The press releases about Arwen Elys Dayton’s Seeker compare the story to Game of Thrones and The Hunger Games, which frankly is a disservice. While the plot delves into darker issues than many YA novels, Seeker stands alone as a tale of loss, PTSD, and a quest for personal justice and understanding. I appreciate the unique angle Dayton takes in exploring her world, but the story can be hard to read. Characters go through the wringer, and everyone is painted in shades of grey.
Seeker is marketed as YA, but it’s definitely a novel for mature readers, thanks to some of the subject matter. PTSD, suicidal thoughts, drug use, prostitution, and mental illness play pivotal roles, which both intrigued and upset me. This was not a book I could read quickly, because I needed time to process the events revealed in every chapter. The final message is one of hope and rebirth, though, which I expect will blossom in later installments. Quin, Shinobu, and John - the teen characters - face trials most of us can only imagine, and their decisions influence everything around them.
Fair warning: there is a love triangle of sorts in this book; however, if you’re sick of the “will she/won’t she?” nature of many love triangles, Dayton neatly sidesteps the trope through careful writing. Quin is much more than a romantic object for either of the young men in her life; she may end up with neither of her potential lovers in the end. The romance also never overpowers the primary elements of the story, which is a masterful choice. The author has created a world where emotions rule many of the characters, but anger, revenge, and guilt play much larger parts than teenage flirtations.
I’m sidestepping around the actual plot of Seeker, because I believe it’s a book that will be ruined by knowing too much. Some of the reveals felt like kicks to the stomach, and my visceral reaction improved my reading experience. It’s roughly a fantasy story with a sort of chosen one vibe, but Dayton takes it far beyond the basic hero cycle. No one is merely good or evil; everyone has secrets. I believe that Seeker will make readers think, analyze, and absorb its themes, and it will appeal to many readers beyond the target demographic.
4.5 Vibrating Athame out of 5