Sixteen-year-old Renna Porter has grown out of a painful and uncanny childhood. Her dark dreams are in the past, and she can finally enjoy her life with her three dads and a dozen surrogate siblings. However, a visit from a dapper witch named Job reveals the tragic birthright of her blood. The witch Mab, Job’s tutor and grandmother to Renna perished fighting a vengeful demon twelve years prior. Now it has returned to burn the last branch of Renna’s family tree.
Job tutors Renna in witchcraft while they race to a fortified rectory deep within the Adirondacks. As the demon draws closer, the bond between teacher and student wears thin, and forgotten family steps out of Renna’s past with an offering of dark power. Renna must decide if blood is thicker than water, and which will help her survive against an unstoppable hell-fiend.
First of all, let’s just take a moment to admire that GORGEOUS cover art. Honestly, I’m so in love with it!
There were quite a few things I really enjoyed about Renna’s Crossing. The premise gave an original spin to the whole “teenage hero completely unaware they were born with great powers” trope. Despite not knowing much about the demon, its presence was really felt throughout, as it guided some of the main characters’ choices.
I also really liked the diverse cast, and definitely appreciated seeing a discussion on pronouns early on. Contrary to some other books I’ve read recently, the diversity here didn’t feel token and we weren’t repeatedly bashed over the head with how diverse this book is. Each character brought their own unique background and personality to the game, and that just made it… themselves. So refreshing! I really enjoyed how some elements from different religious traditions were included, and particularly the loa, which I knew nothing about and prompted me to do a bit of research. I really LOVE it when books help me learn something new!
The style was a bit hit-and-miss for me. I tended to really enjoy the descriptions and world-building: they felt extremely vivid, and I could picture it all clearly, which is always a good sign! The dialogues though fell really flat for me. Most of them felt too forced and unnatural, which made them hard to enjoy. It probably didn’t help that as the story progressed, I found most of the characters annoying. The only ones I really cared about by the end were the dads and children in the foster home, and I wish we got to see more of them.
The pacing was also a bit off. The book started off strong and very quickly lost steam, so that for most of it it felt like the story was just dragging on, and then it rushed to the ending. This was really a shame, as it had the potential to be much more gripping! The magic was also slightly underwhelming, and I would have definitely liked to see more of it throughout.
Overall, this was a fairly pleasant read that might appeal to someone looking for a diverse fantasy. It is a slow burn, so avoid if you’re looking for a fast-paced read.