Book Review: Sleight by Jennifer Sommersby

Sleight by Jennifer Sommersby

Genres: Young adult, paranormal, fantasy.

Her mom is dead.
Ghosts follow her around.
Her best friend is an elephant.
And she’s about to meet the biggest game changer of all: a boy. With a secret.

When circus-dwelling Gemma Flannery learns she will be attending public school for the first time in her seventeen years, little does she know that fitting in with her 12th-grade classmates will be the least of her concerns. A pro at hiding her knack for seeing the dead (“shades”), Gemma is grieving the recent suicide of her mentally ill mother, a process eased by the introduction of her first real love interest, the charming and painfully handsome Henry Dmitri, who is harboring his own collection of dangerous secrets. Together, they will be presented with a frightening challenge: to assume their roles as heirs to a 3000-year-old magical text, the AVRAKEDAVRA, a book the über-rich, sleight-of-being master Lucian Dmitri would do anything to get his hands on.

I have to admit, I’m generally quite sceptical about self-published books. I tend to assume that if a book does not have a publisher behind it, it must be unedited and have a badly written, fanfiction-like storyline. It can’t be worth reading because it if was, it would have been picked up by a publisher by now. This is an interesting thought because, after all, all books were unpublished once.

When I read the summary, I was even more wary about the mention of a circus. I like to think I am generally open-minded about different genres and topics but if I was browsing bookshelves in a bookstore and I came across the word “circus”, I’d put the book down straight away without even finishing the sentence and I’d move onto the next book. I voiced this concern to Jennifer and she assured me that the circus setting was only a backdrop to the storyline.

I’m extremely glad that I did not ignore Jennifer’s request to read and review her book (which I was considering due to the above concerns). I was pleasantly surprised. Sleight is aimed at young-adults and is great mix of paranormal, fantasy, ghost story, romance and what I like to call “realistic fantasy”. All of the main characters, except Lucian (the evil nemesis), are amiable and charismatic. Henry is adorable, cheeky, and treats Gemma with respect, and Irwin is the uncle we’d all love to have. The paranormal aspect of the book is more “my thing”. It is similar to witchcraft in that there is a lot of focus on magic as healing powers. Sleight is a mix between City of Bones and Immortal Beloved. The book even has a City of Bones twist at one point but I won’t spoil it for you…

I referred to it as “realistic fantasy” because the most of the storyline, I think, is about Gemma discovering who she is outside of the circus arena. She has to deal with new experiences and things don’t always go to plan, like in any girls’ life. The relationships between humans are what I always find interesting in books and this one in particular explores the relationship between a girl and her dead mother, her absent father and the circus family that adopted her, and how discovering the AVRAKEDAVRA has implications for these relationships.

Sleight is a fast-paced, thrilling and riveting ride that will appeal to any fan of young-adult fiction.

I normally avoid encouraging people to buy books as I do not feel it’s the book reviewer’s job, but as I already know that Jennifer Sommersby doesn’t have a publisher to do it for her, I really want to this time. Sleight is available as an ebook on and for a small price, and it will soon be released in paperback. If it sounds like your sort of thing, go for it. You won’t be disappointed. Thank you Jennifer for sending me the book to review!

My Rating: ★★★★

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