a Ken Doll, who came complete with floppy brown hair and groomed eyebrows. H didn’t walk so much as lope around, kind of like a stylish troll.’
That said, I found the thriller part of the book very exciting. There is an excellent twist, and the pacing in the second half makes for a gripping read. Doyle creates a lot of mystery and intrigue with the Falcone family and sustains this throughout the novel. Sophie’s complicated feelings about her family were also handled well (don’t want to spoil anything here) and I felt these relationships were dealt with very well.
While I had mixed feelings about Vendetta, it is good to have a new voice in Irish YA, and I look forward to seeing what Catherine Doyle writes next.