Title: The Fetch
Author: Laura Whitcomb
Genre: Young Adult/Fantasy/History
Summary: Calder is a Fetch, a spirit who guides souls through the Aisle and to the gates of Heaven. He's never understood why he was chosen for this responsibility, and frequently, he feels unworthy of his immortal status. Everything changes when he meets Glory, a vibrant mortal whom he feels is destined to be his Star Fetch, his chosen apprentice. In order to get closer to her, Calder breaks his Fetch Vows and enters the mortal world. His rash actions throw earth and the spirit world into chaos, and Calder must help set both worlds right again, while protecting the humans he has come to love...
Excerpt: "Calder was a Fetch, a death escort, and had been since his own death at the age of nineteen. He had been a Fetch for three hundred and thirty years, and so had seen many women in the Death Scenes to which he had been sent. He'd watched women drowning, one with seaweed twisting her gown into a mermaid tail, another in a pond surrounded by lilies that glowed like funeral offerings about her floating hair..."
Review: I saw this book on the top shelf at Books-a-Million several weeks ago, and I nearly jumped out of my skin when I saw it. Laura Whitcomb is an author I have come to admire from her previous YA novel, A Certain Slant of Light, and I was thrilled that she had written a new book. As I found out more about the plot, I became even more excited; not only did The Fetch promise to have just as much supernatural mythology as A Certain Slant of Light did, but the plot also centered around the last of the Romanov family and their tragic fate during the Russian Revolution. I've read several fiction and non-fiction books on the subject, and Laura Whitcomb seemed like she was going to marry two fantastic ideas together.
Certainly, Whitcomb proves that she is an insane genius when it comes to supernatural tales. All the elements I loved so much in A Certain Slant of Light are present: souls longing for Heaven, body-snatching, atonement, an inventive, imaginative take on death.
However, the book soon began to drag. The pacing seemed a bit rushed at first, and it may take some readers a little while to get used to Whitcomb's writing style.
Another concern I have is how easily the story (at least the first half of the book) can be followed by people not familiar with the story of the last Romanovs. I know I quite enjoyed Whitcomb's explanations for many of the bizarre circumstances surrounding the family, but whether fresh readers will get all the historical nods, I'm not sure.
Once the plot freed itself of the historical barriers, though, it became an immensely enjoyable, decidedly Whitcomb-esque read. Whitcomb doesn't try too hard to explain every uncertainty in her spiritual lore; after all, much of Heaven and souls is open to interpretation, and she builds a beautiful story. As a result, there may be some unanswered questions or confusion, but nothing that wasn't present in her previous works. Yes, the book is a bit long, and the plot may seem kind of slow to some readers, but anyone who's a fan of her other novels should be quite pleased. I don't believe this book is quite as poignant as A Certain Slant of Light, simply because her last novel dealt with many heavy issues, while The Fetch is only slightly thought-provoking. I really, really enjoyed it, though, and I hope others will give it a chance.
Overall: A bit dull in spots, but once you throw yourself into the world, it becomes a wonderful read.
Recommended for: Fans of Laura Whitcomb, fans of Romanov history, fans of interesting supernatural romance