The Marked Son (Keepers of Life #1)

By Shea Berkley

Publisher: Entangled Publishing, LLC
Publication Date: August 2, 2011
Genre: Young Adult Paranormal
Source: Publisher

Seventeen-year-old Dylan Kennedy always knew something was different about him, but until his mother abandoned him in the middle of Oregon with grandparents he’s never met, he had no idea what.

When Dylan sees a girl in white in the woods behind his grandparents’ farm, he knows he’s seen her before…in his dreams. He’s felt her fear. Heard her insistence that only he can save her world from an evil lord who uses magic and fear to feed his greed for power.

Unable to shake the unearthly pull to Kera, Dylan takes her hand. Either he’s completely insane or he’s about to have the adventure of his life, because where they’re going is full of creatures he’s only read about in horror stories. Worse, the human blood in his veins has Dylan marked for death…

Goodreads Summary

Ever since Dylan could remember, he’d been having vivid dreams about a beautiful girl in a meadow. She would always meet him in this secret dream world when he needed her the most. After his mother’s latest failed relationship, she and Dylan are moving yet again to the next nameless small town. They eventually end up on a sheep farm in the-middle-of-nowhere Oregon, where Dylan meets his grandparents for the very first time. That night, Dylan’s mom admits that they came here so she could leave Dylan behind, and she walks out the door. This time for good.

Since Dylan’s arrival on the farm, strange things have been happening. He thinks he sees a ghost, and someone has been stealing his grandfather’s sheep for ritual sacrifices. The atmosphere is uneasy, and Dylan believes his mysterious ghost is to blame. He’s not sure, but he thinks his ghost might be the girl from his dreams. Along with a few new friends, he sets a trap for the “ghost” with hopes of finally getting some answers. Much to his surprise, it is the girl from his dreams and she’s actually alive. After a few brief encounters she manages to convince him to cross the veil to Teague, her home, since she believes Dylan is the only one who can save her world from an evil warlord intent on being king. The last half of the book is about their adventures in Teague and the things they discover about eachother, and themselves.

The Marked Son is slow out of the gate. The first half of the book is basically build-up, and since we are following events in two different worlds, there is a ton of it. While Dylan and Kera meet fairly early in the book, the explanation of who or what anyone is doesn’t happen until later. Way later. In fact, one of my notes actually says “49% in and I still have no idea what’s going on.” I was way past ready for the world building to end when the author finally decided to explain what was going on. The novel also dragged in a few spots, and I skimmed through one whole chapter devoted to Dylan’s and Kera’s chase and capture of the pux – these firefly/tinkerbell type creatures that could make humans their slaves.

I found The Marked Son to be slightly Twilightesque. Pacific Northwest setting? Check. Meadow? Check. Intense and inexplicable love at first sight? Check. Moody, mysterious powers, kind of a jerk hero? Check. Unskilled, emotional and slightly TSTL heroine? Check. At least in Twilight I felt the chemistry. In The Marked Son, I just couldn’t. I didn’t get the relationship between the two characters. Sure, they’d been having dreams about eachother their whole lives, but literally the first moment they meet they’re already making declarations? It was too much, too soon for me I’m afraid. They were so focused on being together to the exclusion of everything else, that they dragged other people into their fight and got a few side charaters killed. People that didn’t even stand a chance. There were a few decisions that Dylan and Kera made that caused me to lose a little respect for them. At times, I even found them to be immature.

Thank goodness Shea Berkley managed to write a riveting ending. If it wasn’t for that, this book would have been a total wash-up. Once we moved beyond the beginning, and the battle tactics and fighting actually began, I settled in and enjoyed myself. Berkley threw a few major twists in the end that I was not expecting. Now, I’m intrigued despite myself. Hopefully now that the angst is over with and the world building is done, the next book can engage me fully and make me desperate to find out what happens next. Whereas right now I want to know, but it’s not a burning desire to find out.

My last, and very small complaint is that I still have no idea what to call them. Fae? Magicians? Witches? Some new paranormal creature I’ve never heard of? The author never gave labels to anyone, so I just assumed they were Fae. It’s tiny, I know, but annoying nonetheless.

My Summary: With the snoozy and very confusing first half, I was all set to give this a lower rating. The author seemed to find her groove in the last half though, and it ended with a few interesting twists and managed to capture my attention. I never did feel the chemistry between Dylan and Kera, but there’s always the next book!

My Rating: C-




  1. The synopsis sounded interesting, but I think you have some valid complaints. A really slow build up would begin to irritate me and I think that would color my perception of the rest of the book. I'll think I'll be skipping this one. Thanks for the review.

  2. Hi Jennifer! You're right, the blurb did make it sound interesting. I was really disappointed that it didn't work out better for me. It has good ratings on Goodreads, so it could be just me. lol Thanks for stopping by!

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