Title: Reaper's Novice (Soul Collector #1)
Author: Cecilia Roberts
Genre: Urban Fantasy, Young Adult
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17- year- old Ana Maria Tei’s life has always been perfect: loving parents, good grades, and a future so bright it outshone the sun. But now words like “separation” and “divorce” are sending her world plummeting to hell. Determined to keep her family intact, Ana plans a family-bonding trip from Vienna to Tuscany. Except fate has other plans. Ana’s parents and siblings are killed in a car accident on their way to pick Ana up from school.
Enter Grim, aka Ernest. He promises to relinquish the four souls if Ana agrees to trade her soul for theirs and serve a lifetime as his novice. In order for Ana to graduate from her Reaper’s Novice station to a Soul Collector graduate, Grim puts her to test. To her horror, she finds out becoming a Reaper’s Novice didn’t happen by chance. It was preordained, and she is forced to make a choice: save her family’s souls or come to terms with who she really is and complete the task set for her.
Cecilia Robert lives in Vienna with her two children, has an incurable obsession with books, anything romantic, TV and medieval architecture. When not working in her full time job, catching up with her two children, writing or reading, she can be found, knitting or crocheting, taking photos of old buildings.
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I pull Zig inside the Hotel Sacher Confectionery shop, famous for its traditional Sacher torte. Immediately, I’m blasted by the sight of dark chocolate cake and the scent of freshly brewed Viennese coffee, which reminds me of Sunday morning brunch at my house. My stomach grumbles mercilessly.
“Feed that beast in there before it devours us all.” Zig jabs a finger at my belly.
I laugh, and go back to ogling the cakes behind the glass display, picturing Anton smiling and gulping down the dark chocolate cake, apricot jam smeared on his lips. I dig out my savings, hand them to the lady behind the counter, and point at the smallest of the Sacher tortes. A few minutes later, Zig and I exit the shop and join the stream of pedestrians, strolling in and out of shops with bags in hand.
At the corner of Kärntner Strasse and Opernring, we stop to wait for the lights to change. A tram zips by. My gaze automatically drifts to the Vienna State Opera House. This is where magic happens.
When I was thirteen, our class visited the Opera House on an excursion. I remember walking through arched doorways and carpeted hallways, promising myself over and over that one day, this will be my dream.
Funny how life changes, twisting and turning dreams inside out, wringing them dry.
My stomach twists at the memory. I need to get out of here. Fast. I blink quickly, averting my gaze from Zig. Him seeing my face right now is the last thing I want.
“So what do you say?” he asks, oblivious to my current state. The light changes, and we join the crowd of people crossing the street. “Join me?” I give him a sidelong glance. “Do you trust me?” he asks when I don’t answer his questions.
“Would a deer trust a leopard to a cuddle?” I say, eyebrows raised.
He narrows his eyes. “Which one am I? The leopard or the deer?”
“Do you trust me?”
He doesn’t miss a beat. “Completely.”
I miss two beats. “Why? You hardly know me.”
“I just do. Come on, an hour of pure fun won’t kill you.”
I sigh. “Maybe later.” His shoulders sag. “Would you like to join me?”
His eyes light up, giving him a boyish look. “Never thought you’d ask.” He takes my hand. In the next step, we shift to the hospital.
“You’re reckless, you know that?” I say, placing a hand on the door of room 112. “Don’t you care that people notice when you disappear right before their eyes?”
“They’ll have something to talk about.”
I shake my head. “You could at least let me practise my shifting skills.”
“Aren’t I always?” He grins.
“Do you even know the meaning of that word?”
He winks. “You’d be surprised.”
I roll my eyes and walk inside the room.