Author: Cait Reynolds
Genre: YA Paranormal
Received: For Review
Published: May 28th, 2015 by Book Trope
What would you do when faced with an impossible truth? Written with heart and passion, Downcast by Cait Reynolds is ripe with twists you never saw coming and love that defies the odds in this intense new Paranormal Romance retelling one of mythology’s greatest love stories.
It’s the start of Stephanie Starr’s senior year of high school, but sadly, this is no life of the prom queen. Stuck at the bottom of the high school social totem pole, Stephanie is forced by her domineering mother to wear lumpy linen dresses and eat organic tofu for lunch in a world of mini-skirts and pizza.
What Stephanie doesn’t anticipate is gorgeous and cocky Haley Smith who breaks social convention and pursues her with a determination that is both terrifying and flattering. Afraid that Haley is simply trying to set her up for massive humiliation, Stephanie does her best to push him away. But the more attention he pays to her, the more she runs, and the more everyone else begins to notice.
Instead of a loving family to support her as the mean girls make their play, Stephanie’s mother begins to unravel mentally, her possessiveness of Stephanie spiraling to new and frightening extremes. Stephanie is forced to grow up, find herself, and learn the truth about her past in order to save her mother, her friends, and her town. When the truth is revealed, nothing can prepare her for the outrageous reality of her existence…and nothing can save her from her fate. Except Haley.
About Cait Reynolds
Cait Reynolds lives in Boston area with her husband and 4-legged fur child. She discovered her passion for writing early and has bugged her family and friends with it ever since. When she isn’t cooking delicious meals, running around the city, rock climbing like a boss, or enjoying the rooftop deck that brings her closer to the stars, she writes. Reynolds is able to pull from real life experiences such as her kidney transplant, and her writing reflects her passion for life from having to face the darkest places and find the will to laugh.
Walking a Mile…or 80,000 Words…in Your Character’s Shoes
I love myself, and I hate myself. For the same reason.
One of the things that gets me really excited about writing is having the opportunity to jump into a new character’s head and rummage around to see what kind of interesting things are lurking in their thoughts.
It’s basically the same thing I hate about jumping into a new character’s head.
It’s all unknown until I actually get to know that person.
Most of the time, I don’t have much trouble decided how a character would react in a situation or to a piece of dialogue. But, once in a while, I hit a brick wall.
For love or money (or both), I can’t seem to get the voice right. In fact, I’ve been struggling with this very problem right now as I write Thunderstruck, the sequel to Downcast.
In Downcast, I worked for so many years in Stephanie’s voice and lived in her head, that it was almost second nature to make decisions for her. But, in Thunderstruck, I am speaking for Stephanie’s best friend, Helen. And, while I know her from Downcast, she is being recalcitrant in revealing her true motivations and her true feelings to me in Thunderstruck.
So, what am I to do?
Well, the first technique I usually try in a situation like this is to just bulldoze through the difficulty and make progress, come hell or high water.
I did this with Helen, and it resulted in me moping about and resentfully playing word games on my iPad because I was so unhappy with the way the first few chapters were turning out.
I found I was genuinely angry with Helen for being so unhelpful. I know, it sounds ridiculous that I was angry at my own character, but that’s the truth of how I felt.
After spending two days fretting and obsessively rereading the first chapter, I arrived at the point where I could deploy my second technique: brutal, angry honesty with myself.
Finally, I could admit to myself that I didn’t like the way Helen was reacting to the events of the last book. I didn’t like the relationships I had set her up with to start Thunderstruck. She came across as melodramatic and whiny, when I know for a fact that she is anything but that.
Once I admitted that to myself and became unglued from the commitment to the stuff I had already typed up, I could make some real changes.
And, boy, did I!
I kicked another character out of the book (that brings my total so far up to three – this book is turning into a literary episode of Survivor), and I shaped up Helen’s attitude.
Yes, she would still be feeling some of the effects of what happened in the last book, but I had been forcing her to feel all the feels, when she’s not a feel all the feels kind of person. Instead, I asked her what really kept her awake at night, and her answer surprised me because it was both raw and powerful…and very much in character.
You read that right. I asked Helen directly. That’s technique number three: confrontation.
I have been known to mutter to myself as I type, “Seriously, what the eff are you doing? You’re not supposed to be doing that in this scene. Can you make my life any harder?” I’ve also spouted off, “You know that you’re going to get in trouble for this. This is a bad decision that you are making. You do realize that, right?”
Sometimes, I just have to check in with my characters, especially in those wonderful but crazy moments when they take on a life of their own and do something totally unexpected.
I will also confront a character if they are being resistant to being portrayed in a particular scene. Why doesn’t she want to be there? Does she have somewhere else to be? Why didn’t she tell me about it?
Finally, if I am really still unhappy with everything, I sigh resignedly and give myself over to technique number four: remember that this will be edited.
At this point, I hope that as I write more and more in Helen’s voice that it will come clearer and stronger to me. I have a feeling that by the end of the book, I’ll be producing amazing jags of prose in her voice, and then I’ll go back to the first chapters and wonder what the hell was I thinking she was thinking.
Knowing an outside editor will be working on this manuscript gives me a great deal of reassurance. I know that my editor will look at the places that are weak and give me actual guidance as to what needs to be done. Sometimes, it’s a case of the forest for the trees, and you need someone else to help you take a step back and actually listen for what the character is saying.
Oh, and actually, finally, there is technique number five: don’t give up…just keep going until you type “the end.”
I admit to being a complete mood reader all the time and Downcast was what satisfied my paranormal romance mood. I started this late one night and couldn't stop reading it. Cait Reynolds hooked me in right away. So much so that I was reading this on my phone and only stopped reading it that night because my phone was dying (my outlet spot sucks because I would have kept reading). I was reading this book everywhere. I think I even was reading it in the supermarket. I found the story to be very engaging and fast paced. Being something that I love, Greek Mythology, this book was right up my alley.
What I loved most about Downcast was the use of Greek Mythology. This centers around the Hades and Persephone myth, which has been done quite a lot in YA. I loved how Cait Reynolds portrayed each character's personality based on the god or goddess they were. In particular, I found her portrayal of Demeter to be thought provoking and a view that I don't think I have ever seen in YA or gave a second thought to in the myth itself. That characterization of Demeter was fascinating.
Let's talk swoon worthy boys now because oh boy Haley is one! I loved this love/hate romance. It just screams paranormal romance and I adored it. Hayley was both aloof and funny. He was a character that made you keep reading. Stephanie on the other hand is very bland. She is definitely portrayed that way for a reason, but it was a bit annoying to read.
I really loved how crazy and action packed the end of the book became. Stuff went down alright! It was epic battle worthy. It did make the beginning of the book and the end feel a bit disjointed. I am really excited to see where Cait Reynolds takes these characters in the sequel. I do hope to see how she works in other Greek Myth characters.
Downcast is perfect for fans of Jennifer L. Armentrout and anyone looking for a fun paranormal read that is both unique as well as action packed.